The Insanity that is APA in Nursing School

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    As with most things in life, there are rules to be followed or there would be chaos! In Nursing, APA format is one such rule and we welcome it; what we detest is the inflexibility of it as wielded by most instructors. And against this, I am advocating content before format!

    I am sure that I am not alone in having had pure evil thoughts about "A.P.A" format. What is this APA format, you ask! This so well-loved format that could be the determining factor between a passing or failing grade. If you have ever heard the saying, "crying more than the bereaved", then you have successfully described the APA in nursing.

    Nursing schools took APA from the original initiator and simply ran with it.APA is to nursing school, what water is to fish; one crazy love!

    It was hammered into our skulls, we were terrorized with it. It simply HAD to be the APA format. You were often judged more by your APA format than the contents of the paper. Wrenching!

    (Show of virtual hands) Can one nurse, just one, say that she has EVER used APA format in the care of his/her patients? I did not think so.

    It was sad but funny really, how instructors went on about APA format. They did not go on and on about the possible toxic environment nursing could be. They did not tell you life experiences and how it could be applicable to yours in the real world. They mostly told you about APA format and how you could write an article or publish a journal in the far off future.

    Teacher, please! I just wanted to pass the course first!

    My thoughts? If I ever got to the point of writing or wanting to write an article, then I should be able to research the correct format with the plethora of resources available to me or heck, I should hope the book publisher has a credible editor to do that!

    It has been years later, but I still burn at the wasted efforts of APA and the disservice being done to nursing students. You are only to follow rules, never questioning, especially when your questions are contrary to the general consensus. Be a "sheeple" (SHEEp+ peoPLE)by all means, always following, never questioning.

    Then how do people learn? Where is the buy in? If people know nursing for what it is and is not, then they are better able to make informed decisions and can avoid potential career disasters early enough. But I digress!

    The constant hammering on APA format is not helpful to anyone. By all means, introduce and teach the "subject" and then be done with it. Do not go hammering on it as is currently done. Teach the important things like work conditions, burn out environment, coworker conflicts and possible solutions along with course work. Make nursing education more meaningful to the student, enough with the constant harping on APA format. Enough, we say!

    Please critique this article. Be gentle but real
    Last edit by Joe V on Aug 28, '13
    besaangel, SummerCher, cryingsky, and 7 others like this.

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    41 Comments so far...

  3. Visit  Mom To 4 profile page
    2
    Amen!
    Szasz_is_Right and Esme12 like this.
  4. Visit  traumaRUs profile page
    0
    Amen also.
  5. Visit  blondy2061h profile page
    9
    So you think nurses shouldn't have to be able to write professionally?
    Jory, Technicolourhobo, llg, and 6 others like this.
  6. Visit  Biffbradford profile page
    1
    Personally, I must say that I really appreciate reading something written by someone who is schooled in writing as opposed to the CRAP that is floating around the internet. Whether I agree with you or not, at least your WRITING is a joy to read! (insert smiley face here. Where the heck are they?)
    newhospicern likes this.
  7. Visit  Julesmama28 profile page
    1
    I agree. Why can't we write "professional" papers in the style we've been taught for 18 years?? APA is a totally foreign concept to me. I spent more time trying to research where the page breaks went and how to insert the header than actually writing the papers! Ugh
    Mom To 4 likes this.
  8. Visit  elkpark profile page
    12
    There are a number of different styles/formats for professional writing, and nursing as a group, along with most other healthcare disciplines, has chosen to adopt the style/format originally developed by the American Psychological Association (APA). Why is that a big deal to so many people? If it wasn't APA format, it would be something similar. Every academic and professional discipline has an identified, "official" format that is used for all writing/publications. Learning the format is just one step in becoming a member of that group.
    aTOMicTom, Technicolourhobo, llg, and 9 others like this.
  9. Visit  lorirn2b profile page
    2
    Someone on AN posted APA software that is only 20 bucks. "Insert your titles, reference materials here", it plugs it in to the proper format. I shall buy it for nursing school. I love writing papers so I think this will be the part of nursing school I enjoy, as opposed to Math, which is like this for me.
    SoldierNurse22 and LisalaRN99 like this.
  10. Visit  i♥words profile page
    2
    I guess I don't think it's that big of a deal. There are plenty of resources these days, like Citation Machine and OWL at Purdue's website. Practice makes better, right?
    newhospicern and ORnurseCT like this.
  11. Visit  LisalaRN99 profile page
    0
    I purchased and downloaded an APA software recommended to me by a colleague. I have never had an issue one time with my APA format with any of my papers in my BSN. Anyone who wants to know about it can private message me and I will share my knowledge, lest anyone report us to the academic writing police!!
  12. Visit  Annaiya profile page
    7
    APA is by no means difficult and I always saw it as a representation of the ability of the person writing the paper. Can you read and follow detailed instructions? That's a pretty big component of nursing so I do think it translates into your everyday practice. And I may it have used it directly with my patients, but I did use it when updating hospital policy and that does directly impact patient care. The quality of the policy is questionable when the author can't even cite in APA correctly. I was amazed in grad school how many of my classmates still could not get APA right. Needless to say, I was always the person that did the final proofread on any group projects. I'm not saying APA isn't a PITA, but I understood why my instructors felt it was so important to write in perfect APA.
    Technicolourhobo, llg, elkpark, and 4 others like this.
  13. Visit  sjalv profile page
    5
    Quote from lorirn2b
    Someone on AN posted APA software that is only 20 bucks. "Insert your titles, reference materials here", it plugs it in to the proper format. I shall buy it for nursing school. I love writing papers so I think this will be the part of nursing school I enjoy, as opposed to Math, which is like this for me.
    Don't waste your money.
    Son of Citation Machine
  14. Visit  blondy2061h profile page
    0
    I used Zotero for a lot of my undergrad papers. For grad school, including my thesis, I used my work's End Note license for free. Many databases provide the APA citation right on the article's cover page.


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