Monday, October 27, 2014

The Ups and Downs of Writing CE

I’m nearing the end of my rotation at rxBriefCase and it has been an eye-opening experience. Unsure of what to expect, I was surprised by the opportunities I received. As a science student, I never thought that I would write an eNewsletter, a patient module for medSchool For You (MSFY), and a blog - all within 5 weeks!

On my first day, my preceptors presented a task itinerary to help me stay on track. To be honest, as I flipped through the pages, I asked myself “why would this take 5 weeks?”.
It wasn't too long before it all made sense.  I clearly underestimated the amount of work it takes to successfully produce and present Continuing Education (CE) online.

As a result, it seems only fitting to describe my experiences writing these CE pieces. It was nothing short of a roller coaster of emotions. 

Emotion #1 - Excited: Yay! This will be fun!

As I read the descriptions of eNewsletter and MSFY in my task itinerary, I started to feel that "good kind" of nervousness. I looked forward to a change in work environment and style. I was excited to try something completely outside my comfort zone. 

Emotion # 2 - Afraid: What will I write about? How will I make this interesting?

During my first week, the search for an original and interesting topic became more and more difficult. My excitement started to fade and a fear of landing on a boring topic (or worse, no topic at all!) began sinking in. I wanted to write about a topic that could be covered within a limited word count yet keep the reader engaged. Most importantly, I wanted to talk about something that needed clarity, needed a bottom line.  

Emotion # 3 - Frustrated: Why can’t I find what I want! Where is all the reliable info?!

After discussion with my rotation mentor, I chose a topic. That was just the tip of the iceberg. I started searching for reliable sources of information. Since I was writing about a topic that was lacking universality and up-to-date clinical information, there was no single source that I could rely on to create my eNewsletter or MSFY program. This challenge was the most frustrating part of the process. 

Emotion # 4 - Anxious: Am I off-topic? Have I gone on a tangent?

Before I knew it, I was writing, and writing, and writing. As I found more and more articles, I had more and more ideas to incorporate in my eNewsletter and MSFY program. But as the number of pages grew, I realized that I may have steered away from the main topic. I was fortunate to have to an experienced writer to remind me of my original topic and guide my writing in the right direction. Working with a team definitely decreased the level of anxiety and stress.

Emotion # 5 - Eager: I’m almost done this draft! Eek!

At this point of the ride, I was happy with the content. I channeled my energy into focusing on how this content would be delivered. How would my peers want to read the material? When they scrolled down the article, what would they look for? 

Emotion # 6 - Overwhelmed: Delete this, add that, fix this, change that. It’s going to be a late night…

I received a revised version of my first draft and all I could think was "That is a lot of red ink." But, it was all constructive and very helpful feedback. That initial overwhelming feeling lessened and I became determined to make every draft better than last. 

Emotion # 7 - Joy: It’s ready for submission!!!

Finally, after multiple drafts, I clicked the "send" button and submitted my piece to the rxBriefCase team. 

Emotion # 8 - Relieved: It's out of my hands. It will go live.

This is self-explanatory.

Emotion # 9 - Proud: That’s MY piece online!  

It was a like a flashback to the pride I felt as a little kid when my artwork or well-written tests would be displayed on the kitchen fridge. I learned a lot from this experience and gained an appreciation for every person involved in producing CE. 

And, as cliche as "practice makes perfect" sounds, it is how I feel about writing CE pieces. Hopefully I receive an opportunity to write again, though it will hopefully be a smoother ride.