Health Term Paper Writing Guide

Throughout your university career, your professors will assign a variety of writing projects ranging from essays to dissertations. In your health course, you may be assigned a term paper, which is another type of written project that often incorporates concepts learned throughout the school term to a specific topic. Often these assignments include sections on personal reflection as well as how you believe what you have learned can be applied in practice.

The goal of this guide is to help provide you the best approach to writing the health term paper to meet your instructor’s expectations and receive an outstanding grade.

Planning

When writing the health term paper, typically the topic will be assigned by your professor, although it is not atypical in health coursework to find term papers that carry assignments such as: Using the concepts discussed throughout the term from Book Title and the various lectures, apply a reflective approach to how you applied these in your student placement. What did you learn? What would you have done differently? What implications does this have for professional practice?” While this may simply seem like expository writing, you will need to properly research and reference all that you state with the exception of your personal reflection and perhaps a case study you wish to include on a patient or situation.

When your instructor hands out or posts the course syllabus the first day of class, take note of the term paper due upon course completion. Plan appropriately. You have a full semester or term to make your notes and reference material appropriately. Do not wait until the last week of class and feign surprise. Proper planning for the term paper is essential as it reflects all you’ve learned during the term.

For example, if on Day 1 of your class, you see a term paper is due you should start working on it right then. Create an outline such that each time as a particular module or concept is covered make some notes in your outline on how that should be included in your term paper. Even if your note only represents a placeholder, it will be a memory jogger when the full paper is required.

Research

Research selected for your health related term paper must be current. You should strive to include only research published from credible peer-reviewed health related journals you would typically find in a university or hospital library, such as the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) or The American Journal of Cardiology. Refrain from using online health related journal articles you may find from online sources unless these are specifically from online academic or professional article databases.

Writing

The narrative of your term paper is really just a process of filling in the blanks provided by the outline you started on Day 1 of your class. While the majority of your term paper may be you’re your personal perspective, it is important that any points you make be supported by current research you've selected. For example, if your topic relates to the growing number of hip replacements in the elderly, you may cite research from the World Health

Organization that quantifies the issue. You may start with a quote such as: “According to the World Health Organization (WHO, 200X), 1 billion hip replacements were performed in 2007 on individuals aged 65 and older.” You might also state new statistical information on the growth of the elderly population in general and tie the two in together stating this is a growing problem for the elderly and continue with how what you learned throughout the term applies or has prepared you to deal with this topic.

Using the process of working from your outline with placeholders for concepts will ease the rest of the research as well as serve to provide excellent memory joggers to assure you incorporate all the concepts presented in your class throughout the term.

Proofreading and editing

You may think once you’ve finished your writing effort that your term paper is complete. It’s not. There’s one more step to go: proofreading. A significant portion of upwards of 25% may depend on who proofreads and edits your work: you or your instructor. Make sure all words and especially health related terms are spelled correctly. If you’ve included health related jargon, make sure you reword that section; jargon is to be strictly avoided! Finally, make sure the paper is properly formatted including all references and citations contained within your health term paper are documented as requested by the formatting assigned such as Harvard or AMA.

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