How I Nurse Two Careers: Medical Writer and MotherGuest_Blogger | May 03, 2011
Have you ever been afraid that your specialized field would prevent you from finding work online? Rachel Ballard, both a writer and a registered nurse with clinical experience, shares her story of the medical field, motherhood, and bridging the gap with Elance.
I love to diagram sentences. Well, I used to. You can call me a nerd if you want to, but I can’t help it. Ingrained in me through the course of my education by inspiring teachers, was a love for literature and the English language that I have never been able to shake. Through high school and college I would sit quietly by and watch my classmates sweat over term papers. For me, writing was something easy and natural—something I did in my free time for fun and to relax and I never viewed it as something to be dreaded.
Despite my love of writing, my love of others motivated me to complete my nursing degree and then begin a career caring for patients of all ages. Offering comfort and healing in my own little way still gives me an unmatched sense of self-fulfillment even to this day. While I loved my profession, I found myself expecting my first child just a few short years after I was able to tack “RN” after my name. A move away from friends and family left my new family without much local support, and I couldn’t imagine leaving my children in the hands of strangers. For that reason, I decided that staying home would be best. I found a job working one or two days a month at a local hospital, but between my shifts, the weeks sometimes felt like months. My brain, which yearned for stimulation and adult conversation, was bored and I found myself always wondering what the rest of the professional world was doing while I watched The Wiggles at home with my children.
Motivated by the need for self-fulfillment, I began to search the internet for a work-at-home opportunity. I learned quickly that unlikely promises were just that—and I was probably scammed more than once. I tried home party sales only to walk away feeling frustrated and worn out with asking people to buy products they didn’t need or want. I poured over every online classified site, and searched through every category that I thought might hold the key to what I was looking for—something that I didn’t even have an answer to.
Then, one day I stumbled upon an ad for a sales copy writer for a local health product company. I thought that it might be interesting, so I threw out a random offer and waited. Surprisingly the company accepted and my writing career, though humble, began. I thrived on the opportunity to sit at my computer after dark when my small children were in bed so that I could write—to write anything was therapeutic to me. I was happy to have a chance to use my mind and bring in a small paycheck—even though I was caring for our children and taking on every challenge the day brought about, I felt like I was making a measurable contribution to our family by having a bit of extra income. After a few months, my client made the suggestion, “You should look into more freelance writing work on Elance.” I wondered to myself if I really was a freelance writer…never even realizing what I was doing to begin with.
At first, I was intimidated by Elance—and afraid that I didn’t have what it took to compete with the many well-qualified and established writers who were already working. Despite my fears, I began submitting one proposal at a time and waiting until the job ended to apply for another. I was careful to only apply for jobs I felt qualified to write for, and I made sure to tailor each proposal to fit the job. Don’t get me wrong—I was passed over on many jobs before I was hired for my first one. I was ecstatic, and proud to be chosen. Since that time, I have been able to gain clients and a solid presence on Elance. I have been honored to be invited to submit proposals on several jobs as well. Over the course of time, I have learned to relax a bit, but I always strive to give each client my very best. After all, they had faith enough to hire me, and I never want to let them down.
Over the course of time, my reliability and a strong work ethic brought me full circle into a series of jobs and clients who were looking for a writer with a strong work ethic and quality style. With each successful project on Elance, my after-hours writing fun became a way for me to boost our family income and provide myself with mental stimulation and a connection to the adult world that I craved.
I have since moved away from many of the old job search platforms that I started with as my Elance reputation continues to build. One client at a time, I’m now able to offer the clinical knowledge and expertise acquired from my nursing background in a one-stop-shop atmosphere. For example, I have been given the opportunity to women’s health articles to an outstanding OB/GYN for client education, and work with a pregnancy and infant care website to help new moms gain knowledge in those very difficult early days at home.
Even with this newfound momentum as a freelance writer, my nursing career never suffered, and though I still work a select number of hours in a local hospital, I have found another way to reach out to others. There were many days that I didn’t have the opportunity to help my patients physically—unable to offer a comforting hand or soothing touch, so I turned my medical knowledge into another way to help.
Using what years in the hospital have taught, I found a way to share my love of caring for others through information and education. By providing my clients with articles that surround topics I love, it’s easy to create content that makes both parties happy. My children are happy because their mom is here when they want to play or just need a loving touch, my clients are happy because they have found a writer who delivers what she promises, and I’m happy—because I have the best of everything all rolled into one.
About the Author
Rachel Ballard is a Maternal Child-Certified RN who enjoys raising cattle and gardening with her husband and two children on their farm outside Lexington, Kentucky. As an accomplished freelance writer, Rachel has worked in the legal, medical, health and wellness, and infant care areas and has been published around the web for a variety of clients. She is happy to be establishing her presence on Elance and looks forward to many happy business ventures in the future.