FAQContact usTerms of servicePrivacy Policy

How to ... prepare a poster presentation for nurses

Monday January 13, 2014
Printer Icon
line
Select Text Size: Zoom In Zoom Out
line
Comment
Share this Nurse.com Article
rss feed
Is there an evidence-based project or clinical initiative you are passionate about and would like to share with others? Have you considered the possibility of authoring a poster presentation to highlight a best practice or leadership program?
If so, why not make 2014 the year you accomplish this professional goal?

Nurse.com asked regional nurse researchers to offer suggestions on how to complete a poster presentation.

They unanimously agreed the poster presentation process can be rewarding and uplifting. Depending on the conference or facility requirements, nurses don’t only have to focus on evidence-based practices or research studies. Many include presentations that reflect best practices, changes to clinical practices, new treatments or leadership initiatives.

So what?
Lynda Olender, RN, PhD, ANP, research and clinical practice consultant at the James J. Peters Veterans Administration Medical Center, Bronx, emphasizes the importance of answering the “so what?” question during the literature review. In answering that question, nurses can identify the importance of their topic to the profession and validate it through a thorough literature review.

Involving other key facility personnel is another way to generate support for a project, said Olender, who has published extensive research on incivility.

“For example, if a nurse is focusing on psychiatric search procedures in the acute care setting, he or she should include security personnel, who are key stakeholders in gathering facts, particularly as it relates to outcomes, such as reductions in security interventions,” Olender said.

When selecting a topic, nurses must be clear about the message they want to convey, said Maribeth Wooldridge-King, RN, MS, AOCNS, nurse leader, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center Sleepy Hollow, Sleepy Hollow, N.Y. “It’s about telling a story in a succinct and positive way,” she said.

“Indeed it takes a village to maximize the likelihood of project success,” Olender said.

Tell the story
A poster presentation usually includes the abstract as well as specific information about the study or project’s objectives, methods, research findings and clinical implications. If it is a research study, it should cover the background and significance of the study, study aims, methods, results, discussion and implications. Wooldridge-King suggests following conference guidelines and keeping the project simple and direct by blending content with graphics and bullet points where appropriate, and putting key points in bold.

“Outcomes don’t need many words, and in fact, pie charts and histograms provide a great way to summarize them,” said Olender. She added authors can present anticipatory outcomes if final outcomes aren’t fully implemented.

Not so abstract
Pam Ginex, RN, EdD, OCN, nurse researcher at MSKCC in Manhattan, offers an abstract preparation workshop every year to nurses at the facility.

“The abstract should highlight the author’s work clearly and succinctly, summarizing the information according to conference guidelines,” Ginex said. She added it usually includes a summary of the project plan, study background, objectives, methods, results and clinical implications.

Ginex suggests not worrying about the right word count at first, but rather getting the appropriate content on paper and editing later for style and length.

“Some RNs choose a professional conference first, depending on their expertise, and then prepare for the poster presentation based on the requirements of that conference, while others may have a particular project, for example, on safety, and they find a particular conference that focuses on safety practices,” Ginex said.

All in a name
Another step in the process is figuring out an appropriate yet catchy title, said Sue Fowler, RN, PhD, CNRN, FAHA, director of evidence-based practice development and patient safety, Children’s Specialized Hospital, New Brunswick, N.J., and contributing faculty, Walden University. Fowler, who has served as a clinical nurse researcher and director of nursing research for the past 20 years at various regional facilities, said sometimes those reading the poster may go from the title directly to the summary.

“One possibility is to use something from the conference theme,” she said. “For example, if the conference emphasizes excellence in nursing practice, then the author can consider using that focus in the title, if it makes sense.”

Ginex suggests the title should reflect the content, and it even can include some results to let the reader know what’s to come in the presentation. “An example of this might be, ‘A tailored orientation program that increases retention,’” she said.

Get support, pool resources
Having a mentor is a must, according to Tim Clyne, RN, BA, nurse manager, Trinitas Regional Medical Center, Elizabeth, N.J. He credits Carol S. Blecher, RN, MS, AOCN, APNC, CBPN-C, CBCN, clinical educator, with helping him identify a topic of interest, establish clear project goals and complete poster presentations at the Oncology Nursing Society’s annual meeting and two annual research day events last year.

Administrative support and encouragement are crucial because staff members see added value to what they are doing, for their own facility and for RNs from other institutions, said Clyne, who developed a poster on the confusion assessment method and a patient education tool. Blecher and Clyne always provide handouts that supplement or support poster presentations and said attendees benefit from receiving additional information.

In addition, having other people review the content before finalizing the poster is critical.

“Try to get people who aren’t involved in the specialty to look at it and make sure that the content makes sense to them,” Fowler said. “They also can be great resources for checking punctuation, spelling and sentence structure. You can’t depend on the media department or an outside service to catch typos or grammatical errors.” Specific thank yous to those who have supported the project are necessary as well, Olender said.

Looks matter
No matter the level of resources, nurses should focus on preparing a good-looking poster that makes the right impression at first glance.

Along with guidance and suggestions from online resources and perhaps poster printing services within a nurse’s facility, Blecher and Clyne suggest using PosterPresentations.com, which includes Powerpoint templates that can be downloaded, completed and submitted. The site also provides feedback as part of its services.

Sources interviewed for this story agreed the three-column look, going from left to right, is most appealing and easiest to read. Other decisions include finding the right balance of graphics and words and identifying a pleasing background color that doesn’t take away from the content.

“Keep in mind that viewers usually look at posters up close, so you don’t want to overwhelm them with words or a very large or fancy font,” Wooldridge-King said. “If the institution has a logo or a treatment brand, be sure to include it.”

Down to last details
There are many preparatory details, and Ginex advises completing the background information for submission, such as names, institutions and credentials ahead of time rather than waiting until the due date. “It can save you the extra time in the end, and it puts less stress on everyone involved,” she said.

Wooldridge-King said nurses should keep referring back to the conference guidelines during the process to be aware of specifics such as deadline dates, word counts and board and font sizes. It’s also important, she said, to allow enough time for the “back and forth” process with those who are assisting with graphics or poster reviews.

Once the first poster presentation is complete, sources said most nurses want to do it again or even serve as mentors to others.

Janice Petrella Lynch, RN, MSN, is nurse editor/nurse executive.


To comment, email editorNY@nurse.com.
How to series

Read what nurse writers have to say about writing for publication.
Visit www.Nurse.com/Article/WriteForPublication.