The Leader of Nurses in Business - Meet RN Entrepreneur Michelle Podlesni

How long have you been a nurse and what areas of nursing did you work in?  I can’t believe that I have been a nurse over 35 years! In the hospital setting, I worked 10 years in Med/Surg and Critical Care Nursing and I still am nursing today, providing Medical Cost Containment Consulting for corporate clients and Business Development services for Nurses. I really enjoy being a consultant in both areas because reviewing medical records keeps me current with healthcare delivery and working with nurses inspires and continually challenges me.

Can you share how your skills as a bedside Nurse and serving in the military led you to a successful career in healthcare data analysis, medical cost-containment and software development?   Well first off, it never occurred to me to have a career working with data analysis and software development. What led me to that career transition was as a result of being burned out and I just had a strong desire to find another way to use my nursing knowledge. Desire and readiness was key to making that change. I interviewed for a Healthcare Resource Specialist position with a major insurance company that was going to allow me to work 9 to 5 and have weekends off. I was good with that!

This was a care management type of role and my nursing experience came into play on a variety of medical issues facing claimants and claims examiners. I provided education and resources for beneficiaries, claim examiners and their extended family members. I loved the educational aspects to this role and a collaterally, I learned how to use a computer. This was the mid-eighties and very few people worked with computers. My role required a high degree of independent research and I discovered that I had a knack for analyzing data, reporting analyses and seeing trends.  From serving in the Navy I gained confidence. There is a saying in the military that “it will either make you or break you” and I didn’t let it break me.  You develop a confidence in situations that carries you throughout the rest your life. You definitely learn what is important and what is not important.  It was a privilege and honor to serve our military and their families providing healthcare services.

You are the president of National Nurses in Business Association. What are some of the interesting things you have seen Nurses do in business when they leave the bedside?  Nurses can do anything so how much space do I have? Nurse Speakers, Educators and Instructors hold seminars and workshops that deal with the pressing needs of the community. They are addressing areas such as Health Literacy, Diabetic Education, Specific Dementia Disorders, Patient Advocacy, Elder Care and Stress Reduction. Health and Wellness Nurses have developed a myriad of services that include Exercise, Meditation, Reiki, Yoga, Disease Prevention and Laughter. Nurses make great Consultants since there are over 150 medical specialties and subspecialties in which nurses have nursing expertise. There are nurse inventors and product developers. There are also nurses that have become acclaimed Speakers, Authors and Experts with tremendous following on social media. Case Management is always evolving and it is amazing how nurses find niches to explore such as Life Care Planning and Geriatric Case Management is exploding in growth.

Of course the best place to see this is in October at our 2015 Nurse Entrepreneurship and Career Alternatives Conference in Las Vegas this October 14-16th. Nurses are very creative so there is no limit on how nurses are using their education and experience. 

What do you love most about nursing?  That it is a profession that allows you to design a career around every stage of your life. I was a bedside nurse, case manager, utilization review manager, software designer and developer, a C-suite executive in the corporate world, a senior care company owner, author and entrepreneur. Each of these transitions and reinventions were a result of my life changing. My nursing career changed along with it. So opportunities are unlimited. What other profession can say that. I love how being a nurse has prepared me for achieving everything I have ever wanted in life. I’ve met so many people that tell me they never use their degree but I have never met a nurse that didn’t use her nursing knowledge.

Tell me what you consider the biggest challenges or concerns about nursing today.  My biggest concern about nursing today is stress placed on nurses by the hospital systems, which for the most part are large corporations. The number one cost center is the nursing staff and it is the first place they go with budgetary cuts. It is also the first place they go when there are new directives, software deployments and medical devices that need constant updating and training. The demand that nurses to be all things to all people is causing high levels of burnout and 40% of nurses that are dissatisfied with their work.

What throws you off balance and how do you know you are out of balance?  Taking on too much. I tend to overwork and over think. If that goes on too long I find I become ineffective and it doesn’t “feel good”.

What brings you back into balance?  Stopping what I am doing and getting quiet because in getting quiet I get centered on what is truly important in life. Relationships are everything - My relationship with God, my family, friends and colleagues. I am someone that has to continually work on having a more balanced life. Many days it is too elusive.

Tell me about your most favorite nursing job and why. That’s too hard because I have loved all the jobs I have had and currently have. It isn’t my nature to stay in a job that I don’t fine enjoyable and fulfilling. But if I had to pick one that was a favorite it would be my first time working in an Intensive Care Unit. I know it sounds strange to some nurses but I never laughed as hard as I did with those nurse colleagues and I still have recipes from some of the best food. We didn’t just work together; we shared many special moments during that time.

What advice would you give to new grads starting out?  So, especially as you are starting out, try as many new things as you can. You will learn about things but more importantly you will learn things about yourself. I devoted a chapter in my book “Unconventional Nurse Going From Burnout to Bliss” to how important it is to become comfortable being uncomfortable. Don’t ever settle because you deserve a life and career that you love and are excited about!





Book Review: Your Next Shift by Elizabeth Scala

You may recall I interviewed Elizabeth Scala a few months ago to help promote her book Nursing From Within. Click here to read the interview. Well her creative juices didn’t stop there and she is now releasing a new book. In Your Next Shift: How to Kick Your Nursing Career into High Gear, Elizabeth shares her struggles and celebrations on her path from leaving the bedside of psychiatric nursing towards nursing entrepreneurship.

