We have a special treat this week: an interview with accomplished CNE writer Brooke Lounsbury RN. We recently had the opportunity to interview Brooke to find out how nurses can break into continuing education writing. Please take a moment to visit her website, writenursern.com, to learn more about Brooke and what she does. We’ve edited this interview for length and clarity. Enjoy!
RN2w: Brooke, thank you so much for time the time to chat with us.
BL: It’s my pleasure!
RN2w: Many nurses ask me about writing continuing education modules, and this is something I’ve never done – so I can’t answer their questions. I appreciate your willingness to demystify this type of writing for other nurses. But before we get to that, can you share some of your nursing journey with us?
BL: I’ve been doing nursing of some kind ever since, oh, I can hardly remember, it’s been so long! I started out as a CNA, which I think is a wonderful way to go. And then I went on to become a medical assistant, working in different clinics and that sort of thing. I did that for about 10 years. Then I went on to nursing school, and I graduated later than most people. I was 43 when I graduated.
RN2w: We have that in common, then. I was 48 when I graduated.
BL: And you know what? It gave me a new appreciation for going through all that at that age. It’s something I had wanted to do for years and finally was able to do It – and I truly appreciated the experience. When I finally did become an RN, I worked a medical/surgical unit for a while, and then I ended up in home health and hospice. I just adored it.
RN2w: So what occurred that made you decide to become a writer? Was there any particular catalyst?
BL: I unfortunately had some personal tragedies come up that led me to take some time off from working. Later, when I got back into the workforce – nursing home, coordinating staff and training, and stuff – I really realized my passion was for teaching. I loved to teach! And any time I could get an opportunity, I was teaching. That led me to start writing some courses for a group called Pedagogy, Inc.
RN2w: Tell me in more detail how you became a course writer. How did you find out that was something you could get paid for? And how did you find this client?
BL: The way it happened was…in 2016 I was needing some of my own nurse units for my license renewal, and when I was online looking for courses, I noticed that a lot of these places were hiring – and that the authors of the courses were nurses. So, I contacted one and just fell into it! I cold-called, which is the method I recommend, because it seems to be the most productive way to get anything done. I really connected with the owner/editor of Pedagogy at the time, and she hired me to start writing courses. Right now, I’m writing one on tickborne diseases, and what’s really fun about this is I’m learning so much as I’m doing it. I feel nurses must have a passion for learning and research to be great continuing education writers.
RN2w: So, how does compensation work?
BL: The client publishes and promotes the courses, and they offer the courses for sale in different ways. For example, my courses get bundled into packages that nurses can purchase, and then I receive a percentage of those package sales. Or, if a customer buys your course alone, then you get an author’s commission.
RN2w: Is that the only way you earn money from writing these courses?
BL: Actually, I’ve been able to leverage course sales as a revenue stream for my digestive health consulting business. Prospective clients can buy my courses on these topics – because you don’t have to have a clinical license to purchase the courses – and after they’ve taken the courses to develop a better understanding of what’s going on inside their body, then I’ll work them on a consultant basis. So, I’m leveraging the courses as part of my consulting pipeline.
RN2w: That’s very smart! So, do you pitch these course ideas to the company, or do they assign them? Some of both?
BL: Sometimes I pitch them ideas, and other times they assign topics to me. For example, they asked me to write the tickborne illness course because Texas has a requirement for that one, specifically. In my experience, if you do a good job each time, then eventually you’ll develop a good reputation with the company, and they’ll think of you first when they have something to assign.
RN2w: How long does it take you to write a CNE course like that?
BL: It depends, of course. Writing a course for something you already have knowledge on might take 40 hours or so. I actually wrote a course on how to write courses – to help nurses learn how to do it! It’s called Introduction to Writing Continuing Education Courses for Nurses and goes into all the elements that go into writing CE, such as what is a quality reference, what are copyright laws, and so on.
RN2w: Fantastic! Thanks for sharing that resource. (Ed. note: the course only costs $10! Don’t pass up that bargain!) So, last questions: What would you tell a nurse who’s interested in doing course creation? What two or three steps can they take to get started?
BL: Well, first of all, you have to have the desire for it. And then I have three Cs for success:
- Clearly define goals: What is it that you want to write on? Is this something that you have an interest in and ability to write on?
- This is the hardest step for most people. You must commit to this with a certain amount of time each day or week or whatever your schedule can afford.
- This is probably more important than even the other two. Try to keep to a consistent writing schedule.
RN2w: These are great tips! Thank you for sharing. Anything else you’d like to share with our readers?
BL: One thing I wanted to mention is that I only have an Associates degree in nursing. Many nurses believe you have to have a Bachelors, minimum, to write CE, but that is not the case. With me, the company has a BSN writer review and approve my courses, and then they move right on to the accreditation board. So don’t let your lack of a Bachelor’s degree hold you back!
RN2w: This has been so informative, Brooke. Thank you again for taking the time to share these great insights with our audience.