The important role that nurses play in our society cannot be overstated. From their bedside manner to their deep medical understanding, nurses have long been the backbone of our health care system. Now, many nurses are transitioning to a new and influential role: nurse entrepreneur.
With unique insight into what the health care industry needs, nurse entrepreneurs can create businesses that help patients and nurses. Many nurses have successfully made the shift from practicing nursing to running a business, and their nursing skills play a big role in their ability to perform well.
WHAT EXACTLY IS A NURSE ENTREPRENEUR?
Nurse entrepreneurs apply their nursing backgrounds and professional experiences to create businesses in the health care industry. Much like other entrepreneurs, they identify a need in the marketplace and conceptualize and build a business that fills that need. They may offer independent nursing services, such as patient care or consulting, or create and sell medical devices or home health care products. Others take on writing or coaching roles.
Just like any entrepreneur, nurse entrepreneurs usually take on a great deal of risk because starting a company always comes with the possibility of financial loss. They may have to work to find investors and experts to help them successfully launch their business.
The Nurse Buff blog has recommended identifying a problem in the health care field that you have the skills to fill, creating a business idea to help alleviate the problem, identifying your target market and studying your competition before you start a nursing business. In short, like any person launching a business, nurse entrepreneurs should carefully research and consider their moves to ensure they bring the right product or service to the right audience.
It will take long hours and undoubtedly some setbacks to get the business off the ground. Entrepreneurship is no easy task, but nurses seem to be up for the challenge. In fact, for many nurses, entrepreneurship helps them avoid nurse burnout and apply their skills in new and exciting ways. Whatever the specific nurse entrepreneur idea, it’s easy to see how nursing skills can help professionals easily transition to running a business.
TRANSLATING A NURSING BACKGROUND TO BUSINESS
Research based on data from Census Bureau and the Internal Revenue Service between 2007 and 2014 revealed that entrepreneurs were 125% more successful if they had previous jobs, especially in the field where they were starting a business. That means, nurses have a good chance of succeeding when launching nursing related businesses given their background in the health care field.
Many nursing skills translate nicely into entrepreneurship. Outside of all the scientific knowledge nurses must possess, they also have a plethora of skills they use in their professional nursing careers that help them transition perfectly into the entrepreneur role. Here are a few:
Nurses must be able to communicate with professionals and patients from a wide range of backgrounds daily. This helps them when they start a business because they’re able to connect easily with various stakeholders and customers.
Nurses learn to be incredibly organized because their patients’ well-being depends on it. These organizational skills make them incredible business leaders who can keep track of many moving pieces.
Nursing and entrepreneurship are similar in how they throw curveballs constantly. Nurses have to think on their feet and adapt quickly, traits that allow them to be successful business owners.
Nurses have been on the front lines of the health care industry and understand it in a way that outsiders simply can’t compete with. As mentioned above, this experience makes them exceptionally prepared to be successful entrepreneurs.
Long shifts, tough situations and the drive to help others give nurses perseverance that is hard to match. Nurses know that challenges will be put in their path, and they’re skilled at finding ways to overcome them. This is an admirable trait in an entrepreneur.
BUILD YOUR NURSING SKILLS
A great step to consider when making the transition from nursing to business is expanding your horizons in the classroom. Furthering your education with a bachelor’s degree can give you experiences that you can apply to both your nursing career and future business ventures.
These are just a fraction of the skills nurses have that help them make incredible entrepreneurs. Their skills coupled with their unique insight into the health care industry have helped many nurses create unique and useful businesses.
SUCCESSFUL NURSE ENTREPRENEUR IDEAS
Nurses are on the front lines of health care. That’s why they’re able to create ideas that positively affect the industry. Here are a few successful nurse entrepreneurs.
SHARON ROGONE, SMALL BEGINNINGS, INC.
Sharon Rogone worked as a NICU nurse in the 1980s. In that job, she made many makeshift tools when what was provided wasn’t right for tiny babies, some under two pounds. With just $2,000 in her pocket, she started Small Beginnings, Inc. The company makes products specifically designed for premature infants, such as diapers, positioning solutions and pacifiers. Since its founding in 1981, the company has grown significantly into a huge operation. Sharon and her products were added to the Smithsonian archives in 2008.
