By Amy Isler, MSN, RN
Senior Reporter
March 30, 2022

7 minutes to read


    Profile: Nurse Writer & Quilter Marijke Vroomen-Durning


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    Marijke Vroomen-Durning, a recent guest on the RN2Writer Podcast, is a veteran nurse writer from Quebec who started her writing and editing career back in 1993 before the internet was widely used. She is a trailblazer of our industry. 

    Aside from building a successful freelance writing career and acting as Senior Clinical Content Advisor for Sepsis Alliance, Marijke is a talented quilter. You could call it a side-gig to her side-gig, except it isn’t a business. She does it for the love of the craft, and to bring joy to people. 

    Marijke, who has always been into crafts and working with her hands, picked up quilting on a whim, back when her children were little, after purchasing a book on how to create a quilt in a weekend. It took her a lot longer than a weekend to finish, but she was hooked and it became her passion. 

    “Beyond the Brick Wall” quilt. Photo credit: (c) Marijke Vroomen Durning

    Quilting and Writing Have Similar Patterns 

    While many quilters follow patterns, Marijke gets inspired by visions and images that pop into her head. After the death of her mother, she was inspired by a silhouette of a girl turning into a woman and had to make it into a quilt titled “Healing” (pictured as the featured image on this post). She takes the idea from conception to paper and figures it out as she goes, including all the math involved, with transferring her idea from paper to a finished quilt. 

    Creating a quilt from scratch is similar to crafting a health article or telling a story through writing. They both start with an idea and an outline. The rest gets filled in by passion and hard work. “Writing and quilting are similar in that they are both tangible things that take shape,” she said. “You accomplish something in the end. Clinical nursing wasn’t like that for me. There was no sense of accomplishment. I couldn’t see the results of my work.”

    “Aquarium” quilt. Photo credit: (c) Marijke Vroomen Durning

    Freelance Leaves Room for Hobbies 

    Freelancing has allowed Marijke the time to pursue a hobby alongside her writing. She finds time to quilt during short breaks or when she is on a call or Zoom meeting where she doesn’t have to talk. “This backfired once,” she said. “When the people on my call could hear my sewing machine.” 

    Marijke attributes a lot of her quilting success to the flexibility of freelance and doesn’t think she would be able to pursue it as passionately otherwise. “If I wasn’t a freelancer, it would be an issue. By the time you get home, you don’t have time. How can you?,” she said. “I’m in the stage of life where I can focus on quilting. My children are now grown, my husband is independent, I’m not looking after anyone, and I now have a dedicated space.”

    Taking the jump into freelance writing doesn’t automatically mean you will have time to pursue other hobbies or interests, however. Marijke explains, especially to those new to the freelance world, that you have to prioritize your time, understand the flexibility in setting your own schedule, and understand your worth. “A lot of freelancers accept fees that are too low so they are working 60 hours a week. You need to know your value,” she said.

    We can all take note of the inspirational path Marijke has created for nurse writers around the world by realizing that nurses have options outside the hospital and clinic. As you embark on your writing journey, remember to foster all areas of creativity, and prioritize your time and value. You never know where a flexible schedule can take you!

    Marijke is an active member of the quilting community. See more of Marijke’s work and get expert quilting tips by visiting her Facebook page, My Creative Quilts. And if you need high-quality healthcare content, you can contact Marijke through her freelance website.

    Mariner’s compass quilt. Photo credit: (c) Marijke Vroomen Durning

    Amy Isler, MSN, RN

    Amy Isler, RN, MSN, CSN is a registered nurse and freelance writer who has over six years of experience working as a credentialed school nurse managing children with chronic health conditions, including diabetes, asthma, seizures, and food allergies.