Nurse Entrepreneurship: A Solution to Colorado’s Nursing Shortage and Healthcare Challenges
Exploring the role of nurse entrepreneurs in alleviating colorado's nursing shortage and transforming healthcare in 2023.
As the population ages, two major changes are happening simultaneously in the United States: The number of patients needing care and the number of nurses retiring from the profession are both growing. Additionally, many nurses leave the profession due to stress, and enrollments are not keeping pace with demand. This is causing some big problems for Colorado’s healthcare system, including an alarming nursing shortage.
Although the state needs 33,000 nursing graduates per year to meet demand, some years have only seen 24,000 nursing students graduate, creating a major shortfall of new talent. To ensure that patients can get the quality care they deserve while also helping to reduce stress on existing nursing staff, getting more nurses to graduate and enter the workforce in Colorado is critical.
One important way to help address this problem is with nurse entrepreneurship. Advanced practice nurses, such as nurse practitioners, can start their own practices and provide a range of health services with autonomy in Colorado.
Here’s why these businesses can help with the nursing shortage in the short and long term.
The role of independent nursing practices
Nurse practitioners have a lot of freedom to practice independently in Colorado, once they meet the requirements. NPs can diagnose and treat patients, and even prescribe medication once they’ve had enough hours under supervision and collaboration with a physician.
While many nurse practitioners choose to work at medical groups or hospitals, others start their own independent practices. This is helping to ease the nursing shortage that is making it more difficult for patients in Colorado to access care.
With nurse practitioners able to diagnose, treat and prescribe, many patients can take care of their routine health needs at an independent nursing practice. This helps to reduce the number of patients in hospitals and decreases wait times for patients who need to see their primary care physician. Nurse practitioners offer patient-centered care, which can be more appealing for many patients who want a personalized healthcare experience.
Providing preventative care & telehealth services
One key way that nurse entrepreneurs can help with the nursing shortage is to provide more preventative services in their practices. When people are more proactive with their health, they are less likely to need invasive treatments and other hospital procedures requiring inpatient care. This reduces the number of patients in the hospital and eases the workload for existing nurses who are already stretched thin.
Telehealth is another great option that nursing practices can offer patients. It allows people who live in rural areas or do not have access to transportation to access preventative care and basic health advice without needing an appointment in person. Telehealth services make life easier for patients and providers alike.
Other types of nursing businesses
The field of nursing is expanding, and there are lots of opportunities for nurses who want to make a difference in healthcare. Nurse entrepreneurs in Colorado who don’t want to open an independent practice can start businesses that provide services like travel nurse staffing or nursing informatics.
These kinds of businesses help with staffing issues and can help make hospitals more efficient overall. They also provide more career choices for nursing students and might even encourage more young people to join the profession by offering different options for students with a range of talents and interests.
Encouraging and inspiring the next generation of nurses
Starting an independent nursing practice is also a great way to encourage and inspire the next generation of nurses. Long-term, solving the nursing shortage will require increasing the enrollment levels at state nursing programs and improving working conditions for nurses who are already in the field.
Encouraging the next generation of nurses in Colorado needs to start right now. As our nursing workforce continues to retire and patient numbers rise, the situation for nurses who are in the field now is only going to get worse.
Nurse entrepreneurs create new job opportunities and show how it’s possible to practice independently as a nurse in Colorado. That example of success might just lead to more young people pursuing this challenging, yet rewarding career path.
Andrew Deen has been a consultant for startups in a number of industries from retail to medical devices and everything in between. He implements lean methodology and is currently writing a book about scaling up business.