Year after year, nurses remain America’s most trusted professionals. And, for the past two years, healthcare workers have been hailed as the country’s “frontline heroes.” But these accolades have come at a high cost: the work is physically, emotionally, and financially taxing, intensely so during the COVID-19 pandemic.
So, as we begin National Nurses Week, what’s changing? National recognition of how important our jobs are is wonderful. It feels good to know we’re not just wanted, but needed. But now, more than ever, America’s nurses need more than just applause and a holiday. They need action.
I started CareRev because I felt frequently unheard and unsupported in my work as a trauma ICU nurse in San Diego. I regularly had to take on more patients than I could reasonably handle. Other times, my shifts would get canceled at the last minute, leaving me short on cash with bills to pay. I’d hit a wall and burn out, then bounce to another hospital hoping things would improve. That cycle repeated itself year after year. It wasn’t until I started working for myself – independent, making my own schedule – that I finally found the fulfillment I was looking for in my nursing career.
We seem to have lost sight of this entrepreneurial side of nursing. In the days of Florence Nightingale – the venerated nurse whose birthday gave rise to National Nurses Week – most nurses worked for themselves. They were private duty nurses who secured their own employment and relied on their own resourcefulness to seek out work. Studies of the nurse labor market from this period of time show private duty nurses made up approximately 80% of practicing nurses. Many belonged to registries that served as major connecting points between these “nurse entrepreneurs” and employment opportunities with private individuals and healthcare facilities looking to fill open positions.
Over time, these registries became institutionalized as centralized agencies, and nurse entrepreneurship slowly dissipated. But the opportunities for nurse entrepreneurship certainly haven’t disappeared. In fact, they’re more prevalent today than ever before.
That’s why, on May 19th, I’ll be packing up my van and hitting the road for a month-long listening tour. I’ll be traveling from Los Angeles to Seattle, then out to Milwaukee and Chicago before heading down to Fort Lauderdale, stopping at cities and towns in between. At every stop, my team and I will be hosting events to meet local nurses, certified nursing assistants, and technicians. We’ll be celebrating them, sure – but more importantly, we’ll be actively listening to and documenting their stories and experiences, getting a direct understanding of how we can shape our platform to better serve their personal and professional needs, goals, and values.
I hope you’ll join us. I can’t wait to meet you.