I knew very little about entrepreneurship when I started down this path several years ago. I had the idea and vision for Know My Patient®. I knew that every bedside nurse deserves an opportunity to have accurate, up to date information needed for patient care at their fingertips. I knew chasing after information was a waste of their time and energy when it could be sent to them electronically and available in a mobile device from the comfort of their pocket. I knew nurses wanted to feel like nurses and not data entry specialists. Thus, I decided with these knowns, the best way to bring Know My Patient® to life would be to start a company, Nightingale Apps.
However, unlike the rest of my career to date at that time, I did not have a nursing mentor to help guide me through the general process of taking an idea, bringing it to life, and then turning it into a company. At that time, I did not know of any other Nurse Entrepreneurs. While I didn’t see that as a barrier to my desired pathway, many others would often try to deter me from the chosen path. I reached a point where I could see in someone’s eyes that he or she was thinking. “You are going to do what?”. Instead of letting the reactions deter me, I decided to begin to learn what it meant to be an entrepreneur and learn from others.
The word entrepreneur is defined as “one who organizes, manages, and assumes the risks of a business or enterprise”. Applying that definition, the Nurse Entrepreneur is one who has identified an opportunity to solve a problem in health care that can be executed through a business entity. We all know there are many opportunities to improve health care. However, we, as nurses, don’t all realize that deciding to take on that opportunity can be a viable, profitable option that drives an impact on those whom you are providing your product, service or solution.
I remember hearing from someone several months ago, “You’re a nurse and an entrepreneur? I didn’t know you could do that.” That statement gives me a chuckle because there really are no barriers to entrepreneurship. There are no degree requirements or certifications required to start down this path. What you do need is an entrepreneurial way of thinking, an idea, and a plan to execute that you are willing to adjust as you begin to pave your own path.
You might be thinking, “Well, is it (e.g., entrepreneurship) hard?” Yes, it is hard. Nursing school is hard. The NCLEX is hard. Caring for sick and dying patients is hard. Entrepreneurship is a different kind of ‘hard’ work. However, I always come back to what it felt like to care for patients and their families. Nurses save lives every day. If you can do that, you are well equipped for a path toward entrepreneurship. However, you have to want to do it and it will not be a path for everyone. That is ok too.
Over the last several months I’ve been introduced to several Nurse Entrepreneurs and Innovators. With each new week, I learn of other nurses that have decided to create their own path and are thriving in their niche. I have also learned of nurses who have created solutions in health care that I never knew started from a nurse. For example, the crash cart and the Wong-Baker Faces Scale both started from a nurse who identified a problem with the current method of managing code situations or childhood pain.
I often talk to groups about how we as a profession need to be our best advocates. We need to demonstrate the power of our profession by modeling the way to others. Instead of complaining about some of our professional challenges (my personal pet peeve is how nurses are portrayed in television), we need to turn that around and be more on the offense in a positive constructive way. We must show others what we do and how we do it. Perhaps we will inspire others to become nurses. Perhaps we will reduce stereotypes of what we do at the bedside or what our capabilities are as professional nurses. With so many available outlets at our fingertips today, we have the ability to make an impact for others with minimal barriers.
To take a first step toward this, I decided that we, Nightingale Apps LLC, would form an initiative to showcase other entrepreneurial (and intrapreneurial) nurses who are identifying opportunities where they are making a strong, positive impact on health care through their unique skill sets and perspective on what is currently missing. This initiative is called, Nightingale’s Innovative Nurses and we will be showcasing these nurses through our Nightingale Apps newsletter and social media outlets.
Our first Innovative Nurse, Andrew Craig, RN, is a Travel Nurse that has started his own Travel Nurse business, HubbleSweet PLLC and has a YouTube channel with videos to help educate nurses on the Travel Nurse industry. You can learn more about him and his entrepreneurial mindset here: http://bit.ly/2xI03dj.
I’d like to invite any of you reading this who are interested in learning more or being featured to either reach out to me directly or to our team at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’d love to learn about what you are doing and/or someone else that you might know who fits this description. The Nightingale Apps team and I are excited about this effort. As much as we need nurses to care for patients, we also need nurses to pave new paths for those to come and give a view into what else is possible within the nursing profession.
Dr. Tiffany Kelley