Nurses know what’s possible. They have the vision to uncover unmet needs and the tenacity, experience, and passion to respond to them.
So it’s no wonder why many are taking those skills beyond the bedside into business, creating innovative and successful companies that are elevating their careers and the impact they can have on others.
We’re proud to support their possible and recognize the work of 10 nurse entrepreneurs who are taking care of business, empowering others to follow in their entrepreneurial footsteps, and reimagining the future of care and nursing.
Let’s meet them.
1. Emily Cheng, BSN, RN, CCRN-CSC & Ryan Cogdill, BSN, RN — Co-founders, MedVenture
Cheng and Cogdill, both travel nurses, identified a common challenge — a lack of community in the rapidly growing travel nursing industry. Without a hospital to call “home,” they felt disconnected from being part of a rooted unit community.
From that need, MedVenture was born — a social and community app that traveling nurses and other healthcare professionals from around the country can use to connect and meet in person. MedVenture also provides resources and tips to help travelers navigate their journey — at every stage of their traveling careers — from getting started to ensuring safety to managing finances.
Cheng and Cogdill are launching their first MedVenture Camp, an adventure in nature for traveling healthcare professionals. The four-day/three-night event will focus on mental health, healing, and wellness in the great outdoors. MedVenture Camp is currently accepting interested travelers on a waitlist for camp in the summer of 2023.
2. Tamarra Crandall, DNP, MSN, RN — CEO, Crystal Hearts Healthcare Staffing, LLC
Crandall’s experience working during the pandemic at multiple travel nursing assignments, including at an ICU in early 2020, called out a growing problem — many of the staffing agencies did not have their nurses’ best interests in mind. Further, with a nursing shortage fueling a booming staffing industry, she felt that many of the agencies were making money at the expense of their employee-nurses’ safety.
In response, she expanded on a home health agency she had started to create Crystal Hearts Healthcare Staffing. The agency partners with healthcare organizations around the country to staff traveling home health aides and nurses in exciting, safe new environments.
Crandall’s commitment to her profession doesn’t stop with Crystal Hearts. As part of her passion for entrepreneurship, she created Business Basics, an online course to educate and empower nurses to use their skills to create other sources of income beyond traditional, hospital-based roles.
In January 2023, Crandall will further her work as an entrepreneurial advocate, launching a coaching program. “The business coaching group is really to inspire nurses to take a leap of faith to explore business,” she shares. “My monthly accountability group will help cultivate the ideas of its members and provide resources to help their businesses grow.” As she has done for her own career endeavors, Crandall has set her sights high for her student entrepreneurs — to achieve six-figure income their first year.
3. Joey Ferry, BSN, RN & Taofiki Gafar-Schaner, MSN, RN — Frontier Innovations
Frontier Innovations was conceived when Gafar-Schaner, a cardiovascular neurovascular nurse, discovered a need for a better solution for patients with seizure precautions. Realizing this wasn’t just a problem at his facility, he spent the next few months mapping out his plan. He reached out to fellow nurse Ferry, and together they created their flagship product, SafeSeizure Standard, a flat self-inflating, universal-size pad for adult and pediatric beds. They also offer SafeSeizure Crib to fit pediatric crib beds.
As winners of the 2020 American Nurses Association Innovation Award, Ferry and Gafer-Schaner want to encourage more nurses to join them in taking the leap into innovation. The pair recently held a competition in which nurses pitched their ideas, with the prize of an all-expense trip to the ANCC National Magnet Conference.
4. Tara Kosmas, MSN, RN, NC-BC, SOAR — Debriefing the Front Lines
In March 2020 — when the world seemed to stop — nurses kept going and going. And as they did, they became fearful for their colleagues, patients, families, and themselves. Eighteen-year nursing veteran Kosmos realized how much. “nurses needed a psychologically safe space outside their affiliated workplace to express emotion, free of judgment.”
Research backs up the need for mental health support. According to findings from a literature review published in the Journal of Clinical Nursing, almost 96% of nurses report experiencing at least one symptom of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Nearly 21% meet the criteria for a clinical diagnosis of PTSD.
Debriefing the Front Lines supports nurses in multiple ways, including through nurse coaching and its Heal the Healers Programs, which offers psychological first aid, sustained emotional wellness resources, and debriefing scholarships.
To keep up with the skyrocketing need for mental health care, DTFL is hiring additional debriefing facilitators and board-certified nurse coaches in 2023.
In addition, nurses working at the bedside and beyond will have access to an online self-care portal that includes educational resources, journal prompts, meditations, and nervous system regulation tools. DTFL will also launch the DTFL CEU Learning Library where nurses can access a variety of courses written by nurse educators, experts, and creators.
