Day in the Life of a Freelance Nurse Writer

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I enjoyed clinical nursing. I truly did. What finally drove me away was the noise. Go ahead and laugh.

by Elizabeth Hanes Elizabeth Hanes, BSN, RN (Trusted Brand)

Specializes in Freelance Writer, 'the nurse who knows content'. Has 13 years experience.

Day in the Life of a Freelance Nurse Writer

In the PACU, my day started early with a 7:00am report time. By the time my shift ended at 7:00pm, I'd spent most of the day clamoring to be heard above the high ambient noise levels of the cavernous unit. Air exchangers, telemetry units, 50 or 60 people talking all at once -- the sheer cacophony became too much for me to take. My ears would ring for hours after going home. I'd wake up hoarse the next morning from literally shouting discharge instructions at my patients the previous day. And then I'd go right back and do it all over again the next day.

Contrast that scenario with my life now, as a freelance writer.

I wake up around 7:30am and often drink my first cup of coffee on the patio, where I can enjoy the scenery of my backyard. I'm an avid birdwatcher, so it always brings me joy to start my day by sighting a crimson cardinal on the fence or watching the neighborhood hawk wheel through the sky.

After my first coffee, I amble upstairs to my home office to check email and browse a handful of sites. Then I get to work on my assignments for the day. On any given day, I might be crafting a short informational article on a specific disease or I may be writing newsletter copy for family caregivers. My work always offers variety.

I break for a leisurely lunch with my elderly mother (who lives with me), and then I head back to my office and turn my attention to the "me" work. That's stuff I do to feed my creative soul -- things like writing this blog post or outlining my book.

By mid-afternoon, my brain's tired so I head to the gym for an hour of cardio and weights. One of the great things about freelancing is the ability to set and control (to a degree!) my own schedule. I admire nurses who manage to squeeze in a workout on their hectic work days. I sure never could do that! But as a freelance writer I now work out at least three days a week, and often five.

After the gym, I head home and take a nap. Don't tell anyone! I find a 30-minute recharge after my post-workout shower gives me extra energy into the early evening, which is a work period for me.

Dinnertime comes, I cook for Mom and my husband, and then I head back to my office for a couple more hours. Evening isn't a particularly creative time for me, so I usually devote those hours to administrative tasks -- making sure my self-employment taxes are filed, cleaning up my contact list, tinkering with my business plan.

Finally, I retire to the TV room and snuggle with my hubs on the sofa. We love watching home improvement shows, so that's frequently on the menu. When I worked as a nurse, I generally returned home after a shift and collapsed into bed. I didn't even have enough energy to watch TV!

My life is so serene now, compared to the days I worked in the noise and chaos of PACU. Other perks of freelancing? I never get vomited on, and no one ever codes in my office. LOL

Yet I'm still helping patients. Just the other day, a man took the time to find my email address and write me a nice note: "Thank you for your easy-to-understand explanation of insulin pens on XX website! I spent 40 minutes searching for an answer to my question, and yours was the only one that made sense. I really appreciate it!" THAT makes my day.

Yes, I loved clinical nursing. But I've never regretted leaving the bedside for the desk. It's great to continue helping people from the comfort of my (quiet) office!

Freelance Nurse Writer with 5 years of experience in PACU, perioperative nursing,

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31 Comment(s)

Awesome article. I am retiring July 24/14, so actually in ten days time, after 37 yrs. of nursing. I love to write and have never thought of combining the two things that "I" think I might be good at. Just don't know where to start or who to contact about getting started. THANKS AGAIN.

Elizabeth Hanes, BSN, RN

Specializes in Freelance Writer, 'the nurse who knows content'. Has 13 years experience.

Thanks for the kind words!

passionflower, BSN, MSN, RN

Specializes in OB, Women’s health, Educator, Leadership. Has 29 years experience.

Good for you semisweetchick, I hope to be like you when i "grow up".

Elizabeth Hanes, BSN, RN

Specializes in Freelance Writer, 'the nurse who knows content'. Has 13 years experience.

LOL, passionflower. You can do it!! :yes:

chickpea7

Has 1 years experience.

Thank you for sharing. Is it difficult to find enough work as a nurse writer? How does the pay usually work? Is there typically a per word rate, or does it vary a lot by the job?

Elizabeth Hanes, BSN, RN

Specializes in Freelance Writer, 'the nurse who knows content'. Has 13 years experience.

All good questions, ambrr.

Finding work is probably the most labor-intensive part of the job. I spend probably half my time marketing (or at least I used to, until I built up a good stable of clients). For the type of writing I do (marketing, as opposed to journalism), the pay is usually by the project, not the word. Commonly, I provide a quote to prospective clients and then negotiate the final rate. It's not as much like used car sales as it sounds, though. LOL

I never recommend people quit their jobs and leap into freelancing. I got started by freelancing on my days off, and then went full-time when I reached a point where I was replacing my nurse income with writing income. :-)

Kingilus

Specializes in Mental Health.

Hi Elizabeth, that sounds like an awesome career to work as a freelance writer! Would you be able to go through the process of how to start?

Elizabeth Hanes, BSN, RN

Specializes in Freelance Writer, 'the nurse who knows content'. Has 13 years experience.

Hi Kingilus!

It's pretty easy to get started as a nurse-writer. You don't have to quit your day job, and there's little to no investment required.

Really, it's just a matter of setting up a website to promote yourself as a nurse-writer and then researching potential clients. I realize that's over-simplifying things. I think reputable healthcare content marketing firms make a good starting point for learning how the freelance business works.

I would avoid all types of freelance "bidding" sites and content mills that pay in fractions of a cent per word. You deserve to earn good money because your nursing credential confers great value to the client.

You can feel free to message me, too. I'm always happy to help. :-)

Take care!

Beth

Kingilus

Specializes in Mental Health.

Thank you for the response, Elizabeth! What would be the best ways to find clients?

Hi Elizabeth, i liked your article. please guide me how i can start my own blog. i am also a ragistered nurse.

sandi

Elizabeth Hanes, BSN, RN

Specializes in Freelance Writer, 'the nurse who knows content'. Has 13 years experience.

Forgive my delay in responding, Kingilus. I've been absolutely buried under deadlines.

The best way to find clients depends a bit on whether you want to try the journalism side of freelancing or the marketing side. The best way for reporters to break in is to look for publications (print or online) that appear to use freelance writers. If a publication or website offers writers' guidelines, that's a pretty good indication they use freelancers. You can actually Google "writer guidelines" to find publications, in general, that use freelancers. Then you can narrow the search by adding the search terms "health," "healthcare," "medical," "nursing" and so on.

On the marketing side, one of the best ways to find clients (in my estimation) is by searching on LinkedIn. Look for titles like "chief content officer" in healthcare organizations. Or look for healthcare content marketing agencies. Those places often need writers. Then contact them directly to offer your services.

Hope this helps!

Beth