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Get Help Writing a Letter

Here are some suggested guidelines for writing an effective letter:

State where and when you saw the bad or good portrayal of nurses (title, article, edition/episode, date). 

State who seems to be responsible for the portrayal (author/writer/producer), if you know. 

Say something positive about the article/show/film if you can. 

State what the (good or bad) portrayal was (a quote or a synopsis). 

Explain why the portrayal is right or wrong, helpful or unhelpful (cite a reference, if appropriate).  

State the effect of such a portrayal (e.g., makes it more difficult to recruit into nursing, worsens the nursing shortage, etc...). 

State how those responsible might make amends for an error or misportrayal (e.g., you might arrange for the author/writer/producer to follow a nurse for a day, they could hire a nurse advisor and/or editor, consult nurse experts when preparing their stories, change their writing practices, have a conference call with you and other nurses to discuss ongoing problems, refrain from misportraying nurses in the future, place a nurse on their Board of Directors or others).

If appropriate, tell them when you will be calling to discuss the issues and how they might improve their treatment of nurses in the future. (e.g., "I will call your office next week to request a conference call.") It's often best not to wait for them to call you if you really want something done.

Thank them for their time and attention.

Sign your name, credentials, title, address, phone, email.

Also see Nancy Sharp's helpful article "The "Write" Stuff " in the January 27, 2003 issue of Nursing Spectrum for further guidance on writing letters, especially to legislators.

Please let us know the issue about which you are writing. We may be able to help draft a letter or consider posting a letter for all to send. Please also send us a link to the good or bad portrayal of nurses if a link exists.


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