Welcome to The RN2writer Show where we help nurses and other clinicians become freelance writers. I'm your host, Elizabeth Hanes. I'm a nurse and a former six figure for you answer. And today I coach people like you on techniques and strategies that can help you thrive in your writing career.
Before I dive in, I encourage you to expand the description box below the video on YouTube to see all the resources I mentioned in this episode.
Today, I want to share with you some of my story about how I left bedside nursing to pursue a career as a nurse writer. Because this is possibly the most obscure nursing career you've ever heard of, or never heard of more likely.
I want to start by saying My goal is not to dissuade people from becoming nurses or from staying in their nursing jobs. My only goal is to share part of my personal story about why I left bedside nursing and found a peaceful, prosperous existence using my creativity to help people instead of my lumbar spine.
Let's start with my nursing background. I graduated from an accelerated BSN program in 2008, when I was middle aged, prior to nursing, I'd been in business administration for about 20 years. I had always dreamed about becoming a nurse right out of high school, but I lacked the confidence to do it. I thought the math and the science was going to be beyond my grasp at that age. So I went into, you know, I could type fast. So I became a secretary, as we were called at the time.
But once I passed the NCLEX, I went to work in the pacu of a level one trauma center, which was really interesting. And I loved the actual work of waking people up from surgery, and then sending them along either to their homes or to a bed.
But the culture of that pacu was very toxic. So after a year, I got a new job working for a medical group's plastic surgery practice.
That seemed like a dream job. But unfortunately, as I discovered, it also was rife with toxicity. At that point, I felt I needed to get out of nursing. So I wanted to just tell you my top reasons for leaving nursing because I'm an analytical person. And I literally sat down and wrote this out on paper.
Number one, was the low pay for the grind involved. I mean, yes, nursing paid better than any administrative job I had had to that point. But it did not pay enough to compensate me for things like the hearing loss I have suffered. In the brief time I was a nurse.
Number two, the toxic environment. When I worked in the pacu, I literally witnessed one nurse threatening to kick another nurses asked in the break room and I was appalled by that could not believe it said to co workers if we were in a corporate environment, that nurse security we'd be walking them to their car, they'd be fired. And I can't believe this goes on in this environment. But of course it did.
Number three long hours.
Yes, I know a lot of us work three days a week, 12 hour shifts.
But that's not always helpful to integrate with our other priorities. In my case, I was trying to take care of my parents. And those long 12 hour shifts did not work for me. I couldn't check in on my parents every day.
Number four, I hated taking call.
I know it's a necessary evil in nursing. But having to suddenly disrupt my life, sudden change of my schedule that I had carefully curated for myself. It did not work for me.
Number five, the same thing with working holidays. Yes, I understand. We have to work holidays, to take care of patients and the process that I was in was pretty fair in terms of assigning holidays. I just didn't like it.
Number six, nursing was hugely physically draining.
Even back in those days, I rarely got time for a proper meal break. It was standing in the break room shoveling food in as fast as I could and getting back to my patient.
So that did not facilitate eating healthy. It was much easier to have grab and go type
food, and I wasn't drinking enough water. So I felt constantly dehydrated, we weren't allowed to have water at the bedside and who can get to the break room right?
Number seven, I found nursing very mentally draining. Even with four days off, I did not feel that I had enough downtime to recoup the mental energy required to regain that mental stamina to care for patients at the high level that I wanted to.
And lastly, number eight, the hospital that I worked for,
I had to park in a very remote employee parking lot. And then get bused out there in the pitch darkness and tried to find my car with no one else around. And I felt like that was very unsafe.
So that was my eight reasons for getting out of nursing. Once I'd made the decision to leave bedside nursing, I began to evaluate other career options that would allow me to keep nursing because I loved what I did as a nurse. But I needed to find a different way to do it.
I definitely did not want to do direct patient care anymore. So
my question was, how can I continue to use my nursing knowledge in a new or novel way? I wasn't interested in the typical work from home options for nurses because they struck me as How can I put this extremely boring.
I'm a creative person. I've always loved to write. In fact, I had tried to make my living as a writer long before I ever became a nurse. So now let's talk a little bit about my writing background.
I first became aware of freelance writing way back when I worked as the PR coordinator for a small nonprofit organization in Colorado in the early 90s. Because yes, I am that hold.
A large part of my job in that position involves talking to local print and TV reporters in order to get them to cover our organization's news. That's what a PR coordinator does.
And because that's a small town, Colorado Springs where it was at the time I made friends with a lot of those people. And gradually, I discovered that
many of them did not rely solely on their salary or employment for their income. A lot of them had this side hustle where they wrote articles for magazines, like magazines I bought from the newsstand, like Redbook and Reader's Digest. And I thought to myself, I had no idea that regular people could contribute articles to magazines like that. I don't know what I thought. But I think that I thought that magazines had staff writers who did all that. But that was not the case.
So I continued to learn how the freelance writing industry worked. And I started to send query letters to magazines myself, and failed dramatically to do to get any headway with that. Not a single one of my early queries got picked up by anybody.