She refers to herself as a visionary and offers tools, including universal laws, affirmations and reflective questions for nurses to identify what is blocking them from taking the next step. She has some wise advice and I guarantee you didn’t learn this in nursing school.


I would recommend checking her book out if you are interested in nurse entrepreneurship. As someone who has embraced change and opportunity in several different nursing specialties, I would also suggest this book to nurses that plan to stay at the bedside but are looking for greater work satisfaction. This book may serve as a catalyst for change.

Nurse develops product to rescue nurse's necks - NURSE BORN

Sarah Mott started her career as a CNA at a Rehab Hospital in 1998, where she trained to do many nursing duties. As a new Nurse in 2001, she worked in a team-nursing model in which the CNAs, LPNs and RNs worked effectively with the multidisciplinary team to care for the physically demanding patients.

SM: I always felt respected as a nurse in my first job because the Nurse Managers and the Director of Nursing advocated for the staff. In 2006, I decided to explore Oncology nursing at another hospital. I became chemo certified and found Oncology nursing very challenging and rewarding. After four years I developed severe neck pain that forced me to leave.

I gave Home Care Nursing a try but I missed the camaraderie of my co-workers and did not enjoy all the driving and the paperwork! My pain symptoms worsened and I was diagnosed with inflammatory arthritis. I had now considered turning my Lotus Stethoscope Holder project from a fun idea into a “real” product.

After awhile, I returned to a part time position at a Rehab facility because I missed nursing so much. Unfortunately, it was a toxic workplace. Management did nothing to advocate for nurses. Staff bullying, gossiping and writing each other up was routine. The lack of support from administration and the negative environment created a situation in which I started to doubt my abilities. I began to feel very negative and depressed.  I resigned this past January, but I still feel the affects of the negative experience.

I now work full-time running Nurse Born Products.

What do you love most about nursing and/or running your business?                                               There is so much that I love about nursing; The busy pace, the burst of adrenaline that goes along with the job, patient teaching and providing caregivers with resources, getting a good seal on a wound vac dressing, holding the hand of patient undergoing a painful or scary procedure, being an advocate, connecting with family and the patient, and comforting a loved one when their family member has passed. 

I love my co-workers and the quirky sense of humor that only nurses can understand!

Now, I love running my own business and creating my own schedule. I feel proud when my customers are satisfied with my product. It is gratifying when a nurse contacts me and tells me that I have inspired her/him.  I love working with the nurses that sell their products through Nurse Born.  I have found that nurse entrepreneurs are extremely supportive of each other.  I really enjoy going to trade shows and other events in which I have the opportunity to meet other nurses. 

What throws you off balance and how do you know you are out of balance?                          

Being around negativity throws me off balance.  I have learned that negativity is infectious and that over time you begin to absorb these feelings. Negativity affects you both physically and emotionally.  

What brings you back into balance?                                                                                            

When I am feeling negative, positive self talk and faith helps bring me back into balance.  Yoga, exercise and eating healthy allows me to feel strong and gives me the energy to bring things back into balance. 

Tell me a bit about what kind of products nurses create.                                                            

There are a lot of nurse authors who write books or create websites in which they blog about nursing issues and some nurses provide coaching services.  

Gripsors are a pair of scissors with added function, they have teeth for gripping things such as tight stop cocks, and a hook for pulling things open or using as an oxygen key.  Sharon Zelinko, RN invented Gripsors at the young age of 79 and she is now 80 something and she continues to travel the country selling her product and when she is not selling she works as a nurse at long-term care facility.

Deborah Tacoma, RN invented the freedom wand a personal hygiene aid.

Joyce Harrell, RN invented a portable tray table that can attach to the bedside, IV poles, wheelchair or walker. Other products include, jewelry, scrub hats, custom badge reels and much more!

What advice would you have for nurses interested in creating a product?                                      

It is a huge commitment that takes a long time before it can become a reality.  You must be completely dedicated and willing to make a lot of sacrifices to see it through.  Most importantly, if you believe in your product don't let naysayers bring you down.  You will have a lot of doors slam in your face before one opens. 

Tell me about your most favorite nursing job and why.                                                                 

The Rehab and Oncology/General Surgery, both had healthy work environments. I loved being part of the team that cared for the entire person. We worked together to bring the patient to their maximum potential and helped improve their quality of life and obtain as much independence possible.  We did not just treat the wound or bleed - we treated the whole person. I also loved the positions because management was closely involved with what was happening with the patients on the floor. I felt appreciated by the management and upper administration, the doctors were pleasant and the staff had each other’s back.  The CEO of the hospital was a nurse and nurses were highly respected. We received plenty of continuing education opportunities and Doctors who were repeatedly disrespectful or rude to nurses were sent to anger management. 

What advice would you give to new grads starting out?      

Start your career in a facility that will provide support and advocate for you.  Know how to maintain boundaries both with the employer and patients. No one knows it all - don't be afraid to ask. One more thing, you are not above toileting or providing personal hygiene to an incontinent patient.