How My Training As A Nurse Made Me A Better Writer

Rick Martinez

And a simple framework that anyone can use, even if you’re not a nurse

Photo via Unsplash

I am a nurse turned freelance writer.

But to tell you the truth, I actually believe I’ve always had the writer in me, long before I ever became a nurse.

If you’re not a nurse, you may be wondering why this is relevant to you. So before I go on and before you click away, as you read this, please imagine the skills you learned in a different career field, training or schooling. 

I bet there’s relevance there too.

One of the main reasons I enjoy writing is that there are many similarities between being an RN (registered nurse) and a writer. Like in nursing school, you must learn how to be organized and disciplined to succeed as a writer.

As healthcare providers, we have to take care of our patients’ needs first before anything else — just like writers need to focus on their readers’ needs first before anything else. 

While your audience may not experience life-threatening situations if they do not read what you write, they will undoubtedly feel emotional pain if you don’t deliver on your promise of excellence for them.

That was some nurse-writer humor.

But I digress.

Look, let me just share with you how I’ve been able to take my training and knowledge as a nurse and directly apply it to writing, copywriting, creative writing, and basically any type of writing you can imagine.

My training taught me how to be observant and detail-oriented

I’ve always been observant, and my nursing training taught me to be even more aware. 

I developed a skill in nursing school, while much of our work was being done by close observation or even on “dummies”. We honed our skills of observation and assessment in controlled learning environments. 

Having worked as a nurse has only solidified those skills — nurses are often called upon to think quickly and juggle multiple tasks at once so we can respond appropriately if something goes wrong with one patient while treating another. 

This type of observation and detail orientation has an almost magical correlation to writing. The amount of detail required to write and then edit one’s work can be incredibly tedious.

As a nurse, we’ve been trained this way. 

Nursing school taught me how to research information quickly and effectively

When I graduated from nursing school, I had spent so many years researching medical and nursing literature that my capacity to find information quickly and efficiently was second-nature. When patients or families come in looking for answers about a disease or condition, it feels like they’re asking me for help with a homework assignment because of how easy it is to find the right answer. I put my nursing degree and years of experience to great use when it comes to researching information. I’m able to see what I need quickly and efficiently.

This is relatively easy to see how this can translate into the writer’s arsenal. 

Research is often required, especially as writing becomes more complex. And even more so if the writing at hand is being done for a client or someone who is relying on you, the professional, to deliver well-written and researched outputs. 

I’m good at communicating complex information in ways that are easy to understand

It’s one of my favorite things about my job as a nurse. I don’t mind being the one to break it down so people understand it-no matter how complicated that might be. Seriously, if you want me to explain a bunch of numbers, concepts, diagnosis, or “medical speak” in a way that makes sense, nurses are it. It’s what we do best.

We’re good at communicating complex information in ways that are easy to understand.

A simple example would be a 10-year-old who breaks an arm on a trampoline. The way a nurse explains this to the family is not the same way we explain it to the child or to the next nursing shift.

This type of communication is especially critical for the writer. The ability to convey the story, message, or pitch is absolutely vital and dependent on the audience. Right message, right audience, right time. 

It’s something we’ve trained for.

Patient management gave me the ability to multitask and prioritize tasks for maximum efficiency and outcomes

I’ve always been a go-getter, but actual nursing gave me the ability to multitask and prioritize tasks for maximum efficiency. 

As a practicing nurse, I often cared for several patients over many hours, which improved my confidence as a practitioner and helped me develop these skills to be able to take on more responsibilities at work. It also taught me how to prioritize my time effectively with all that’s thrown my way each day so that I can most efficiently carry out my duties as a nurse.

Writing is almost the same. 

Except for the patients, of course. 

Managing multiple projects with different deadlines, even if they are self-imposed, is engrained into our psyche as nurses. 

Instead of a stethoscope, it’s a pen, however. 

What this all means to you

As I said in the beginning. You may not be a nurse. But I bet you have been trained in some skill or trade and the overarching message here is that the skills inherent to the best writers are likely just a thought process away.

The chasm isn’t as far as one may think or believe.

But if I was to honestly share the best part about my job as a writer now? It’s that it allows me the flexibility to work from home while still making enough money for myself and my family. 

Your turn.

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I'm a freelance writer and a nurse, exploring the world one beer, donut, and experience at a time. Writing about the travel nurse industry and healthcare, with the occasional emphasis on donuts. #NomNom

San Antonio, TX

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