The inaugural Next Level Nursing conference was held in February 2020—the worst (or best?) timing. We could not have known what lay ahead for healthcare workers as we gathered nurses from various specialties and all levels of experience for inspiring talks and breakout sessions. We focused on burnout, negotiation and communication skills, and how to see life “off-shift” in new ways.

The last session of the conference was a creative writing workshop – perhaps not an obvious curriculum choice for a personal growth / professional development conference. But, as we learned from workshop director Rachel Borup, expressive writing can improve physiological, physical, and mental health, and can help us to acknowledge and mitigate traumatic memory. And, perhaps more immediately, expressive writing is a highly effective aid in recognizing and recovering from burnout and job fatigue.

Nurses at that first NLN conference had stories to tell, wisdom to share, grief to express. They dropped tragedy and deep reflection on us, and spread some hopeful humor in the writing workshop. As NLN founder Jennifer Floyd put it, “…that was one helluva shift report.”

Most of you are familiar with the term “shift report” or its equivalent, the sharing of critical information as one nursing shift ends and another begins. Now, all these long and heartbreaking months later, many of you might feel like you have been pulling one never-ending shift. Some of you are graduating from nursing school. Others are retired or thinking about retirement. Wherever you are in your nursing or nurse education career, in your "shift," NLN invites you to share your "shift report"; we hope you will participate in a writing contest we are sponsoring to acknowledge and celebrate the work and lives of nurses.  

The Shift Report Writing Contest accepts submissions in fiction, nonfiction, and poetry by nursing students and retired or working CRNAs, CNAs, DNPs/NPs, LPNs/LVNs, nurse educators, and RNs. Submissions need not be COVID-centric, but must be related to or drawn from your nursing experience or aspirations.

We look forward to reading your work!



The Shift Report Writing Contest is open to anyone who is a current nursing student, or a working or retired certified nursing assistant, DNP/NP, LPN, LVN, nurse educator, or RN.

Employees, partners, and sponsors of NLN, and their families, are ineligible to participate.


The Shift Report Writing Contest opens at 12:01AM, 4/15/2021, and closes at 11:59PM, 07/31/2021. All entrants will be notified and winners announced on the NLN website on 9/1/2021.


All submissions will be reviewed for originality, creativity, voice and, ultimately, depth of engagement with the themes of healthcare, medicine, healing, and illness as witnessed or experienced by nursing professionals. Judges will have sole discretion in selecting winning submissions. Submissions will be read by several reviewers; finalists will be read by a panel of judges to be announced at the conclusion of the contest.


The Shift Report Writing Contest will award $1000 and publication on the NLN website to writers of the first place story, essay, and poem/set of poems, and $500 to the runner-up in each genre (as determined by contest judges who will be announced when the contest closes). All submissions will be considered for publication on the NLN website.

Shift Report Prize in Fiction:  For this inaugural contest, we are not accepting romance, sci-fi, or horror. Short stories must be between 3,000 - 6,000 words. Winner is awarded $1,000 and publication on the NLN website. Runner-up is awarded $500 and consideration for publication on the NLN website.

Shift Report Prize in Nonfiction: How many times have you thought, as a shift ends or as you attempt to navigate a life between shifts, "You can't make this stuff up." Here is your chance to write that true story no one will believe, or develop that essay that's been brewing in your head for a year. Originality, reflection, and vision toward the “bigger picture” are key to compelling nonfiction. The nonfiction submission must be between 3,000 - 6,000 words. Winner is awarded $1,000 and publication on the NLN website. Runner-up is awarded $500 and consideration for publication on the NLN website.

Shift Report Prize in Poetry: We welcome poetry in any form, but submissions are limited to no more than 10 pages, total. If submitting more than one poem, please start each poem on a new page.  Winner is awarded $1,000 and publication on the NLN website. Runner-up is awarded $500 and consideration for publication on the NLN website.

Shift Report Editor’s Prize: A prize of $1,000 and consideration for publication on the NLN website will be awarded to a piece selected by NLN editors, separate and apart from the selections made by the judges for the other Shift Report Prizes. All submissions, in each genre, are eligible for the Editor’s Prize; no special or additional entry is required.


  • Submission fee of $20 for each entry. (This helps us award prizes and sponsor scholarships to next NLN conference.)
  • Submissions will be read blind. Please remove your name and any other identifying information from your document before submitting.
  • Previously published work is ineligible for the contest. NLN considers a piece “published” if it has been circulated in print, or posted on the Internet (in electronic magazines, journals, and newsletters, or on professional or personal websites and social media accounts).
  • Formatting requirements: submissions must be double-spaced and in 12-pt.font. Only file types .doc, .docx, and .pdf will be accepted.
  • We accept simultaneous submissions, but please inform us immediately if your work is accepted elsewhere. You may also submit multiple pieces to this contest, but each submission requires a separate entry form and submission fee (only through our Submittable page).
  • We accept multiple submissions, but a separate fee must be paid for each entry.
  • After publication on the NLN website, publishing rights revert to the author and the work may be reprinted as long as appropriate credit is given to NLN.  NLN retains the rights to include the work of winners and runners-up in a future anthology, but will notify writers of intent to anthologize within a calendar year from date of publication on NLN website.