How My Job as an Educator Led to My Own Business

Beth Hawkes, MSN, RN-BC is an educator at San Joaquin Hospital in Bakersfield, CA as well as a blogger and writer. 

I love being a nurse and I love being a nurse educator.

I chose Staff Development as a career path because I saw being a clinical educator as a way to influence nursing practice.


What excites me is researching best practice and raising the standards of practice in the areas I serve as Med Surg Educator.


For example, our hospital is growing an oncology service line and that means an enormous amount of education for nurses and nursing staff in the Med Surg units. That led to me joining the Oncology Nurses Society (ONS). ONS has very good resources for its members.


The first thing I noticed when rounding on the Med Surg floors was nursing assistants donning yellow gowns when entering rooms of chemo patients. By contrast, the RNs administering chemo were wearing chemo-approved blue gowns.  I asked a couple of young, female nursing assistants why they were wearing yellow (isolation) gowns. They explained that the blue gowns were only available in a cumbersome "Chemo Administration Kit" which bundled supplies for the administering nurse, and included syringes, and medication biohazard bags. Therefore they reasoned it would be wasteful and expensive to use the protective blue gowns.

Hawkes - magnet.jpg

Within a short time, I met with Materials Management and had single packaged blue gowns ordered and stocked. I met with Print Shop and developed a Chemo Precautions magnetized signage for the patient doors. I researched how long protective gear should be worn (generally 48 hours) and under what conditions. 

I then went on a scavenger hunt to track down the Chemo Spill Kits which were hidden in various places on each unit (in a cupboard, under a manager's desk) and had them wall mounted in plexiglass in each utility room.


Hawkes - nursing gown.jpg

One day I cut a yellow isolation gown in half lengthwise down the front. I did the same with a blue chemo gown. I sewed them together, one half yellow, one half blue, and wore my fashion-forward gown all day in the hospital to educate nursing staff on proper chemo protection.






Blogging and Blogging Ideas

I also love writing, and a little over a year ago, I started a nursing blog.  One of my early posts was about the sacred cows of nursing practice, such as reverse isolation, and efficacy of Trendelenburg.


One of my roles as Educator is to serve as a debriefer for each cohort of new grad nurses (residents). In debriefing 8-10 residents meet in a group (circle formation) once a week with a facilitator (me) and share their experiences in a safe place. I love meeting with these new grads and supporting them. From this experience came one of most popular blog posts "8 Things to Say When Your Patient Dies"  and "Avoid these 10 Rookie Mistakes"    New grads also love "Calling Doctors is Like Playing Football" I have no lack of ideas for writing, I just have a lack of writing time!

Blogging also provides a venue for exposure. Exposure leads to opportunity, and within a short amount of time, I was offered a (paying) job blogging for where I am now their nursing site blogger, writing one article a month.  I also write for other nursing blogs on request. 

Business and Networking Opportunities

Blogging affords potential income. Over Christmas, I earned $488.00 from Amazon in passive income by sponsored advertising on my site, which included a link to Littman stethoscopes. I was slow to monetize my site, and am still not aggressive about it, but I am starting to realize the potential for income. Nurse bloggers who are serious about monetizing their sites can make some nice passive income.

Hawkes - career advice-small.jpgAnother example is landing a job as a Career Columnist "Ask Nurse Beth" with, a well-known nursing forum with over 939,000 members.


Content Development

Another thing educators are well prepared to do is to write content for companies such as HealthStream and Versant. I have written competencies for both and draw on skills acquired as an Educator, such as writing objectives and researching nursing practice.


The chemo knowledge required for my job qualified me to write content for Versant on oncology. Versant prefers their content to be created in PowerPoint, and again, as an Educator, I had that skill.


And perhaps the very best benefit is meeting and networking with nursing leaders and fellow nurse entrepreneurs. This summer in Las Vegas, I met educational guru Laura Gasparis, the “Inspirational Nurse” Donna Cardillo, and Renee Thompson at the National Nurses in Business Association (NNBA) annual conference, as well as powerhouse nursing bloggers Brittney Wilson and Keith Carlson.


Where Skills and Passions Meet

As of this writing, I write for 3 blogs, contribute to a start-up magazine, serve as a career columnist, and write competencies for both HealthStream and Versant.


We all have unique skills and passions. When our skills and passions match opportunity, the sky is the limit.


What are your skills, and what have you always wanted to do?


*Beth Hawkes will be presenting a pre-convention workshop on blogs and infographics at the 2016 ANPD Annual Convention in Pittsburgh, PA.


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