Nursing is a tough profession. You work days, nights, holidays, weekends, in snow storms and through hurricanes. In the hospital you have a heavy patient load both literally and figuratively. You find yourself drowning in endless paperwork, clinical documentation rules and constantly being re-educated with software updates.
None of this speaks to the barrage of people who need you to do something for them— the doctor to the family member who needs more care than the patient, to the demands of the nurse manager to the supervisor who needs you to float to another unit . . . Again.
Why We Love Nursing
But nursing is also an amazing profession. No matter what nonsense our days bring us, we all live for that moment when we make a difference or provide great care to our patients. Nursing is the #1 most trusted profession, and that is a huge testament to how amazing we are!
A huge problem in nursing is the rate of burnout on the units. It is very difficult to be exposed day in and day out to the various stressors as mentioned above and not feel like you need to move on or do something else. At the very least, there has to be a way to make more money without more overtime.
What Else Can You Do?
Moving on is not a bad thing. But when you are trying to decide what else you can do, what do you find? Well, there are other clinical jobs such as nurse practitioner, clinical nurse specialist, or CRNA. These jobs don’t take the stressors away, though.
In fact, in many cases, these jobs bring you closer to the forefront of the stressors. As a nurse practitioner, the physicians see an opportunity to offload all the stuff they don’t feel like doing, and nurses see a path of least resistance. It is much easier (and better) to get the NP to solve a patient/family issue than to hunt down the physician.
Getting a clinical job such as NP, CNS or CRNA is a great idea if you want to stay near the bedside, but if you are still looking for something else instead or even in addition to, what else can you do?
The standard non-clinical nursing jobs that jump to mind include nursing administration type jobs—nurse manager, nurse supervisor, nurse informatics, nurse director, or chief nursing officer.
All good options if you really love dealing with every problem in the hospital, but if none of these appeals to you, then I have something else for you to consider.
What you probably haven’t realized is that there are hundreds and thousands of non-clinical jobs right in front of you. But you have to be able to “see” them. To “see” these opportunities, you need to change your mindset.
You need to see yourself not as Nancy Nurse who does what she is told, but as Nancy NursePreneur who sees every interaction at work as a potential product or service that can improve patient care, health systems, and relationships.
You want examples. Think about these to get you started:
1. You work on a surgical floor; you know patients after certain surgeries have trouble lifting their arms over their head to get dressed. Wouldn’t it be great to design stylish clothes with a front zipper?
2. You work on an orthopedic floor with lots of spine surgery. You know that exercise and movement will help patients rehab better. Wouldn’t it be great to have a personal training kit for these patients—either in person or in a group setting or recorded modules?
3. You work on a bone marrow transplant unit or chemo center. You know a large number of the patients you see on an ongoing basis are going to die relatively soon. But how many of them have found a way to say what they need to say to their families and friends? Wouldn’t it be great if there were a service that facilitated this process?
4. You work on a heart failure unit. You know that a significant number of patients will be repeatedly readmitted for various reasons. Wouldn’t it be great if there were a transitional care package that could provide an extensive teaching overview of what to do at home? (Unless, of course, you think the 5-minute discharge talk and 50-page document full of disclaimers is working).
5. You work in a bariatric unit. You know that initially, patients will follow a strict diet, but eventually, they will revert to old patterns, and within a few years, much of the weight may return. Wouldn’t it be great to create a community where patients can learn how to build a new lifestyle for themselves and have others who understand what it is like?
6. You work in a neurotrauma ICU. You know that patients who survive brain injury have some unique issues to contend with, such as impulsive behavior, personality changes, cognitive difficulties, among other things. Many marriages dissolve 1–2 years after brain injury because the spouse may not be able to cope with the changes. Wouldn’t it be great if there were a course to teach loved ones about brain injury, what to expect, and how to cope? In that same vein, if the marriage does fall apart, wouldn’t it be great if there were a program to help the patient recover from the loss and/or find a dating site that specializes in helping people with brain injury find love?
7. You work in a cardiac unit and know that improving one’s diet could reduce BP and lower the risk of diabetes. Wouldn’t it be great if there were a food delivery service that catered to the restrictions of a cardiac diet? Diabetic diet? Celiac diet?
There are hundreds and thousands of ideas right under your nose, and nursing is the only group that has this unique perspective to “see” them. We have almost exclusive rights to this knowledge. You could probably set up a business and sell your insights on business ideas to hungry entrepreneurs who can’t think of anything to do!
