What does an RN consultant do?
I am often asked what an RN consultants does. This post is a brief overview. Nurses are smart cookies and are able to come up with many new ideas for consulting.
RN consultants provide a service.
An RN consultant provides a specific professional service, uses their own tools, schedules their own time, and develops their own policies and procedures for how the work is to be done. In tax terms, the consultant is an independent contractor. A consultant does many jobs including teaching, training, and coaching. I will cover legal nurse consulting in a separate post.
Consultants look for problems.
An RN consultant looks for a potential customer (healthcare facility, another nurse, patients, or the general public) with a problem they are unable to solve. The consultant identifies the problem, finds the cause (does a root cause analysis), and develops a solution.
RN consultants teach.
For example, a healthcare facility’s goal is to have all their nurses certified in their specialties and only 15% of the nurses are certified. They know nurses can learn the material and take the exams successfully. However, they do not have nurses on staff who can teach the certification reviews. It’s not financially feasible to have a full-time employee for each certification review class. Therefore, they hire a consultant who already has designed the class (the solution). The consultant is brought to the facility to teach the nurses.
RN consultants help facilities pass inspections.
Another example would be when the facility has an upcoming inspection to see if the facility meets certain regulatory guidelines. An outside consultant with knowledge of the inspection process is hired to inspect the facility, identify any problems, and provide remedies prior to the inspection.
RN consultants provide continuing education.
A third example would be that specific continuing education is not available in an area and the local nurses want or need that education. The solution would be to bring the education to the nurse in that local area. The consultant could go to the local area and give a seminar. Other solutions might include making audio CDs, DVDs, or writing a book and selling them to the local nurses. Another option might be offering the education online.
Another example along similar lines would be a business that needs someone to teach classes to meet health department guidelines. In today’s heavily regulated economy, the list of individuals and businesses with problems meeting guidelines is endless.
RN consulting has low startup costs.
The startup cost for an RN consulting service is relatively low if you use a home office and equipment (computer, printer, etc.) that you already have. If you practice as a consultant under your RN license, you don’t need to start a sole proprietorship, limited liability company (LLC), or a corporation. You are already licensed to consult on nursing issues as of part your state’s nurse practice act.
The Nurse Service Organization offers a rider to its malpractice insurance that covers educators and trainers. When your income increases and you need additional tax deductions, you can incorporate, get the same tax deductions as Bill Gates, and eliminate your personal liability. I like that.
No formal education degrees required for RN consulting.
No educational or certification requirements exist for nurse consultants. The customer who hires the consultant may require a BSN, MSN, or other formal nursing degree. You RN license is all that is needed in most cases.
RN consultants income varies.
The earnings of a nurse consultant are dependent on the number of billable hours worked. Typical income is around $125,000 annually with an hourly rate range for billable hours from $100.00 to $250.00. The actual take home pay (money in your pocket) may be the same as staff nurses. The expense of operating a consulting service (taxes, insurance, office space, supplies, and equipment, etc.) decreases the income significantly. Some nurses consider the additional work (non-billable hours) involved a definite disadvantage. For me, the benefit of planning my work to match my lifestyle far outweighs any disadvantages.
Future looks good for RN consultants.
The future for the nurse consultant looks good. Nurse consultants have proven their worth in the industry. Nurses should take a look at consulting. Consider starting part time and move to full time when the time is right (or your job is lost). Many nurses are not psychologically in tune with retirement (or have the finances to retire). RN consulting is a good destination.