Common Growing Pains of Scaling Independent Nursing Practices

Becoming a nurse practitioner or another type of advanced practice nurse opens up lots of exciting career opportunities and possibilities, including entrepreneurship within the healthcare field. Independent nursing practices are growing in popularity as advanced practice nurses gain more autonomy.

Independent nurse practice

photo credit: Laura James / Pexels

Nurses who open their own practices have the opportunity to be their own boss and build a work environment that suits their personal style and care philosophy. If they are successful and start to build a strong following of patients, scaling the business can become a necessity. However, that can come along with some growing pains.

Here are just some of the obstacles independent nursing practices might encounter during the scaling process.

Trouble Adapting to Evolving Administrative and Regulatory Needs

As a practice grows, systems that worked perfectly well in a small practice become inefficient or completely unusable as the number of patients and employees increases. Setting up new operational protocols and systems is an important part of the scaling process, but it can take time to figure out what tools and personnel are needed to make everything run smoothly.

Making use of automation tools, outsourcing some of the administrative work, or bringing on more administrative staff are some of the ways growing practices can cope with evolving administrative needs. During the messy process of updating systems, prioritizing patient safety and regulatory compliance is critical.

Difficulty Hiring and Retaining Qualified Staff

Finding the right people to hire is a constant struggle for healthcare businesses. There is a shortage of nurses and other healthcare professionals, which can make it hard for independent practices to attract and retain the best talent. On top of that, many healthcare professionals are stressed and overworked due to staff shortages and increased demand for healthcare services.

Being patient and providing an attractive work environment are key to finding the right candidates. Nursing practices need talented staff in order to grow, and hiring the wrong people to support the scaling process can be a costly mistake.

Poor Financial Management

Independent nursing practice owners can easily get into financial trouble when they start investing in growth. Scaling a practice involves increased expenses. While these investments are intended to pay off in growth for the practice, careful management is needed to avoid spending too much on the scaling process.

Poor financial management during the scaling process can include not having a financial plan and budget for the project to keep it on track. Additionally, practices can get into trouble by not having clear strategies for increasing revenue in tandem with increased expenses.

Talking with knowledgeable financial and business advisors before investing in scaling is important for making wise investments. It’s important for independent nursing practices to have enough cash flow through investments, loans, and revenue, to support scaling. Medical practices come with high overhead and it’s very easy to slide into trouble with poor financial management practices.

Struggling to Adapt Marketing Strategies

Marketing strategies change as a practice scales. A larger marketing budget can allow for more investment into long-term strategies that might not provide return on investment right away, but will help to bring in a consistent flow of business. Pivoting to this kind of strategy, however, can be difficult for small practices that want to get bigger.

Word-of-mouth is an effective method of spreading the word and getting new business. However, most of a practice’s patients will come from other marketing channels. It’s important for growing practices to understand how important marketing is to the growth and scaling process. To pay for the increased costs of scaling, attracting new patients is critical.

Branding for healthcare organizations is another aspect of building and scaling a practice that many nurse practitioners don’t consider. As a medical practice grows, consistency in the brand voice and image becomes more and more important.

We Need Independent Nursing Practices to Succeed and Grow

The current primary care physician shortage in the United States has prompted many nurses to pursue additional training, certifications, and ongoing learning. This influx of nurse practitioners has been making a big difference in the availability of quality care. We need independent nursing practices to succeed and grow for the well-being of the population as a whole.

Building a successful and compliant independent practice is challenging, especially when the time comes to think about scaling. Advanced practice nurses must be prepared for obstacles that can and will come up. Before attempting to scale, they need to understand the potential challenges that could stall their progress.

At the end of the day, nurse practitioners need to embrace their independent nursing practice for what it is: a business. These practices play an important role in increasing care access, improving health outcomes, and filling care gaps in the healthcare industry. Helping them to succeed helps everyone!


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