December 14th, 2011
By Jennifer Olin, BSN, RN
Talking with Anna Morrison is sort of like getting caught in a nursing whirlwind of ideas, inspiration and enthusiasm…and then she takes a breath and it all starts again. Morrison is a great example of using what you know mixed with your natural abilities to find your spot in the global marketplace. She's not the only one, but she wants a lot more company as an (wait for it)—EntrepreNurse.
"It would make me very happy to introduce the EntrepreNurse idea to as many nurses and budding nurses as possible. I truly envision a world where to be a nurse is a far more fluid definition than what it currently is. For to me, to nurse is to care for, to serve, to enrich, and to enhance another's life. This type of work can be accomplished in so many ways! Too often, I see nurses who got into the profession really wanting to make a difference, who are now bitter and unhappy because of the current conditions in which many nurses must work. This breaks my heart, because it doesn't have to be like this! And, you know, they don't even realize there is another way. They don't even know what their options are. We are trained to think so linearly…CNA->LPN->ADN->BSN->MSN->etc…. We don't realize that we are FREE to step off the treadmill if we want to and to create a whole new existence for ourselves as nurses, to redefine the profession, ourselves, and reinvent our experience, as it were."
The above was taken from a Facebook exchange with Morrison. And yes folks, she writes just like she talks. She is a champion for nurses everywhere, believing that the best is yet to come and nursing can still be so much more.
How did you get started on this road to nurse entrepreneur?
"My first degree was in creative writing and when I graduated I couldn't make a dollar. I couldn't pay my heating bill in Chicago in winter. I thought, 'Crap,' I gotta go get a job. I moved back to south Florida and got a job bartending. It was like striking gold, $200-300 a night in tips. But it was rough, a real dive bar. It was great but I was still trying to keep my head above water. I said, 'I gotta go get a real job.' So, I had some savings and I opened my own company selling high end road bikes. What I really wanted was to make a difference. So I thought, go to med school or go to nursing school. I chose nursing school because I liked that it wasn't about the diagnosis; it was about the whole person."
You finished school and I presume you went to work in a hospital as most of us do. What happened then?
"I spent the first six months of my internship pissing everyone off. I kept writing proposals to make things better, to make improvements. You know how people love that. I did love my job, loved my patients might be more to the point."
Ok, we'll leave it at you became disenchanted and visualized a world of more. How does this idea of nurse entrepreneurship apply to nursing students and new nurse?
"As a new nurse, ask, 'What can I do to make a change? What are the pain points? What's most challenging? What would make my life better?' Brainstorm. For example, just off the top of my head: How about, mobile applications are a huge area of growth. Marry the two. What sucks about being a nursing student and what app could make that better? Retirees are back at work. They had the party, ate the cake and then they come back. Their husbands have been laid off or cut back to part time and they had to come back. It is excellent to have the experience on board. What if there was a way to create a mentor/student app. Old nurses stuck working; new nurses can't get a job. Technology is at the forefront today—a mentor/student app could be ideal. You have to start looking at things in a new way. "
Do you see yourself as a coach, a motivational speaker? Where does nursing come in?
" I want to inspire an array of nurses who want to think in a new way, let's work together to solve problems. We have all the responsibility in the world but little power. I want to shift that paradigm, change the world and help nurses make some money. Reengage, not disengage to make the career better.
"I'm not recommending a mass exodus from nursing. In other industries if someone comes up with an idea for how to save a hundred-thousand dollars they can take that idea to a management team somewhere and sell them the idea. That's not so common in healthcare. I would like see nursing ideas licensed and put to work in our own hospitals. RNs are at the epicenter of healthcare and have the creativity."
You can promote all you want but how do you get management to buy in?
"If management was smart they would quit throwing ice cream socials, would quit wasting money on stuff we don't care about. Take it upon yourselves to say, listen, why don't we have a contest, unit wide, hospital wide, system wide? I mean, who doesn't love a contest? Set that ice cream social money aside for the smartest innovation to patient care: Improve patient care, improve patient satisfaction, reduce waste, save money. Really engage people. Invite participation.
"We are the hands that deliver."
Where do you see this all heading?
" I am nursing the spirit of other nurses. Nursing and healthcare could human-up a little. It's not all the white coat. Better inject some humanity—relating to people would make for far better standing as a business.
"All the hospitals have patient satisfaction scores but they never have nursing satisfaction scores. I am really excited about the potential in nurses out there in the world. I want to open up a conversation. I love entrepreneurship and I want to make it more mainstream. "
Morrison recently published an e-book available on Amazon.com entitled 5 Things They Never Told You in Nursing School. She released the book on December 11th at 7am EST on Amazon.com. Less than 11 hours later, her book became an Amazon #1 Bestseller. She does practice what she preaches.