KEITH CARLSON, NURSE KEITH COACHING
Keith Carlson became a nurse in the mid-1990s. He worked in various specialties and leadership roles before becoming a nurse entrepreneur. He now helps other nurses navigate their nursing careers with his career coaching business, hosts a podcast called The Nurse Keith Show, and works as a freelance writer while maintaining his blog called Digital Doorway.
ANTHONY BATTAGLIA, POCKET NURSE
Former nurse Anthony Battaglia saw a need in the nursing realm in terms of simple organization. In 1992, he developed Pocket Nurse. At the time of its founding, Pocket Nurse offered one product, a pocket organizer that included bandage scissors, a hemostat, an integrated penlight and a nameplate. Now, the company offers more than 5,600 products including nursing simulation tools and medical supply solutions.
MELISSA GERSIN, TRANQUILO
As a maternity nurse and certified infant crying specialist, Melissa Gersin often saw new parents struggling with colicky babies. She felt it was her life’s mission to help these parents overcome the challenges of the newborn days. Her invention, the Tranquilo mat, mimics a mother’s womb with vibrations and white noise. Tranquilo launched on Shark Tank in 2017, and the company has sold tens of thousands of mats since.
These nurses are just a few of the professionals who identified a need and used their nursing background to turn that need into a profitable business. Today, more and more nurses are discovering that they can make a difference not just in the health care community, but in the business world, as well.
HOW TO BECOME A NURSE ENTREPRENEUR
There’s no clear path to becoming a nurse entrepreneur. While most nurse entrepreneurs hold multiple nursing degrees and have extensive professional experience, each nurse entrepreneur’s path will be different, and that’s to be expected. The important thing is to be thoughtful in your approach.
A great step to consider when making the transition from nursing to business is expanding your horizons in the classroom. Furthering your education with a bachelor’s degree can give you experiences that you can apply to both your nursing career and future business ventures. Notre Dame of Maryland University’s online RN to BSN program allows you to develop the skills you need to enhance your nursing career, whether in a health care setting or entrepreneurship. Plus, we help you do it quickly. Most students complete their online program in 15 to 18 months.
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Dasrine grew up in Jamaica and dreamed of going to college, but right after graduating from high school she was not able to afford it.
She moved to the United States and worked as an LPN for nine years before completing her RN. As she concluded her RN program, she determined she wouldn’t stop there. While researching BSN opportunities, she discovered the RN to MSN degree at Western Governors University, and decided it was the right opportunity for her. Around the same time she enrolled, she started a new job as a staff nurse and learned she was pregnant with her third child.
Dasrine and her husband were concerned that she was taking on too much at once. She consulted with her faculty mentor at WGU and together they created a plan to help her balance work, school, and family responsibilities, so that she could be successful in all areas of her life. She was able to take advantage of the flexibility at WGU, learning at her own pace and on her own schedule. The journey was definitely not an easy one for Dasrine, and she and her family were required to make a lot of sacrifices. But three years after she started, Dasrine completed her degree and last month celebrated at commencement festivities in Orlando, Florida. The moment was surreal for her, especially considering at one point she questioned how she would even be able to afford to go to college. And now she’s well on her way and living her dream.
With a busy and often hectic schedule, one would think that she would take a bit of a break, but think again. Dasrine is pursuing her Nurse Practitioner License from South University, in her ongoing quest to be the best nurse that she can be. During the process, Dasrine has set an example for those who follow in her footsteps, including her colleagues and her children, now ages 22, 12, and 2.
Looking back on her experience, Dasrine has some advice for nurses, young and old, who are starting in the health care field: “Take things one step at a time. Don’t get discouraged by how long it will take to earn your degree, or how old you are, or how long you’ve been out of school. Simply do it while you have the chance and you’ll create many new opportunities for yourself that you’ll be glad you did.”
As part of an ongoing commitment to develop a diverse workforce that reflects the patients and communities it serves, CVS Health announced strategic partnerships with two leading national organizations whose mission is to advance the multicultural nursing populations in the United States: the National Black Nurses Association (NBNA) and the National Association of Hispanic Nurses (NAHN).
Through these newly formed alliances, CVS Health, the nation’s largest pharmacy innovation company, will establish workforce development programs and strategies that facilitate multicultural talent acquisition to further develop the company’s own diverse nursing populations through education, training and colleague engagement. With a unique continuum of health care products and services, CVS Health supports a broad nursing workforce that includes: Nurse Practitioners who see patients through the company’s MinuteClinic network; Nurse Patient Care Specialists who serve the company’s specialty patients; Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension (PAH) Nurses who provide in-home education and infused medication therapies; and Patient Education Nurses who deliver disease education and case management to patients over the phone.