It Already Exists
Ok, so let’s say you agree with me that these are all great ideas and maybe you have even thought of a few more. But you say your hospital already does something similar to what you were thinking of, you already do your idea for free, or you wouldn’t know the first thing about how to make money off your idea or how to get started.
Fair enough. First, let’s address the “it already exists” issue. 99% of the time, unless you are Thomas Edison, if you have thought of some idea or concept, then someone else has also thought of the same thing as well.
This thing is actually good, not a bad thing or a deal-breaker. If whoever is doing “your idea” is doing a good job, then s/he has just made your life immensely more manageable. Not only have they proven that your idea is good and profitable, but they have tested the waters of what works and what doesn’t.
All you need to do is tailor the product or service to your personality and the needs of your population. Necessarily take the good, leave the bad and make it your own.
Let’s take an example of this. Blue Apron was one of the first food delivery services to come to the market. Do you think this encouraged or discouraged the competition? It encouraged them! That is why we now have ten different competitors in this space, all differentiating on some angle, whether it’s vegan, being healthy, being more flexible, using celebrity chefs, etc. It’s all good, and it’s even better for consumer choice and options.
No matter what already exists, you can improve upon it or find a differentiating angle. Competition is good, and you don’t want to be the only one in your space. The first to market, in general, paves the way for everyone else. So finding the competition is a huge plus!
If you are short on ideas, I would troll the Internet and find someone who is doing something you would like to do and tailor it to your needs and your population.
Right now, the Internet is full of everyday people selling goods and services in any category you can imagine. What I find most annoying though is that these people who are making tons of money as “health gurus” “IVF coaches” or “wellness experts” have zero backgrounds in any nursing or medical sciences.
And frequently a lot of them don’t even care about the topic, and they are just in it because it is profitable.
It Can Be Done For Free
Which leads me to Statement #2: I already do this for free.
My response to this is: Please stop doing it for free. When we go “above and beyond” as we always do as nurses, we are giving our knowledge and expertise away for free. Good right? Wrong. The problem is: Free = No value.
If Nurse A offers to do a 1:1 session with a patient and does an extensive discharge program with him for free and
Nurse B has a paid program online that goes over extensive discharge information, which program has more value?
The fact is this could be the very same program. BUT the patient will perceive the paid program as being better, and he will have higher expectations of the content, will be more likely to commit to the program and will be more engaged. This program is proven over and over again. It’s a fact, not my opinion.
Nurse A is going to burn out and start scrolling through the web searching terms such as how to get a non-clinical job in nursing.
Nurse B is going to use her nursing knowledge and expertise to build a profitable business and have a significant impact on way more people than she could without her company. As her business scales, her impact on healthcare will increase. She has the potential to replace her income as a nurse with her business, and she still stays true to her nursing roots.
Furthermore, if Nurse B gets media attention, then Nursing as a whole gets media attention. It’s a win-win-win for everyone.
So here is where I ask, why isn’t nursing leading the way in providing knowledge about healthcare to the general public and our patients? Why do the doctors start transitional care units that use nurses to do all the work? Why don’t nurses start those businesses?
How to Get Started
Why? Probably because of statement #3: You don’t know how to get started or make money from your idea.
This statistic is grossly obvious from that less than 0.1% of nurses are entrepreneurs, as well as from my research, which shows very few nurses are searching for ways to start a business.
The irony here is that there is an easy fix. Pretty much anyone who has started a business has run into this first obstacle. No one knows how to start a business when they first start. But there are about a million and one books and internet sites that will give the basics on where to start.
I’ve been through countless programs and books, as well as an MBA (which was surprisingly less helpful than my on the job training and learning via the Internet). I have curated the best of the best of what is out there and combined it with my knowledge of teaching and mentoring to create a step-by-step course on how to get started.
If you are curious to find out more, explore more through our website. And be sure to download our Guide to get subscribed to our list. I’ll take you on a journey through the process of starting a nursing business, and you can decide if this option is realistic for you or not. Not just anyone can be an entrepreneur, and I expect 80% of nurses won’t have the calling. And that is ok, and it’s better to know upfront.
But for the 20% of you who do want to do something larger than life, you couldn’t get into something at a better time or have found a better site to help you step-by-step!