The entrepreneurial nurse

Global healthcare is facing huge challenges, and entrepreneurial nurses are part of the solutions.

By Gunn-Berit Neergård, PhD Candidate, Engage

Global healthcare needs continuous quality improvement, increased efficiency and enhanced safety for patients and employees. Entrepreneurial nurses may create useful and applicable solutions to these challenges. By exploring new ideas, nurses may create value for society, saving lives while they’re at it.

The challenges of healthcare

Healthcare is a pressing example of an industry in need of positive change. Healthcare systems worldwide struggle to keep up with higher demands for efficient and high-quality care. The number of patients rises with the demographic trends of an ageing population in many countries, meanwhile the force of labour decreases (Crisp & Chen, 2014; World Health Organization, 2010). Preferred treatments are costly, and the allocation of money to healthcare does not keep up with the development of medical investigations, treatments and medicines. Challenges are on the rise, such as antibiotics resistance and global pandemics. Covid-19 has shown us the realities of current and future healthcare challenges globally. We are all connected, patients and caregivers around the globe.

Nurses creating healthcare changes

Nurses are the largest group of health professionals worldwide. They have a unique position in healthcare, carrying out the treatment of patients in both primary, secondary and tertiary care. They know the systems of healthcare, the needs of the patients and their relatives, as well as the pressing issues and future visions of their profession. This knowledge is important when tackling the present challenges and picturing the ideal future of healthcare. Thus, nurses are encouraged to participate in entrepreneurial processes, shaping our future healthcare in their image.

The combination of entrepreneurship and nursing may be considered both new and controversial, and some empirical articles present negative associations to healthcare entrepreneurs

Gunn-Berit Neergård, PhD Candidate, Engage

Controversial roles?

The combination of entrepreneurship and nursing may be considered both new and controversial, and some empirical articles present negative associations to healthcare entrepreneurs. Some healthcare personnel perceive a clash of values between the worlds of business and caring. As a result, nurses often distance themselves from their entrepreneurial identity (Fletcher, 2010; Nadin, 2007; Wilson, 2003). However, there is no need for nurses to experience their entrepreneurial behaviour as controversial, as nurses have been acting entrepreneurially for as long as the profession has existed. Nurses have created health institutions and educational programs since the 19th century, and according to Richardson (1996) and Whelan (2012), self-employment was the norm in the late 19th to early 20th century. Since then, nurses have created new treatment practices, clinics, products, courses and public health functions (Hughes, 2006). Even the profession of nursing itself could be seen as an entrepreneurial creation signed Florence Nightingale, the lady with the lamp, who created nursing procedures, spread best practice to hospitals and started the first nursing school (Nightingale, 1859).

Uncontroversial and important

From this short introduction to nurse entrepreneurship, I hope you will gain two main takeaways.
First, nurses can become brilliant entrepreneurs, using their unique knowledge and experience to improve healthcare and solve pressing challenges. Second, entrepreneurial nursing is not controversial. Acting entrepreneurial is a natural part of nursing, as it focuses on recognizing challenges and needs, solving these issues with new products, procedures or services, thus creating new value for patients, caregivers and society as a whole.

Did you know…
At Engage, we create training modules for healthcare educators as well as researching how nurses become entrepreneurial. Click here if you are interested in having a look at the training-modules. Interested in our research about nurses becoming entrepreneurial? You’ll find the articles and phd projects here. Furthermore, do not hesitate to contact us about this topic.