I first met Kevin Ross last year through a mutual friend, Anna Morrison. Anna was a co host at RN FM Radio (she has since left) along with Kevin Ross and Keith Carlson. Kevin and Keith still broadcast weekly on Mondays nights, interviewing nurses who are making a difference creating alternative careers using their nursing expertise.
So when I heard Kevin make a comment on one of the broadcasts about being an Independent Nurse Contractor I reached out to him for an interview. This has been of interest to me for quite a while and it’s nice to know someone who’s doing this and doing it well, he’s inspired me to go down this path.
So a big Thank You to Kevin for taking the time out of his busy schedule to answer a few questions. Be sure to connect with Kevin after reading, he’s willing to help any nurse who has an interest in becoming an Independent nurse contractor or Nurse Consultant. Just scroll to the bottom and click on any of the links provided and be sure to tune in Monday nights at 9pm for RN FM Radio (link below) Enjoy!
What is an Independent Nurse Contractor?
Simply put, an Independent Nurse Contractor is a professional that is self-employed, and hired to perform a specific job or task for an individual or company. A contractor is not a W-2 employee, but is compensated for the agreed upon services provided, and performs these tasks under their own business entity.
The above definition is pretty cut and dry. I refer to myself as a consultant, which is essentially another name used for an independent contractor. A consultant is a professional that provides advice or services within their area of expertise. As an example, Nurses that are experienced in a specific specialty such as diabetes education or cardiac rehabilitation might provide input to an individual patient or to an organization about the latest trends, research, or tools to use when providing a particular support or service.
How do you get started?
First and foremost, a nurse needs to decide on an area that they have experience with and make sure that there is a need to fill. We’ll start with an example of a nurse who is employed in a hospital as a women’s health specialist or lactation consultant.
There are quite a few new (and experienced) moms out there that could really benefit from a consultant that provides maternal and child health education and advocacy services. Nurses can still be an integral part of the interdisciplinary team and involved in the care of a patient without being an employee of a hospital or medical practice.
To provide these types of services it is best to ensure a nurse is practicing within their state’s nurse practice act, and to perform the duties just as a nursing professional would as an employee of an organization. And, yes, this still means documenting what you’re doing for the patient and any communication or follow up needed with a patient’s prescribing healthcare provider if this is the type of service a nurse is actually providing as mentioned in the above example.
There are additional tasks that need to occur before hanging your own shingle and these include, but are not limited to:
- Establishing a business entity (LLC or Corporation is what I recommend)
- Obtaining general liability and malpractice insurance (Please don’t practice without it)
- A simple consultation with an accountant to discuss tax responsibilities and implications. This is minimal and a good investment.
- The tools needed to perform the tasks. This is dependent on your specific services, but will range from having a computer with Internet access to blood pressure cuffs, stethoscopes, and any other tools a nurse would use to assess and provide supports to a patient. Again, this will be determined once you’ve decided on the services you’re providing.
- Drive, persistence, and a willingness to learn and collaborate with other entrepreneurs.
This is certainly not a comprehensive list, but does encompass a few of the “musts” for a nurse to become a self-employed consultant.
How do you market yourself?
When I first started my business over 5 years ago at my dining room table, I struggled with how I was going to get the word out about my business. One word of advice to the readers, a brochure just isn’t going to cut it. This is 2013 and a digital world. I still advise going “old school” and actually calling people and letting them know you’re out here providing a particular product or service and the need you’re trying to meet.
As a nurse how many times have you been asked or called on by friends or family about some medical issue they have and looking to you for some input? Disclaimer: I’m not proposing anyone diagnose without the proper licensure and/or experience, but you know where I’m coming from.
You might be surprised when you engage in random conversations with people as it often comes up in some way that you’re a nurse, then you dive a little deeper into your business venture, and it just so happens that they know someone who might benefit from the services you’re providing. This is how I was able to launch my business, but I continue to network with other consultants and healthcare providers, engage in social media, and take advantage of every opportunity just to meet new people and share our stories. Keep your head on a swivel, you never know where an opportunity will present itself.
Any advise for nurses interested in doing this?
Another first piece of advice that I give nurses I mentor about becoming self-employed is that if they’re looking for an easy job, then entrepreneurship is going to be a huge disappointment. I’ve worked harder than I ever have in the clinical setting, but one of the main differences is that I’m also my own boss, so I get to say “when.” If I need a break, then I take it. I decide the who, what, and when in my business.
A second piece of advice is to remove your own obstacles about starting a business. There are going to be some hurdles to jump and these exist for just about any entrepreneur out there so don’t limit yourself before you even get started. Really take a hard look at your skill set and assess your ability to fill the need. There shouldn’t be any question about whether you’re a hard worker, dedicated, creative, and passionate. You’re a nurse! You may not feel this way in the clinical setting, but nurses are well-respected professionals, and this speaks volumes out there in the public eye. This is in fact your target demographic, the public.
Most importantly, I reiterate the importance of finding other consultants and don’t be afraid to ask questions. Most of us appreciate helping budding entrepreneurs. Lastly of course, those Q&A sessions may only go so far and a consultant’s time is precious, so hiring a nurse business coach or mentor may be necessary. An investment in a coach on the front end can really save you a lot of time and money on the back end.
How did you learn about this career option?
Five years ago I actually did a search for “Independent Nurse Contractor” with very few if any viable results to work with. I essentially asked myself this question: “If an attorney, a plumber/electrician, a massage therapist, or an accountant can be self-employed, but still require some kind of licensure or certification, then why can’t I?” These professionals still have to work within their scope of practice and skill set, right?
Any books/courses on Independent Nurse Contractors?
This isn’t going to be for everyone, but I personally read Entrepreneur Magazine, Fast Company, Forbes, and just about anything technology related. I of course can’t forget about the health related content that I consume for various (reputable) resources that help me in my clinical practice so that I can stay informed about the patient populations I serve.
The National Nurses in Business Association is a good resource, and the Nurse Entrepreneur Network is also available. I can’t necessarily say that there is a one size fits all online course or mentoring program that I’m aware of. I will however share with you that I am aligned with many other great entrepreneurs and organizations out there, and if I can’t help you directly, then I’ll point you in the direction of someone who can.
Kevin has over sixteen years of combined entrepreneurial and healthcare experience with a passion to innovate in every aspect of business and his nursing practice. In fact, Kevin’s drive to learn from, and surround himself with the best motivated a move from Colorado to solely pursue a career opportunity at Johns Hopkins Hospital In Baltimore, MD in the Cardiovascular Surgical Intensive Care Unit (CSICU) where the Cardiology department is ranked #3 in the nation by US News and World Report (2011-12). Read more about Kevin by clicking here.
Connect with Kevin – Twitter | Facebook | You Tube | RN FM Radio | Spire Health Partners, Inc.
Once again, another great interview from a very smart guy, thanks Kevin!