By the time I found freelance healthcare writing I was desperate. Frantically searching for months, trying to find less physical roles away from the bedside and considering leaving nursing altogether. Chronic illness had thrown a major wrench into my career goals. After years of pridefully perfecting my nursing skills I suddenly felt hopeless, wondering how I could possibly continue to utilize these skills in a way that my mind would be fulfilled and my body wouldn’t reject. The very thought of leaving nursing gave me a queasy feeling.
I had wanted this for so long…worked so hard. It was part of my identity.
It had been difficult to work the floor as long as I can remember, but I pushed through. I had already endured so much getting to where I was in my career. How could I let this go so easily? My thoughts kept racing backward; nursing school, starting work, night shift, back to school, chasing new opportunities, climbing the clinical ladder – all while trying to find time for constant prescription refills, injections, infusions, specialist appointments and hospital visits.
Maybe I overestimated my physical abilities. Maybe I underestimated the physical nature of nursing, but after a decade of building my career as a young oncology nurse none of it seemed to matter now. This is where I was – in this moment, feeling stuck. Having been on both sides of the bedrails I loved bedside care. However, with time passing and my symptoms progressing rather than improving, it was only getting harder to work.
My body and soul were exhausted.
An increase in chronic pain, fatigue and a barrage of other symptoms made it increasingly difficult to focus. I wasn’t connecting with my patients. I was hardly able to show up for my shifts. Taking care of others is not easy when you are feeling awful yourself. I made accommodations to my situation: gotten on day shift for years, reduced my hours – eventually going per diem, reducing my hours further, moving to more of a desk job, even going out on disability twice in my twenties. Already having made several adjustments over the years, I was forcefully trying to stick with it, stubbornly holding tight to my ego.
It was time to let go and search for a new path. After many hours of internet research I had finally found it. Freelance healthcare writing. It was like a light at the end of a long dark tunnel. I had always possessed a love for writing from a young age. Now I could merge my creative outlet with my wealth of clinical knowledge. But…could I do it? I wanted to try but found myself swirling in self doubt. Did I even have potential as a writer? How do I get started without a lick of prior experience? Networking.
I was fortunate enough to have my first piece picked up by a large website specifically for nurses. It gave me a place to gain my confidence and try out material on those I trusted most – my nursing peers. Their opinions very much matter to me and I seek their approval. However, it was not a position that was going to pay my bills. It was time to think bigger. Reaching out to other freelance writers proved extremely fruitful. They were so willing to help, offering whatever pieces of knowledge they possessed. Through making a few connections I came across the Healthcare Writers Network in it’s infancy. It was fascinating to see many names of writers I had come across before – all coming together in one online community.
This network only gets better each week. There are tons of #freelancefriday videos to learn from other successful writers, leads for work, answers to many burning questions, contests and support. So much support! Yes, finding freelance writing kept me in nursing but this network of writers (and the successful women who lovingly run it) gave me the tools I need to succeed. I’ve met incredible like minded people that genuinely want to help and watch my success grow. That seems to be increasingly rare these days. With that, there’s a wonderful energy that surrounds such a group. Being a part of it only makes you want to be better and strive for more with the added comforts of a support net and valid soundboard.
Through my freelancing journey I have found many things. A new skill, validation in the knowledge I possess after years of nursing, and a community I fit right in with. I am grateful to have found such a place and find I feel more fulfilled with every new article I write and each new connection I make. Best of all, balancing my illness with my work seems to be falling right into place and I am again hopeful for my future in nursing.
Are you a healthcare writer that would like to take your career to the next level? Join The Healthcare Marketing Network!