Interview with Michelle Podlesni, RN, President of NNBA
July 30, 2014
Let’s be honest for a second: being a nurse is NOT easy. Your colleagues are difficult, your patients are understandably grumpy, and if you’re like the rest of us, you put incredible pressure on yourself to always perform at an unreasonably high level.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if there was someone who could help you achieve your goals? Someone who’s been there, understands what you’re going through, and can help you meet your full potential?
There IS such a person like that, and her name is Michelle Podlesni.
Ready to be inspired? Check out Michelle’s resume:
Michelle is a USN Veteran, and has been an RN for over 25 years. She’s been a corporate executive, where she’s worked with medical software development and various start-ups. She’s written her own book, UNconventional Nurse: Going from Burnout to Bliss! She has her own website, UNconventionalNurse.com, where she offers coaching and mentoring. And she is currently the President of the National Nurses in Business Association (NNBA), which is the leading association for “self-employed nurses and nurses in business to support, interact, exchange ideas, educate and empower.”
If you wanted to sum all that up into a single name, it would be “Superwoman.”
So what makes her tick? How does she handle so much responsibility? And what can she teach us about being nurses, businesspeople, and responsible entrepreneurs?
Michelle was graceful enough to chat with us, and we’re THRILLED have her on board!
Q: Thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedule to talk with us! Can you tell us a little about your own background, and why you decided to become a nurse?
A: I have always been very service-driven and knew early on that I wanted to become a nurse. (I have a picture with me in a nurse’s cap at 5 years old!). I volunteered as a candy striper at our local hospital and then went to Hospital Corps School and served 4 years in the Navy. Afterwards, the GI Bill helped finance my nursing education. The reasons I decided to become a nurse were simple: I wanted help people feel better and I wanted to make a difference every day.
Q: Can you tell us about the challenges of being a nurse? What are some of the benefits?
A: There are many challenges in being a nurse. Maintaining physical and mental resilience is a challenging when dealing with patients and administration. Compassion fatigue can set it unless you have a good life/work balance. There is the ever increasing challenge of keeping up with technology both in patient care and documenting patient care. The benefits of nursing are numerous. There is the personal fulfillment and satisfaction of knowing you are helping patients recover to their highest level possible. A knowing at the end of each shift you have truly made a difference in people’s lives; your patients, their family members, your colleagues that you work with each day. However I believe the biggest benefit in being a nurse are the unlimited opportunities available to use your license whether it is in a traditional or entrepreneurial setting. Nursing education is a truly a launch pad to wherever your dreams can take you!
Q: What is your proudest moment as a nurse?
A: Honestly there are so many that it would be difficult to single out one. I have transitioned my nursing career many times in the last 25 years and at each transition there have been occasions that made me proud that I chose nursing as a career. In the hospital setting I would have to say being chosen by my peers to handle some of the most difficult and disagreeable patients because I could somehow get them to cooperate with the team that was trying to help them. In my role now as the president of the National Nurses in Business Association, I am proud to be a member of an awesome community of nurses that have taken their knowledge and experience to create businesses that impact so many people’s lives for the better.
Q: What is your *strangest* moment as a nurse? Some of our nurses have told us some pretty crazy stories!
A: I was working the night shift and couldn’t find my patients when I went on one of my routine rounds. Each room turned up empty and then I heard this giggling and saw that several of the patients had gone into one corner of the waiting room and had their chairs in a circle. Someone sneaked in some toasting liquid so they could celebrate the New Year! There are always some shenanigans on the holidays in the hospital!
Q: Many of our readers have expressed concerns about being overwhelmed when beginning a career in the medical field. Do you have any advice for them?
A: Breathe! Take your time and use the multitude of resources available for help. Find a nurse friend that is supportive and look for nurse mentors. I wrote the book Unconventional Nurse: Going from Burnout to Bliss where I outline 10 steps nurses can take to advance or reinvent their careers. I wish I had known these steps to success before I started my nursing career.
Q: Do you have any favorite websites related to nursing?
Q: Do you have any advice for the www.CNACareerAgency.com readers who are interested in becoming nurses?
A: The same answer in the overwhelm question above. Only that I would add that there are very few people that ever regret becoming a nurse. A nurse education serves you in all areas and stages of your life.
Q: So, why do nurses make great business owners?
A: Nurses are great problem solvers and as a business owner you have to wear 10 hats and nurses do that all in one shift! Nurses are great at prioritizing and strategic thinking. They are professional and have great people skills. Nurses are committed to continued education and they are responsible and reliable. I could go on and on about how nurses make great business owners.
Q: You must have worked with some pretty interesting people. What are some of the creative ways that nurses have developed businesses?
A: Nurses are great ‘experts’ and have become consultants, advisors, case managers and educators but take each one of those and realize there are hundreds of niches in business where nurses can share their expertise. Such as a hospice nurse that created a business providing services during grieving. I’m talking from catering to making arrangements. She saw a need and went about creating services to fill them. Another nurse created a pet therapy business in addition to speaking around the country on Palliative Care. There are nurses that are teaching business practice development for nurse practitioners. There are nurses teaching critical care certification review courses. There are nurses that are stand-up comics and radio hosts. There is a nurse here in California that is the subject matter expert for a medical show on TV and she reviews each script before they film the show.
Q: Many new nurses feel very overwhelmed as they start their careers. When is the best time for a nurse to branch out into an entrepreneurial venture?
A: That is an individual matter. Everyone is different on how much they can handle. Many nurses enjoy juggling several balls in the air. The best time for a nurse to branch out to be an entrepreneur is when he or she feels the desire to. Passion will sustain an entrepreneur through tough times and every career has its tough days!
Q: Your site, UnconventionalNurse.com, has an excellent blog, where you discuss all areas related to nursing and entrepreneurial ventures. How important is an internet presence to a nurse who is starting a new business?
A: You must have a website if you plan to have a business today. I am fortunate because my background of running a software company allowed me to get to know and work with many talented programmers. I have a great web services team that is very creative and yet practical. At the very least, nurse business owners need to have a basic website that includes:
- Home page
- About You page
- Contact page
- Blogging page
- Google Analytics
I would be happy to refer nurses to our web service team if they would have website questions.
Q: You also discuss the issue of “nurse burn out.” That’s a big problem for employees in the medical field. What guidance can you give to our nurses who are just getting started in their careers, and might be most susceptible to burn out?
A: Biggest piece of advice I would give new nurses is to ask for help. The best nurses have a desire to help other nurses be their best. We all started somewhere with very little experience. Value yourself at every stage of your career because we all were where you are now.
Q: You offer coaching and mentoring. Can you tell us some of the benefits of coaching and mentoring, and how nurses can get in touch with your if they’re interested?
A: I have been coaching managers and executives for years and it is only since 2010 that I have focused on helping nurses succeed in business. I also have coaches in my life, usually a couple a year that I work with to take my business to the next level. Some of the benefits of coaching are clarity, strategic planning, increased sales and accountability. Very often we are too close to a situation to view it in the proper perspective. I work with nurses to understand the ‘market feasibility’ of what business they want to create. Business is only a business if it is making money so I put them through the questions that will determine if there is enough of a market share to allow them to achieve the income they desire. Nursing education does not cover business training so I cover that gap with my business coaching.
Q: Thank you again for being here. If any of our readers want to follow up with you, how could they get in touch with you?