The need for master’s degree qualified nurse practitioners continues to grow in Australia due to the requirements of regional & rural areas, increasing demand on GP’s due to an increasing and aging population as well as increase in awareness in the community about health & wellbeing
The implication of this in terms of the ‘traditional’ career progression and job opportunities for nurses is profound, as it allows master’s degree qualified nurse practitioners to join the ‘start-up’ revolution that is sweeping the nation by storm, creating their own business that will flourish in the provision of must-needed service – much like any start-up might experience in the tech world.
No different to most start-up businesses, a nurse practitioner is creating ‘disruption’ to a system that is in dire need of change. By providing services such as to initiate diagnostic investigations, prescribe medications and make referrals, the NPs work at an advanced practice level that demands:
- Expert clinical knowledge
- Advanced specialised education
- Complex decision-making skills
- Clinical reasoning and diagnostic skills
- Ability to initiate and evaluate therapeutic management plans
What is critical to note is that although each and every one of these skills - as well as the comprehensive scope of work and ongoing professional development, masters qualification and standards of higher care -provide the nurse practitioners and patients with significant benefits, one element that is ‘outside scope’ is that of entrepreneurship & business management.
In Australia, it has been estimated that almost 97 per cent of start-ups will either exit or fail to grow, and one in three small businesses will fail in their first year. So regardless of if you are a mobile phone app developer, a café or a masters qualified nurse practitioner, the odds are stacked against you – or are they?
When it comes to a start-up and a small business, the only fundamental differences are firstly the mindset – start-ups are expecting to fail, fail fast, then iterate based on what they have learned – and the way they raise their money – start-ups are usually well backed through investors or venture capitalists, rather than a bank loan or small business loan.
Just because you are setting up a nurse practitioner service, it doesn’t mean you are a start-up, but this could be based on what business model you may be using.
Why small businesses fail
It is no secret that small business fail as they are spending too much time working ‘in’ their business, rather than ‘on’ their business. Or in other words, the café owner may be working too much on the coffee machine, rather than on marketing & accounting to bring in business and count the money correctly.
As a masters qualified nurse practitioner, you would not expect a marketing expert to take their own blood, or an accountant to write a specialist refe
rral after a consult – nor should you expect yourself as an expert in the nursing field to be able to run a small business on your own.
As a Masters qualified Nurse Practitioner, if you see the opportunity to go out on your own, you have found a geographic area that you ‘think’ will need services, you have to want to make it work, this is the first step. Now, you need a plan.
Another key reason small businesses and start-ups fail is because they don’t have a plan or benchmarks for performance. Just like testing a patient’s blood pressure, your business needs benchmarks of success.
If you are seriously planning to become an entrepreneur in the nurse practitioner space, here is a key checklist to get things started.
Nurse Practitioners Entrepreneur Checklist
- Do I want to go into business for myself?
- Do I want a business partner?
- Do I know a location I need?
- What are the costs of setting up a clinic for day 1?
- What are the ongoing monthly costs of running a clinic?
Now, comes the time when you get experts involved
- Get a business plan
- Ensure they do research on your local area, demographics etc
- Get an accountant
- Set up the systems to support your growth – back-end systems such as accounting, patient management and marketing systems
- Arrange your marketing and communications
- Ensure you have goals/objectives in place to benchmark your financial & non-financial performance
- Employ an office manager to manage your day-to-day, while you do what you do best
- Have monthly review meetings with your marketing & accounting consultants
Remember, do what you do best – let contractors do the rest, have a plan and stick to it. Like a check-up, ensure your business has benchmarks of health so you can stay in business. There is a freedom in both life and financial terms when you run your own, successful business, as a registered masters qualified nurse practitioner this may have never crossed your mind.
Speak with the Australian College of Nurse Practitioners today if you have any questions on how to make this dream, a reality, and start providing much-needed services to your community today.
To find out more about becoming a masters qualified nurse practitioner or for useful information regarding this thriving sector visit www.acnp.org.au.