Like many nurses, Irnise Williams decided to leave the field during the pandemic. She now runs her own law firm where she helps nurses all over the country start their own businesses. The health and wellness industry is booming, and Williams says now is the time for nurses to get business for themselves.
A Fresh Start
Williams was working as a registered nurse in New York when the coronavirus first hit the U.S. She said she received minimal staffing and mental health support from employer, which led her to quit the field after 13 years in the industry.
Luckily, she had a law degree from Howard University to fall back on. She realized her background as an attorney put her in a unique position to help her fellow nurses.
“Five hundred thousand nurses are supposed to be leaving in the next year, and people are saying, ‘What they’re gonna do?'” Williams said. “They’re gonna take the skills that they were using and not making any money for, to actually make money and have a schedule that is beneficial to their life.”
She says nurses can put their skills to work in all sorts of ways. They know how to work around people, form relationships, and ultimately better the people around them.
Williams ultimately turned her medical malpractice firm, which she founded in 2017, into a legal organization that offers personalized training to nurses looking to make a fresh start.
The pandemic helped Williams put her life into perspective. “I was like, ‘I could die tomorrow, so maybe I should go out and do what it is that I said that I wanted to do.'”
Her firm offers a range of services to help nurses get their ideas off the ground, including information on navigating the paperwork and applications process and making sure their businesses comply with the latest state, local and federal regulations.
She even offers online classes to nurses, nurse practitioners, and midwives looking to make the transition from bedside care to entrepreneur.
“There are very few who are out here supporting nurses or educating, empowering nurses to leave the bedside,” she said.
At a time when many nurses are facing increasing threats of violence, staffing issues, burnout, and emotional exhaustion, Williams is showing providers a way out. For many, the current crisis is just unsustainable.
“You’re not really taking care of patients, you’re just surviving for 12 hours and stabilizing,” she said. “I really want to care for my patients, and you can’t do that in the crisis that we’re in now.”
She says many nurses tell her that they don’t know how to start a business and that all they know is how to be an employee. But there are lots of ways for nurses to put their skills to good use.
According to the American Medical Association, around half of physicians own private practices. But that’s not the case for nurses. There are few statistics on how many nurses and nurse practitioners own their own private practice.
But Williams says there are all kinds of opportunities to be had in the emerging wellness industry. She’s seen a rapid increase in the number of nurses starting healthcare technology firms, medical spas, and IV hydration clinics.
The global health and wellness market is expected to hit $7.6 billion by 2030, according to Precedence Research.
Williams wants to remind nurses that they’re not abandoning their patients or the industry all together, they are simply finding a better way to utilize their skills.
“There are so many ways that we can serve our community outside of the hospital that are just as impactful, just as beneficial, and just as powerful,” she said.