This Nurses Month, we want to acknowledge the incredible work our clinicians do both inside and outside of healthcare settings. Our nurses are so much more than just nurses: they are parents, small business owners, volunteers, and essential members of their communities. Here are a few Premier RNs who shared with us glimpses into their lives beyond the scrubs.
Steven K., Med/Surg RN
Job outside of nursing: Owner of Bottle Theory, a craft beer taproom.
What gave you the idea to open your own business?
I worked doubles at a restaurant to pay for nursing school. I’d been talking with one of my best friends about doing our own thing someday. It didn’t seem like it would ever actually happen, since conversations and daydreaming about a project often are satisfying enough to never actually go through the process of doing it. As I started nursing, my friend stayed in the restaurant industry forming relationships along the way; these would prove to be critical pieces down the road. A few years later, right in in the middle of COVID, he circled back with me about taking our service experience into the craft beer world. It was blowing up and Chicago had just been crowned craft beer capital of the U.S.
So, why craft beer? There aren’t many things that offer an unreal, world-class experience for $7. Craft beer does. It’s a low barrier to entry and high invitation, which is the magical combination many businesses strive toward. The flavors that brewers can pull out of simple ingredients, the constant innovation and the intoxicating artwork on the cans make it a full sensory experience. The beers are so good these days that very little needs to be spent on marketing, which makes the financials much less complicated. And, besides, who doesn’t want to hang out with friends in an exciting place with cool stuff to try? We built exactly the place we’d want to spend time at.
How do you balance your career as a nurse with running your small business?
I used to work nights, but since the business was opening very soon, I switched to days so that I could give the other 4 days a week my full attention to the shop. If I’d stayed on nights, it would’ve dragged the opening out even further, as the global supply chain issues were still a daily challenge at the time; we couldn’t afford any avoidable delays. No days off is a real thing, but to have what you want, you have to do what you haven’t been willing to do.
Having an encouraging wife is crucial. She understood the vision, its importance, and the projections. She would’ve trusted me to invest anyways, but those pieces made it much easier for her to come alongside and have an abiding interest in the business.
What advice would you give to a nurse who is looking to invest more time into their passions outside of healthcare?
You just have to do it. The only secret sauce is you have to be disturbed. Totally irritated by the space between where you are and where you wish you were. That will provide you with an unshakeable, confident answer to “what’s your ‘why?’ If you figure that out, the how and when will follow. Think about all of the people who’ve immigrated over the last couple centuries to the U.S. and turned determination and effort into family-sustaining income. Often with little to no money, little to no relationships, little to no understanding of the culture or the language. And likely a ton of resistance to push through. There’s no reason why someone like me, a formally educated person with established relationships in a country where I speak the primary language, maintains excuses for why I can’t start a business. Obviously, building relationships both organically and strategically matters. The saying “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know” is largely true. Sure, you need to know something to inform your plan, but you can’t know everything, so bringing people along who have experiences, skills, and knowledge that you don’t is not just more efficient, it’s a realistic aspect of getting a business off the ground. If nothing else, it makes the faults and mistakes along the way much softer individually and much richer interpersonally. This whole project from inception to opening and what sustains every day forward has been fueled by the desire to be in community, have a fun experience and celebrate relationships.
Jennifer N., LTAC RN
Job outside of nursing: Doula.
What inspired you to become a doula?
That’s really multifactorial. I’ve transitioned to a much more holistic mindset during my 15 plus years in nursing, and I have always been very passionate about patient advocacy, I actually became a board-certified patient advocate and built a business of which the foundation is firmly planted on advocacy and patient rights. As a mom of six and more recently, a grandmother, I have had the experience of being a patient on the maternity side of medicine and witnessed many other women in their childbirth journeys as well, and I recognized patterns and mindsets that I felt were a disservice to birthing mothers. The perception that pregnancy and childbirth are a medical diagnosis and not a life process bothers me. I recognized the increased use of interventions to suit schedules and made-up guidelines, all too often leading to further interventions and even complications. Lack of informed consent was another biggie. Being aware of the need for support, I decided to obtain Doula certification. I feel that as a nurse and a doula, I can be an informed, compassionate companion to support women in making decisions. Studies show that having a doula present during labor helps to promote patient autonomy and decreases the chances of medical interventions, which I find incredibly important. Doulas provide support, information, and emotional care throughout the entire process and empower women in their birthing journey.
How do you balance your career as an RN with working as a doula?
I think that most RNs are great multitaskers! I only take a maximum of two women at the time that have a due date in the same month, this keeps me available for deliveries and to offer adequate prenatal and postpartum support while maintaining a bedside presence as an RN. I also offer virtual holistic prenatal support which can be scheduled around everything else going on. Funny enough, I actually connected with a doula client while working a contract, one of the physicians I was working with hired me to support him and his wife during their delivery! You just never know!
What advice would you give to a nurse who is looking to invest more time into their passions?
Give your passions priority! Especially if that passion is centered around service… there is no greater fulfillment, in my opinion, than enriching and being a blessing in another’s life.
Thomas P., Med/Surg RN
Hobby outside of nursing: Building a “Lego City” with his daughter.
What inspired you to start this hobby with your daughter?
It began years ago as a Father’s Day gift but didn’t really take off until my daughter started to show interest because she saw a Lego city at a local toy store. Since, we go to Lego stores everywhere we go. She really enjoys the mini figures. She likes to trade, which works on her interpersonal communication and negotiating skills.
What is the most rewarding part about the process of building the Lego city?
The most rewarding part is the quality time I get to spend with my daughter. No electronics while we build except for music. It keeps her off of her phone, iPad, and TV. In addition, seeing her mind work as we plan the city layout and details of it all.
What advice would you give to a nurse who is looking to invest more time into their passions or families?
Just like your career: Do what you love. Take the time to spend it how you want with family, friends, or a great hobby. Have fun with it.