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The purpose of this assignment is to write a set of instructions for a real task at your workplace to be performed by a new graduate nurse. You should choose a task for which there does not currently exist any documentation similar to yours and one that can adequately be explained in 4-5 pages. Alternatively, you may revise a set of poorly-written instructions currently in use at your workplace. 

  • Your instructions will include an introduction. 
  • Your instructions will include a list of equipment and materials.
  • Your instructions will include graphics.
  • Your instructions MUST BE 3-4 pages of written text, which does NOT include the graphics. 
  • Patient safety is paramount. Your instructions must assure a new graduate nurse can completely the task successfully and with no harm to the patient or to the user.
  • Your instructions will use numbered steps. Bullets may be used sparingly (no more than two) for additional information about a step. 
  • Your instructions will include a conclusion. 
  • Your instructions will follow the principles  of C.R.A.P. and writing for the appropriate audience (the new graduate nurse).
  • No handwashing instructions. 
  • Full consideration for patient and user safety by providing: background information, notes, warnings, cautions, dangers, and definitions. Notes, warnings, cautions, and dangers are each represented by/in a distinct design, and do not resemble each other in any way. Notes are used for more information only. Cautions are used when there is a potential for equipment damage or user liability (i.e.; proper documentation). Warnings are used when there is a potential for harm to the user or the patient. Dangers are used when there is a potential for death of the the user or the patient.

Points to remember:

  • You will be writing your instructions with the new graduate nurse in mind. Thus, you must assume the user knows absolutely nothing about the task.
  • Instructions should begin with an effective title that indicates what you are writing about and why you are writing (the purpose of your instructions).
  • The introduction (the first paragraph) should indicate the instructions you will be discussing, why these instructions are important, the number of steps involved, any materials or tools that will be needed, and any initial notes, cautions, warnings, and dangers.

    • With that said, notes, cautions, and warnings must appear in the instructions where the note is helpful, or the caution and/or warning could occur.
  • A note indicates important information to performing the task. A caution signals the potential for damage to equipment. A warning indicates the potential for serious injury. A danger indicates the potential for death.
  • Although these will be highlighted within the text of the instructions, key cautions, warnings, and dangers also should be repeated in the introduction.
  • The discussion section includes the information the reader needs to perform the task. There are a few different organizational patterns available here but usually the most common is step-by-step.
  • The conclusion can accomplish several different purposes depending on the initial purpose of the instructions. The conclusion can re-emphasize the product’s ease of use, its applications, or a summary of the company’s credentials for example.

With respect to style, the following are some points to consider for your instructions:

  1. Your user, the new graduate nurse, knows absolutely nothing about the task. Thus, it is important to include all actions and information, no matter how insignificant you think they/it are.  A patient’s life is at stake!
  2. If a step-by-step, does it follow the rule of “Chunking“–that is placing related items together under a single task heading? If you have 25 steps to your set of instructions, rather than present a long list of 25 items (which would be difficult for the reader to follow), use descriptive headings to break the long list into sections. For example, you may want to have sections such as “Preparation,” “Assembly,” “Testing.”
  3. Does the set of instructions place only one action in a step? Do not overload the reader. Each step should involve performing only one action.
  4. Does the set of instructions emphasize appropriate notes, cautions, warnings, and dangers in an effective manner–both visually and in the text?

        *Cautionary messages should be set apart from the rest of the text and effectively highlighted so they are noticed.

  5. Does each step begin with an active verb? Ex: Open the latch. Tighten the screw.
  6. Are each of the steps thoroughly explained? Does the reader have enough information to thoroughly understand what he or she is supposed to do?
  7. Do the steps use short words and phrases? Readers will not want to read lengthy text when they are in the middle of performing a task.
  8. Is the text personalized? Involve the reader in the task by using personal pronouns, such as “you.”

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