By but throughout the ensuing decades, I kept trying, I tried over and over and over to land an article assignment. And one day I finally did. And teak week newspaper not only bought one of my article queries, but they started assigning me their weekly cover feature every week for almost a year. It was an absolutely magical time in my life, because I was like, I can't believe I'm sitting over here getting paid to write. And even though that was only about $350 a week at that time, it felt like I had achieved my lifelong dream of really becoming a professional writer.
But then the opportunity to become a nurse presented itself. So I gave up that $350 A week writing gig and got into my accelerated BSN program.
Now fast forward to 2010 ish. I was fed up with my nursing job at The Plastic Surgery Clinic. So I began pitching freelance articles again.
And what I discovered was, now that I had a nursing degree, my queries held a lot more cachet with editors. I started selling articles almost immediately, and then I branched out into content marketing writing, which is things like writing Health System websites and blog posts for patients.
Within one year of starting my freelance business, very part time on the side, I had more than replaced my nursing income and was able to quit my job
Now, I undoubtedly could have ramped up to six figures faster than I did.
But here's my dirty little secret. I didn't go into freelancing for the money. I went into it for the free time. Like I figured out very quickly that with just a couple few deadlines a week, I could easily make as much money as I was making as a nurse. And then I had all this extra time that I could do all the stuff I love to do. So my first goal was to equal my husband's salary, which was around $60,000 a year at the time.
So I ramped up to that amount. And for several years, I just made that much money and called it good because I liked being the lady who lunched and going antiquing, going to museums and doing all the cultural stuff instead of working.
But eventually, I started to get a little bored with my freelance career, and I thought what could re energize me for this, and I thought, you know, I'm gonna go for 100,000, I'm gonna see if I can be a six figure writer.
So I really put the pedal to the metal. But the first year, I tried that I didn't hit it at all. I mean, I was close, I was close to 100,000. But I didn't get there. But the second year, I did. And after that, I rarely earn less than six figures as a writer because once you have learned how to do that, and juggle all the stuff you need to juggle, it becomes very easy to just maintain that income level. Honestly, though, what I loved best about being a nurse writer had very little to do with the money, the 100,000. What I loved about my career was number one,
total control of my schedule, no taking call no working holidays, none of that I could schedule myself and know that my schedule for the week was set.
Number two, I made good money on a per hour basis. I often made over $400 an hour as a writer, no joke, no exaggeration.
Number three, I did not have to work long hours. I never worked more than 20 to 24 hours a week in my entire writing career, even when I was making $100,000.
Number four thing I loved about my writing career, it was not physically or mentally draining in terms of dealing with sick patients and co workers. I mean,
writing things does require a degree of mental focus and concentration, especially if you want to become efficient and do it rapidly to make a high per hour rate. But it's nothing like having to deal with coworkers who are threatening you.
Or dealing with patients who are suddenly decompensating
number five thing I liked about being a nurse writer was I had plenty of downtime to recoup mentally, as I was just saying, I would take myself out to lunch, have a martini, it was fantastic, great lifestyle as a writer.
Number six thing I loved about being a nurse writer was unlike my institutional bosses. As a writer, I worked with clients who genuinely respected me as a nurse.
Like they fully
believed that my credentials gave me a high level of expertise when it comes to health. And I never felt that much in my nursing career.
And the number seven thing that I loved was I didn't have to commute. Working from home is awesome, and especially when I don't have to then wander around through pitchblack parking lots out on the West Mesa practically of Albuquerque. So I ended up making 100% of my income from freelancing for about 10 years. And then RN2writer took off. So now I have shifted to coaching other nurses on how to enjoy being a freelancer too, because as I said before, this is such an obscure career, that it brings me so much joy to blow the doors off and tell other nurses This is an option for you because it is an option for you.
And by the way, transitioning from nursing to writing isn't hard. Here are the steps I recommend. Number one, start your writing business on the side. Keep your steady nursing income because that relieves a lot of pressure that nurses put on themselves to succeed quickly. If you're in a position where you have to suddenly replace your nursing income from writing that is too stressful. That's why nurses wash out because it takes a little time to learn this industry and ramp up
So start it on the side, build it up. And then when you're ready, you can step out in nursing if you want to, into full time writing.
Number two, invest in a training program to shorten the learning curve. I just described how it took me decades of trial and error to figure out freelancing because there were no courses for me to take really at the time. That is why we now offer courses to you nurses so that you don't have to go through decades of trial and error before you start making money as a writer.
The third thing I want to tell you to transition from nursing to writing is to work steadily on your business but not constantly.
Do not put in 2030 4050 hours a week on your business, because that's not fun. And if this isn't fun, why do it, work a little bit every week, be consistent, and that will get you to the place you want to go.
All right, so if you'd like to further explore how you can transition from nursing to writing, check out the resources we've provided in the description box or the show notes if you're listening to this. And please leave your questions or comments about today's episode in the comment section. Thank you for joining me for this episode of The RN2writer Show and letting me tell my story. Don't forget to click the subscribe button on YouTube so you never miss an episode. And as I said, we have links to everything I mentioned in this podcast in the show notes or the description box. If you prefer audio only for a podcast please follow The RN2writer Show on Spotify or Apple podcasts. I'm your host Elizabeth hanes and until next time, keep pitching
Transcribed by https://otter.ai