Nurses enjoy more career options than ever as growth in the healthcare industry continues at a record pace. One emerging nursing career trend involves combining clinical expertise with business skills to create a healthcare business as a nurse entrepreneur.
It’s a choice that gives nurses more control over their career by leveraging the highly valued skills they learn in an online RN to BSN nursing program to develop and lead needed healthcare services. Potential businesses exist in every corner of the healthcare industry. Opportunities include nurse staffing agencies, home healthcare services, professional consulting, and medical device sales.
Reaping the financial and professional rewards of running a healthcare business requires nurse entrepreneurs to develop strong business skills. With these skills, successful nurse entrepreneurs also combine creativity and willingness to work hard. But the benefits, and the chance to act as their own boss, make it worthwhile for ambitious nurses.
Steps to Becoming a Nurse Entrepreneur
The National Nurses in Business Association (NNBA) encourages nurses to think about their own “dream job” as the first step in starting a healthcare business.
“As a nurse, your self-employment and business options are unlimited. You have an advantage over the general public because you are a nurse, highly-skilled, college-educated, and talented,” the NNBA writes. “Your new job may not bear any resemblance to your old nursing job, but it most likely will build on your nursing knowledge and skills.”
Getting there requires taking specific steps in your nursing career.
For every nursing profession, the first step is earning a degree in nursing. You can still enter the profession with an associate degree. However, an increasing number of employers want nurses to hold a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). Nurses then must pass the NCLEX-RN exam before getting a license to work as a nurse.
Some nurses also complete a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN), allowing them to become a nurse practitioner and specializing in areas such a pediatric nurse practitioner and family nurse practitioner.
Time spent in the profession gives nurses real-world experience, allowing them to learn the details of the healthcare system as well as the areas where they excel. This is a critical step in determining the type of healthcare business they want to create.
Nurses also need a passion for improving how healthcare is delivered to succeed with their own business, notes the National Nurse Practitioner Entrepreneur Network (NNPEN), a resource organization for nurse entrepreneurs. The NNPEN writes on its website that those who become nurse practitioners should have the passion “to be change agents” who improve how healthcare services are delivered to patients.
Before becoming a nurse entrepreneur, nurses need to learn various aspects of how successful businesses are run. This includes the basics of business finance, as well as marketing, advertising, and sales.
Before starting a business, it’s important to have a business plan. The plan should include a budget and projections of potential revenues – all-important for attracting investors. Writing for Daily Nurse, Karen O’Donnell said starting her nurse staffing agency took about a year. Her process included business planning, building a website, learning payroll processing, and creating marketing material.
She wrote: “Nurses should feel empowered to conquer their fears and begin down the path to becoming independent business owners.”
The McNair Center for Entrepreneurship and Free Enterprise
Successful entrepreneurship requires a singular vision and drive to succeed. That doesn’t mean, however, that you must go it alone as you build your healthcare business. The McNair Center for Entrepreneurship and Free Enterprise at Houston Christian University provides resources, support, and mentorship in business creation and growth.
In addition, HCU now offers an online Master of Science in Management and Entrepreneurship degree program. Earning an MSME degree from Houston Baptist provides graduates with advanced skills, knowledge, and preparation for success in business.
Examples of Nurse Entrepreneur Businesses
The type of business a nurse entrepreneur runs depends on her area of expertise. Some common examples, taken from the NNBA and NNPEN include the following.
Running a practice: Nurse practitioners often follow this path because they have the expertise to perform duties once handled by general practitioner doctors. Nurse practitioner offices are especially in demand in rural and urban center areas where doctors are often scarce.
Home health services: As the population ages, home health services continue to grow. Older people who wish to “age in place” in their homes require medical services that skilled nurses can provide.
Medical devices: Some nurses specialize in selling medical devices, many of them for home healthcare patients. Innovative technology has led to the expanded use of these devices, including those that collect patient data and transmit it to clinicians for monitoring.
Consulting: Experienced nurses also create consultant or independent nurse contractor businesses. In this area, nurses typically work temporarily with a hospital, clinic, or doctor’s offices to establish or improve healthcare services in an area where the nurse has expertise.
Whatever course they choose, nurses can take more control over the career by becoming nurse entrepreneurs. There are risks to running a small business. But with that risk comes the potential for success and freedom. This potential for independent success will attract more nurses to this unique area of the profession in the years to come.