Becoming a Healthcare Writer - My pursuit of a role beyond the bedside
My personal experience with breaking into the field of healthcare writing - reasons why I chose to scale back on bedside care and focus on my writing skills related to nursing.
Becoming a Healthcare Writer
My pursuit of a role beyond the bedside
There's something you should know about me. I bore quite easily. The thrill and freshness of change is something I constantly crave. So, it was no surprise that after a fulfilling decade of hands on nursing, I was ready for yet another transition in my career. Due to some life changes I needed to find something less physical - and fast. I love being a nurse but after multiple roles, bedside care began to feel stale. I sensed there was something more waiting for me. The trick was to still use my degree (I had worked so hard for!) and wealth of knowledge obtained over the years. I still wanted to connect with patients and fellow RNs, just in a different way.
Where to start? Commence google search... "Non-clinical RN jobs". This simple search led me to an entire world of nursing I hadn't realize existed before. Health coach, midwife, concierge medicine, forensics, legal nurse consultant - all fascinating but not for me. Keep searching. Educator, navigator, management - none of these even sparked a whiff of interest. Scroll, scroll, scroll... nurse writer. Pause. Keep reading. Excitement. I was head over heels with the idea of becoming a writer and writing about what I had come to know best.
My honeymoon phase had begun. I was in hot pursuit of information. How would I even begin to break into this field of nursing? I had always enjoyed writing but other than some songwriting and poetry as a hobby, I hadn't written anything substantial since college. Had the dreaded APA style changed yet again? I was getting ahead of myself.
This article by Elizabeth Hanes (fellow bedside RN turned writer) is single handedly what gave me the confidence and starting points to break into writing. The article was short and sweet, to the point and filled with jump off points. I kept researching - what opportunities were there for nurse writers? There's plenty. Magazines, websites, and journals all looking for original content. Online companies and hospitals seeking nurses to help write policies and patient education. Ghostwriting for other healthcare writers and authors. Online and in print learning modules needed to be created - remember all those questions we mulled over in nursing school? Or those we still endure for our continuing education requirements? Nurse writers can help create them. You could even start your own blog - although this felt a bit overwhelming to me. I wanted to get my sea legs first. Get my name out there.
I began by writing... about anything. Sounds simple - but I had to be sure I could actually do it. I created a folder on my laptop entitled "writing samples" and got to work. I looked for writing prompts through searching for online writing contests. I bought a book from Writer's Digest that gave tons of information on all types of paid writing gigs. I tried it all - romance, short story, poetry. I created my first nursing article, "A Nurses Sacrifice". I submitted it to a large website...crickets. I kept writing, and submitting and writing some more. Reading other articles kept my busy as well - trying to find what writing style I liked reading and writing best. Deep in my many online searches I came across the need for writers and submissions on allnurses.com. I submitted again. Waited for weeks - heard nothing. Maybe I wasn't cut out for this. Maybe you needed connections to break into this arena? Oh no.... maybe... I was... a terrible writer. Spiraling in self doubt I decided the only thing left to do was keep writing and gathering information on how to get better.
Shortly after, I received an email from allnurses.com expressing interest in my article and a chance at pursuing a contracted writing position with them. I was so excited on my phone interview I actually teared up when I realized it could be a reality. To be honest - it's not a job that will pay the bills on it's own just yet but I was just so happy to be given a chance. It has been an incredibly supportive environment for a new writer. Like any career, we all need to start somewhere and pay our dues.
I currently write a few articles for allnurses.com every month. I'm always looking for other areas of healthcare writing to break into as well. I scan (my now regular) websites each week, looking for freelance work that interests me. Apply, write, enter a contest, write, read, submit a proposal, write some more. You can never have too much material in your bank. That's my honest advice to anyone interested in healthcare writing - do your research and just keep writing. Reach out. Make connections. The rest will sort itself out. I'm still very new to this field and still have so much to learn - but I am totally hooked.Last edit by tnbutterfly on Jun 14, '18
About Ashley Hay, BSN, RN
Over 10 years of nursing experience in several areas of Pediatric & Adult Oncology including clinical research, chemotherapy, transplant, hematology, proton therapy, GI surgery, wound care, post anesthesia recovery, etc.
Joined: Aug '16; Posts: 88; Likes: 346
Freelance Healthcare Writer & Pediatric Oncology RN
Specialty: 10 year(s) of experience in OncologyFeb 22, '17Great job, Ashley! I love your story. Perseverance is key! Best of luck on your future journey...Feb 22, '17Quote from The Nurse MotivatorThank you so much! It's great to be supported by fellow RNsGreat job, Ashley! I love your story. Perseverance is key! Best of luck on your future journey...Feb 22, '17Thank you , Ashley for sharing your story. We are glad to have you as one of the writers at allnurses.Feb 22, '17Ashley! What a great story, thanks for sharing! In nursing it is possible to match your talents and desires with your dreams.
Having allnurses as a venue helps to make that happen.Feb 24, '17Hi Ashley,
Thank you for sharing. You are off to a great start! I look forward to reading more of your articles. JoyFeb 24, '17Thanks for this article. I'm still in nursing school n for some reasons have been interested in writing article aswell. I still get the chance to connect with people from all walks of life. I wouldn't mind work part time n be a nurse writer at the same time. I'm not qualified yet but I dont think my back will last longer walking for 12hrsFeb 24, '17Quote from tnbutterflyThank you for having me! It has been such a great and supportive experience all around. So glad to say I finally broke into writing with many thanks due to allnurses!Thank you , Ashley for sharing your story. We are glad to have you as one of the writers at allnurses.Feb 24, '17Quote from jeastridgeThanks so much Joy!Hi Ashley,
Thank you for sharing. You are off to a great start! I look forward to reading more of your articles. JoyFeb 24, '17Quote from stefy01Yes, I know what that's like - there's such a physical demand when working long shifts. It can be really difficult if you're no longer up for that task. That was a large reason why I started looking elsewhere to use my degree and lessen my clinical time. Self care, right? Good luck to you and I hope to see your name on some future articles!Thanks for this article. I'm still in nursing school n for some reasons have been interested in writing article aswell. I still get the chance to connect with people from all walks of life. I wouldn't mind work part time n be a nurse writer at the same time. I'm not qualified yet but I dont think my back will last longer walking for 12hrsFeb 24, '17Quote from Nurse BethThanks Beth! Your support means more than you knowAshley! What a great story, thanks for sharing! In nursing it is possible to match your talents and desires with your dreams.
Having allnurses as a venue helps to make that happen.Feb 24, '17Feb 25, '17Hi your story is inspiring and I would love to share it with others via Millennial Nurse Magazine. An online e-zine dedicated to inspiring, educating, and motivating millennials at the bedside and beyond. Please let me know if you are interested.