As a nurse, you will always work for and on behalf of others, but that doesn’t mean that your career has to take a back seat. There are many ways that you can move into leadership roles or even start your own business. The fact of the matter is your job is in human health, which makes what you do fairly universal and very customizable.
You can start a clinic of your own or use your nursing knowledge and specialization in a non-nursing business opportunity. Even within healthcare, there are options. You can work for yourself, can offer your experience in consultation, and of course, can even lead in an executive-level position.
While you can do a lot from the moment you earn your RN qualification, do know that furthering your experience is going to open up more opportunities for you both within the health sector and outside of it.
You don’t need to start and run your own company to be a nurse entrepreneur; you just need the attitude of one. With the attitude of an entrepreneur, you can get more out of your career and really start to get the most out of your nursing experience.
Earn an MSN
Many higher-level positions and business opportunities will need you to be, at the very least, an APRN. This requires you to earn an MSN in any given specialization. Alternatively, you may want to consider a nurse leadership master’s, which gives you the additional CNL certification but does not qualify you to work as an APRN.
Always choose a specialization that interests you, even if your ultimate goal is to work outside of patient care. Executive-level positions take time and strategy in order to acquire, and you will need a lot of practical experience in leadership positions before you can get started. By working as an APRN in a field, you enjoy, you can better serve yourself and your career.
Earn a DNP
If your goal is to instead lead and work in executive-level roles like the Director of Nursing, then a Doctor of Nursing Practice can be the best way to make your mark in the world of healthcare. The DNP is different than the PhD. The DNP is largely practice focused, while the PhD is research focused.
You will be prepared to lead nurses at the highest level and know how to improve nursing practice as a whole, so that patient outcomes improve across the board. You will be a doctorate-prepared nurse in your area of expertise. The overall goal of the DNP is to help you improve healthcare as a whole with a focus on practice, policy change, and practice scholarship.
You will have many resources available to you as well. You’ll have mentors and preceptors, diverse practice settings, information, and patient care technology resources, and of course, there is financial aid that you will have access to as well.
Top Online DNP programs typically take less than two years to complete and are designed so that you can continue to work in your current role. You will need to hold an MSN and have worked as an APRN in order to apply, but as you often need both of these qualifications in order to apply for advanced leadership roles in the first place, you will be on the right track.
Top Nurse Business Ideas to Consider
You can start your own business as a nurse.
- Open Your Own Clinic
One of the best ways that you can really embody what it means to be a nurse entrepreneur is to open your own clinic. This is not available to all nurses and is not possible in every state. If your state gives FNPs full autonomy, however, you will typically be able to open and manage a clinic of your own. If your state does not provide full autonomy, then you will need to consider how you can open a clinic from a purely business standpoint. Starting a clinic and then hiring physicians and nurses to run it is different than starting a clinic where you provide the key services.
- Start a Health Brand
Nurses are health experts and, as such, can use that expertise to start a wide variety of businesses and consultancies. One of the best options is to start a consultancy. In this consultancy, you will typically work to help other health organizations improve their quality of patient care. Alternatively, you may work for non-healthcare organizations to improve their health and safety standards.
If you want to be done with nursing as a whole, you can start up a health, fitness, or lifestyle brand. Use your background in nursing as your unique selling point to grow your business, find clients, and make your mark.
- Work Privately
You can usually work privately with your own patients. This is particularly true if you offer care and end-of-life care or are a certified nurse-midwife. There are additional measures and steps that will need to be taken in order to take on and manage your own patients. What you can do and cannot do will depend on where you live and where your patients reside. If in doubt, hiring someone to help set your business up in line with the latest rules and regulations (particularly when it comes to taxes and other business expenses) will be instrumental to your success.
Top Executive Positions in Nursing
Managing a business of your own is not the only option ahead of you. There are many excellent executive-level positions that will allow you to lead and make a big difference within nursing and healthcare. Just as someone who earns an MBA may start their own company or look for executive leadership positions, the same applies to high-level nurses.
Though far from exhaustive, this list includes the top executive nurse leadership positions you could apply for.
- Director of Nursing
The first executive-level role in this list is Director of Nursing. Not only will you need plenty of nursing experience you should also have previous leadership experience. You may have worked as a Clinical Nurse Manager, for example, or at the very least led a team of your own.
The Director of Nursing is the highest position in nursing in a hospital. Not only will you be responsible for improving patient care throughout the unit, department, or facility you will also be in charge of all nurses and their well-being. To become a Director of Nursing, you will need at least an MSN, and ideally a DNP on top of a long career in leadership behind you. Unlike other nursing positions, there is only one Director of Nursing in a hospital, which can make it far more competitive than other nursing positions.
- Chief Nursing Officer
The Chief Nursing Officer is another executive-level position. While the Director of Nursing focuses more on patient care, the CNO works to ensure that the entire department and even facility runs smoothly. Not only will you need to be a great nurse and leader, but you also need technical knowledge of organizational systems, budgeting and finances, and other business essentials. The CNO earns on average around $127,784 per year, with those in the top 10% earning $200,000 or more. This is the base salary. Typically, CNOs also receive bonuses or profit-sharing benefits as well.
- Chief Executive Officers
The CEO, CFO, COO, VP – there are many executive officers that are necessary to run a big operation like a hospital. The difference with these roles, however, is that you do not need to have a clinical background in order to work in them. Instead, you need business and leadership skills. On average, these roles are around $100,000 per year, but some executive leaders earn seven-figure salaries.
Though you don’t need a clinical background having one is an easy way to stand out. You will likely work as the CNO, or other top nursing position first and then need to go above and beyond to stand out. Very rarely are these executive positions advertised. Instead, you need to be there, ready and pushing for the opportunity to really take control and improve the healthcare organization you work for.
Be Flexible, Be Free
Nursing is a demanding position, which is why you need to adapt your career to suit your health needs and priorities. Always explore your options and plan different phases of your career. Working directly with patients in a busy environment can work when you are young, but as you get older and want to slow down, your career should adjust to accommodate you. Moving into non-patient leadership roles, educator roles, or starting your own business can help you stay fulfilled and can be just what you need to bring home larger salaries.
That being said, you can always return as well. For example, you may take a step back after you have kids and work in an administrative role or start your own health brand. When they are old enough, however, you may want to go back into work as an RN or APRN and help patients once more. There is no right or wrong, just the right decision at the moment. Put yourself and your needs first, and your career should follow suit.