5. Victoria Randle, MSN, NP-C — Founder, The Secret Cocktail
During her 17-year career as a nurse practitioner, Randle discovered a troubling trend: the quality of CNAs. To inspire change in 2018, she created the Secret Cocktail, a CNA school consultancy group. The Secret Cocktail has consulted with over 150 schools to help them start and grow their programs; network with other school owners, marketers, and attorneys; and access financial resources. Randle is also a motivational speaker who has given Tedx Talks about remembering to live with purpose.
Randle has changed her signature CEU Train the CNA Trainer course to an online model, allowing students to learn more conveniently and at their own pace. Lastly, she just launched HERO Institute, a healthcare training school located in Marietta, GA. A hub for certificate education, such as phlebotomist, medical assistant, and patient care tech, the school also serves as a content house for healthcare content creators who need medical props, filming assistance, or ideas on creating engaging content for their customers. This new endeavor will launch in March 2023.
Nurse by day, film producer by night is Roots’ tagline — and it fits. As a certified dialysis nurse, she is used to educating patients by developing processes and solving problems. She views film in the same way.
In 2021, she launched Kidney Keeper, a business that educates the community about kidney health. In that role, she helps patients connect the dots when it comes to chronic illnesses and educates them about the importance of understanding their kidney numbers and anything else related to their health. It wasn’t until she was invited by a friend in the film industry to take part in a project that she discovered her love of film. Since that original project, she’s made 13 films in a variety of genres.
During her own experience at the bedside during the COVID-19 pandemic, she was inspired to chronicle the stories of nurses who became ill or passed on from the disease as a way to keep a record. When she asked other nurses if she could record their stories, they jumped at the opportunity. With those experiences, she created the award-winning documentary film, 2020 Year of the Nurse, which tells the story of Black nurses and practitioners throughout the country and how the pandemic disproportionately impacted them. The film was originally released during Nurses Week 2021 and was a part of the film festival circuit in 2022.
Roots plans to self-distribute the film to keep its artistic integrity and cohesiveness and to honor the stories of the nurses it portrayed. Her goal is to get the film in front of as many audiences as possible in 2023, capitalizing on the buzz generated by its many film festival showings, positive reviews, and awards.
She is also working on a new project, detailing the lives of nurses. She’s already spent some time filming and is looking to pitch to the film industry after the new year in 2023.
7. Teresa Sanderson, RN, CCM — Founder, Nurses Feed Their Young
In the nursing industry, “eating their young” refers to seasoned nurses bullying less-experienced teammates. Due to her own dissatisfaction with less-experienced nursing professionals, Sanderson decided to enact change by creating Nurses Feed Their Young, an online, emotional intelligence coaching program to help current and aspiring nurse leaders. The program is designed to help nurses at all levels — from chief nursing officers to charge nurses to preceptors — to change the nursing culture and foster the next generation of nursing leadership.
The coaching program is a 12-week virtual coaching circuit with live sessions and tools available to groups of online participants. The goal is to inspire lively discussions of how nurses can put the tools they are learning into practice in their workplaces so they can show up differently for their patients and colleagues.
Sanderson is taking her coaching program far and wide and looking to have a certified Nurses Feed Their Young coach in every state. She will also be doing a cross-country speaking tour focusing on healthcare associations and organizations that are shaping the next generation of nurse leaders. She believes that healthcare leadership exists to “create a positive environment for nurses” and the responsibility for helping that happen falls on the work environment. She would eventually like to get her program and principles on the curriculum at the university level so nurses could leave school equipped to be competent leaders.
8. Hadley Vlahos, RN — Nurse Hadley, Hadley’s Hospice House
When she originally built her social media following, Vlahos sought to share her experiences as a mom, wife, and nurse. In particular, she wished to bring in her experience as a hospice nurse, who could share wisdom that people working with people at the end of their lives could offer and the inequities long-term patients often face. Today, with a platform of more than a million TikTok and 100,000 Instagram followers, she’s building on her reach to impact hospice patients and their families even more.
Vlahos is in the process of writing and publishing her first book with Penguin Random House, due out in 2023. She is also looking to launch Hadley’s Hospice House — a place where patients on hospice can go to receive quality respite care and where their family members can get a much-needed break from caring for their terminally ill loved ones. She has formed the nonprofit and is looking into funding and bringing this dream into a reality.
These stories of nurses building their dream businesses around their passion for nursing are inspiring. Not only do they provide a breath of fresh air of good people doing great things, but they give more nurses the guts and gusto to create a business plan and strategize how to put more dreams into reality. Have a great entrepreneurial story to share? Reach out to us on @MyBerxi on Instagram.
Image courtesy of istock.com/everythingpossible