How I Became a Nurse Entrepreneur

How I Became a Nurse Entrepreneur

I have always had an interest in owning my own business but what could I do independently as a nurse? Without having a clue as to where to start, I conducted a general search, and found a book about starting a nursing agency. Thinking to myself, “I could do that!” I bought the book, but when I started reading, I realized the information was very generic. There were no specific “how-to” details; instead, it provided a very basic outline.

After finishing the book, I realized there was no blueprint for me to follow to start my own business. I would have to start down the path of becoming a nurse entrepreneur completely in the dark and form my agency on my own.

My Journey to Becoming a Nurse Entrepreneur

I first determined what expenses I would incur, made a budget, and then a business plan. At first, I felt lost in this process as my professional experience was strictly in the nursing world where I would care for patients without involvement on the business side of healthcare. I tried to seek help from friends who had gone through this process in different industries, but it became abundantly clear that my situation was unique. They were able to offer little support because starting an independent nurse-led business was a relatively novel concept. Undeterred, I persisted and found my way. I decided upon a name for my agency and determined the type of legal entity my company would be, went to the state office and registered my new business!

At this point I knew it was time to begin marketing activities. I had brochures and business cards made and mailed to prospective facilities. I asked my nursing colleagues to refer their friends who wanted to have per diem opportunities. I continued the process by building a website, figured out payroll processing, and just kept trying to move forward.

The whole experience of starting a business took me approximately one year, dedicating a lot of research, time and expenses. There were some bumps along the way, but resiliency was key to my progress. Shaping my company is still an ongoing process, with lessons learned almost daily, but after eight years of continued success I feel that every year gets better and better and the lessons learned are teaching opportunities to improve!

I want to share my story to help other nurses realize they too can become nurse entrepreneurs. Nurses should feel empowered to conquer their fears and begin down the path to becoming independent business owners. Navigating the process was not easy for me because I had no business experience and no idea where to start. Providing nurses with the tools they need and guiding them through the process of building and running a business, is a huge gap in the industry today. I was thrilled when I was introduced to the team and concepts being developed at AlyxHealth. Dedicated to helping nurses thrive, AlyxHealth would have provided me with the tools I did not have at my disposal back when I started my own nurse-led business.

Why would a nurse want to start a business? 

Nurses today work harder than ever, many times in understaffed and unsafe situations to care for their patients. With more new nurses leaving the profession than ever due to these situations, this has to stop! I want to be sure that all patients are taken care of by a nurse—now, and in the future—and if the number of job vacancies keeps rising, we will have no one left to care for our sick and injured!

When talking with prospective nurse entrepreneurs who have expressed interest in starting their own businesses, I hear the same common concerns including: 

  • lack of confidence in themselves; nurses are great at caring for people but are often intimidated by the financial aspect of healthcare.
  • lack of support (financial and emotional) and not knowing who to ask for help.
  • lack of expertise and fear of the unknown.

What kind of a business can a Registered Nurse run independently?

  1. Patient coaching (for example, a Critical Care Nurse can teach heart health techniques for patients that are post-heart attack)
  2. Diabetic management – Education
  3. Wound care
  4. Foot Care – Assessment
  5. Private Duty Nursing Care – patient advocate, patient administration, wellness check
  6. Dementia Care Therapy for private patients or facility educators

What kind of a business can an Advanced Practice Registered Nurse run?

In 23 US states, an APRN can practice INDEPENDENTLY from a physician (with more and more states changing their guidelines).

Walk-In Clinic concept practices, such as:

  1. School/work/camp physicals
  2. Rashes
  3. Cuts/wound care
  4. Suturing
  5. Cough and Cold symptoms
  6. Medication management
  7. General practitioner care

More Specialized APRN degrees can also include practices in:

  • Psychiatric
  • Family
  • Geriatric
  • General Practice
  • Midwife

The more RNs and APRNs providing care in the communities, the better the care will be!

About the Author

Karen O’Donnell is a Registered Nurse and the owner of Caring Nurses Staffing Agency LLC. More recently, Karen has taken on the role of Senior Director of Clinical Solutions and Practitioner Success at First Matrix Health, the creator of the AlyxHealth platform. AlyxHealth allows nurses to personalize their services and fees, set their own business hours, and choose where to deliver care. More information can be found on their website, www.alyxhealth.com.

Listen to the Chapter Podcasts for Jonas and Kovner's Health Care Delivery in the United States


Gain a better understanding of the current state of the US health care system and how it might impact your work and life.

You have Successfully Subscribed!