Copied from Nursing Spectrum:
Making Changes for the Millennium, Corrine Latini, RNC
Mom, is this your midlife crisis? My son posed this question to me when I announced that I was going back to school and registering as a business. My explanation was more like, "I'm trying to find out what I want to be when I grow up." Actually, I needed to sort out the changing face of nursing for myself.
A quarter of a century ago, I graduated from nursing school. Upon graduation, I did what most of us did at that time: worked on a med/surg floor on the 11 PM to 7 AM shift. After several years, I went to work as charge nurse on the 1 PM to 9 PM shift in an operating room.
I left hospital work in 1981 and had two sons over the next four years. I became a dental assistant, so I was still able to use my nursing skills. In 1987, I returned to nursing as a home care nurse. The leadership and decision-making skills that I had learned in the hospital were invaluable in this new venture, and I found that I enjoyed doing patient teaching, wound care, blood draws, and more in the home setting. Unfortunately, changes in home care and merging of agencies with the "get in, get out" mentality taking over led me to leave the field I had spent the last decade in.
A friend who needed wound care opened up opportunities that I never had considered. Doing twice-a-day wound care on an acquaintance and accepting a fee for that service took me down many roads. I wanted to do things right, so I investigated becoming a business and registering with a trade name. My malpractice insurance would cover such a venture. I made a lot of phone calls and wrote many letters to the state nursing board, the division of consumer affairs, the American Nurses Association, lawyers, authors in the field of nursing, and even to Nursing Spectrum. I attended a free consultation at Rutgers University's Regional Small Business Center that was informative. The Division of Ombudsman helped clear up questions on some state issues.
After much research, I went to the Hall of Justice in Camden, NJ, where the office of the county clerk is located and registered my business as Neighborhood Nurse. Registering the name cost $30. The search fee was $3, and the certified certificate was $3. It is not required by law to register as a business if you are not using a trade name, but for professional reasons I decided to do it this way. I am a sole proprietorship, the simplest form of a business.
I also felt the need to upgrade my educational status, so I enrolled in a BSN program in 1996. It's an external degree program that fits my needs very nicely. As a graduate of a diploma school, I had no credits going into the program, and at present I have earned 59 credits. I used CLEP exams, Regent's College nursing exams, portfolio assessments, and distance learning courses.
To increase my marketability and widen my own horizons, I became a basic life support instructor last February. I also became a Reiki practitioner. I work as a parish nurse in our church, and I've attended many conferences on this topic. I became certified by the ANCC in general nursing practice in 1997. I feel that the more I can offer my clients, the better preventive and supportive care I can give.
Here are several important things to keep in mind when making a career change and going into business:
Always work within your scope of practice and state nurse practice act. Make sure you have your own malpractice insurance.
If fee-for-service is provided, follow all the legal guidelines.
Remember, you are a professional and many can benefit from your knowledge and skills.
Volunteer work allows you to meet more people and add to your expertise. Volunteering as a parish nurse at my church has given me the chance to provide health information to members of our congregation. I held a mini-health fair, had a program for teens dealing with issues they are facing, had a counselor discuss domestic violence, held a healthy eating program called "Weight and See," and covered safety issues during vacation bible school.
Have business cards ready to hand out when networking and always send a thank you note to anyone who helps you.
Keep up your CEUs and always be willing to broaden your knowledge base.
Join professional organizations and associations - there's strength in numbers.
Get certified in your area of nursing practice.
Document what you're doing and get references.
Be proud of your profession and believe in yourself.
The healthcare needs of society and how they are met are changing quickly and will continue to change well into the next millennium. Nursing provides many ways to help make the changes positive and productive. This next quarter century will find me in a far different arena than my first!
Corrine Latini, RNC, works part-time as a dental assistant and volunteers as a parish nurse. Neighborhood Nurse is a part-time endeavor.