Additionally, these partnerships will enable CVS Health to increase the number of internships and scholarships that the company extends to multicultural candidates.
“At CVS Health, we recognize the strong connection between a culturally diverse nursing workforce and the ability to provide quality, culturally competent patient care,” said David Casey, Vice President, Workforce Strategies, and Chief Diversity Officer at CVS Health. “We value the multicultural communities, customers and patients we serve and we look forward to working closely with NBNA and NAHN, as we continue to help bridge the current nursing shortage in the United States and enhance access to quality care to underserved populations.”
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there will be more than one million open positions for registered nurses across the country by 2022. Moreover, while U.S. Census Bureau statistics show that ethnic minority groups account for 37 percent of the U.S. population, industry research shows that nurses from minority backgrounds represent only 19 percent of the RN workforce, with African-American and Hispanic nurses representing 6% and 3%, respectively.
“CVS Health and NBNA share the common goal of supporting the development of African American nurses which is reflective of our nation’s diversity,” said Eric J. Williams, DNP, RN, CNE, President, NBNA. “This new partnership will allow our two organizations to work collaboratively to increase access to care and improve the health of the communities we serve.”
“We’re grateful to CVS Health for partnering with NAHN to help achieve our mission of improving the quality of health care for Hispanic consumers,” said Celia Besore, Executive Director, NAHN. “We look forward to working together to provide equal access to educational, professional and economic opportunities for Hispanic nurses in our country.”
As one of the largest employers of pharmacists and nurse practitioners, CVS Health is committed to helping advance the education of talented students pursuing careers in the field. The CVS Health Foundation has provided scholarships to pharmacy students for many years and, in 2016, the Foundation will begin awarding funding to nursing and physician assistants schools to support the pipeline of much-needed nurse practitioners in local communities across the country.
About CVS Health
CVS Health is a pharmacy innovation company helping people on their path to better health. Through its more than 9,500 retail pharmacies, more than 1,100 walk-in medical clinics, a leading pharmacy benefits manager with more than 70 million plan members, a dedicated senior pharmacy care business serving more than one million patients per year, and expanding specialty pharmacy services, the Company enables people, businesses and communities to manage health in more affordable, effective ways. This unique integrated model increases access to quality care, delivers better health outcomes and lowers overall health care costs. Find more information about how CVS Health is shaping the future of health at https://www.cvshealth.com.
Statement from Dr. Eric J. Williams, President, National Black Nurses Association:
I commend President Obama for his leadership in tackling gun violence, which hits communities of color and the poor the hardest. Nurses, first responders and physicians are on the front lines, in the emergency rooms and hospital rooms, witnessing the devastation that gun violence brings on individuals, families and communities. It is vital that our Nation seek solutions to reduce violence, particularly gun violence. Moreover, reduction in violence of all forms, domestic violence, bullying in the work place, verbal and mental violence must end.
According to the Kelly Report:
- Gun violence has killed more Americans in the past 50 years than any single war
- gun violence poses a major threat in communities of color
- each year more than 100,000 people are victims of gun violence and more than 30,000 die each year
- individuals under age 25 , face the threat of gun violence.
As Nurses, we need to implement strategies to eliminate gun violence and create a culture of health where we live, work, play, and worship.
I am grateful that President Obama is pledging $500 million for mental health treatment. It is clear that our mental health system needs improvement. We know that those with mental health problems are more likely to harm themselves. Yet, more and more people with mental health are harming others through physical violence.
We need the ingenuity of all health care providers, all citizens, to end violence. The National Black Nurses Association will host its 28th Annual NBNA Day on Capitol Hill, Thursday, February 4, 2016. The theme of this signature event is “Addressing the Epidemic of Violence: NBNA’s Call to Action.” NBNA expects 300 nurses and nursing students to attend the all-day forum. The President’s actions are a great start. NBNA joins him in this national public health effort.
The National Black Nurses Association’s mission is to “represent and provide a forum for Black Nurses to advocate and implement strategies to ensure access to the highest quality of healthcare for persons of color.” For more information, please visit www.nbna.org.