10 Tips for Publishing an Infection Control Newsletter
By Melba Rhodes, BSN
1. Buy the current year's issue of Health Observances & Recognition Days from the American Society for Health Care Marketing and Public Relations. Call (312) 422 3737. This calendar is filled with recognition days and addresses, and phone numbers to contact the authorities or organization on the subject. For example: Did you know September is National Pediculosis (lice) Month?
2. Subscribe to IcEhNewsletter Listserv. Send an e-mail to IcEhNewsletteremail@example.com/. This listserv is dedicated to sharing ideas for in-house newsletters. An e-zine called the Bugzine is published every other month and contains tips, articles and Web sites shared by members. Use this Web site to hone your publishing skills. There is no charge to participate in this group.
3. Organize file folders on your computer by quarters (Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter). Whenever you run across a good Web site or useful information, etc., take the time to type it up and save it to the appropriate (seasonal) quarter file. Then it will be a simple cut and paste to finish off your newsletter.
4. Feature several routine columns, which will always give you a starting point. For example, one column could be "Focus on the Policy." Include policy changes or issues that have arisen about a policy recently. It's also a good review for Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO) surveys. Another column idea is "Safety Corner." This can range from ergonomics on the job in the fall issue to holiday safety at home in the winter issue to food safety in the summer issue.
5. Have a good objective statement. Use a post-test to score the reader's knowledge after reading the newsletter. A good general objective statement is, "The objective of this newsletter is to provide accurate information on seasonable issues or diseases related to the control of infection, employee health and wellness and empower the employee to reduce modifiable risk factors related to seasonal illness or injury and to aid the employee in making necessary lifestyle changes." Then simply make a list of the issues covered in the newsletter, which allows you to substitute a newsletter for traditional classroom education.
6. Offer a door prize drawn from the returned post-tests, which serves to boost post-test return. The prize can be something donated by a vendor or something you purchase. You will find the return on your money to be well worth the expense.
7. Repeat certain seasonal items. Some subjects (such as the flu in the fall and hydration tips in the summer) are so important they are worth repeating year after year. For the flu, you can publish the current year's vaccine information statement, number of flu shots given last year, number of reported reactions last year, etc. If your newsletter is published at the same time as your TB skin test, publish post TB skin test instructions in the newsletter.
8. Subscribe to listservs like the Association of Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC) and the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) to stay on top of hot topics. In addition, the MMWR is copyright-free so you can cut and paste articles with little or no editing. To subscribe to the APIC list, send an e-mail message to: firstname.lastname@example.org with the command: SUBSCRIBE APIC. To obtain a free electronic subscription to the MMWR, visit CDC's MMWR Web site at: http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/. Select "free subscription" from the menu at the left of the screen. If you would like to subscribe to IAC EXPRESS, you can do so in one of the following three ways:
- If your browser displays the line below as an active hypertext link, simply click on the line and then "send" the message. Do not enter any message content. You will be automatically subscribed. mailto:email@example.com?Subject=SUBSCRIBE
- Visit the Web site at: http://www.immunize.org/express Click on the link that reads "Click here to subscribe automatically by email" and then send the message.
- Send an email message to firstname.lastname@example.org Enter the word SUBSCRIBE in the "Subject" field. Do not enter any message content. You will be automatically added to the list.
9. Spell check carefully, especially with specialty words often not in the routine spell check. Always have two or three people proof your newsletter before publishing it. And for that pesky mistake that always seems to make it through editing, offer a small door prize such as a candy bar to the first person who finds it. After that, you can say, "Sorry, we've already given away the typo door prize!"
10. Put your newsletter into columns and use a variety of fonts. Add graphics appropriate to the subject to catch the eye. However, avoid using too many graphics, as not every article needs one. Use a "drop cap" for the first word in the paragraph. Use text boxes and charts to display information (such as the rise in the number of flu shots given to employees or other data you need to share with the entire facility). All of these tips will make your newsletter look more professionally.
Melba Rhodes, RN, BSN, CIC, is an independent consultant and founding member of the Central Louisiana Infection Control Coordinators, an organization dedicated to networking between infection control, employee health and central supply coordinators in central Louisiana.