Writing Letters to the Editor, Editorials, and Op-Ed Essays (Part I)

Nurses have indispensable observations and views about health care, but their voices are often under-represented in the mainstream media. One reason for this is that nurses are busy people with many competing commitments. Taking the time to craft a written response to a current issue in a timely fashion may seem a daunting task. This guide is intended to provide a simple and clear template that nurses can use to respond promptly to important issues. You can use this formula for any topic.

First, keep in mind that your response must be timely. Newspapers and other media may impose a time limit on responses, so make sure that you understand what that deadline might be.

Second, even if your letter, editorial, or op-ed essay is not published, it serves an important function: it educates the editorial page editor.

Third, if you are responding to the work of a reporter or journalist, send a copy of your response to that person as well; the journalist needs to be educated about nursing.

Finally, follow the instructions provided by the news outlet (e.g., length [usually limits on the number of words], how to submit).

Template for a Letter to the Editor

Template for an Op-Ed Essay

–Thomas Lawrence Long

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