Health Essay Writing Guide

When you are assigned your first essay you may panic and not know what your instructor is asking of you other than to write 2500 words on a specific topic.

Our goal is to provide you with a tool that will help you as you write your essay including helping you understand what an essay is and is not as well as provide you with an approach for the successful essay. Our approach includes planning, simple steps to research, converting research into your essay narrative and finally talking about why proofreading and editing are important

What is an essay and how does it differ from other types of assignments?

An essay is a well researched paper that is prepared on a single health topic. Unlike other forms of written assignments such as the dissertation or thesis, the essay may incorporate the writer’s viewpoint. For example, within nursing or radiography, it is not uncommon for a professor to solicit a piece that includes personal reflection. The essay is not argumentative unless the instructor requests an argumentative paper. Additionally, rarely does the essay go beyond accessing and citing published research.

Planning your health essay

When writing the health essay your topic will usually be provided by your instructor. Your planning phase should properly take into account how long it will take to research, outline and write your paper. It is important you include a little extra time so that you’re not still writing the night or even the same morning that your paper is due. Make yourself a small chart that specifies the task, such as research, the number of days it will take to pull research, read it and understand it enough to include in your writing and the specific dates you will do that task. Add additional tasks, days and takes to include outlining, writing and proofreading as well in your schedule


When writing the health essay compared to other essays such as for anthropology or geography, you have to consider how rapidly medical technology is changing. Research related to health is quickly outdated and to be successful, you need to incorporate current research not material that is outdated. Research is considered current if it is published within the last three to five years. While this is a help, your professor may specify fewer years or allow research that is older if applicable. Reputable health related journals should be used rather than online only journals or other health web sites where there are no helplines for publication and information could be questionable.


Outlining is a great way to sketch out your essay. Much like an artist sketching his or her drawing, the outline roughs out the essay and then all you do is fill in the gaps and refine your sketch. It’s also less threatening to work from smaller sections and write your essay in this manner than initially stare at the blank page and wonder how it’s all going to fit together. Outlining provides a mechanism to stay focused, organize yourself and write the successful essay.

Writing your health essay

The writing process is one where you insert text you’ve gathered from your research but put into your own words for each section and point in your outline. Your introduction may have a section labeled “Statistics.” Research from the World Health Organization (WHO) for example, might provide you with statistics on the number of patients with breast cancer who were treated with radiation. Your essay would then state, “The World Health Organization (WHO, 200X), reports that radiation treatment for breast cancer is increasing, with over 250,000 patients treated annually in 2007 compared to only 100,000 treated in 2000.” The rest of your research can be incorporated into your health essay in the same manner.

Proofreading and editing

Your writing may be wonderful, but especially for the health essay it is critical that you proof read and edit your work! You need to make sure your essay has no syntax errors, that your grammar is appropriate, that your work is academic quality, that spelling is correct – especially or medical and health terms, and that your essay is formatted according to that specified by your instructor, such as Harvard, AMA, APA or other.

Submitting your work

In order to make sure you’re reading your essay with fresh eyes, and not just re-reading what you’ve just written where you skim over your work, we suggest allowing 24 hours to pass between when you finish your original proofreading and editing process until you perform a final edit.

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