This installment of the nurse entrepreneur series features Jamie L Howard-Hamm, RN, BSN, VA-BC. Jamie is the founder and CEO of Vascular Access Plus, a unique nurse-run agency in Omaha, Neb., that is dedicated to providing patients with access to high-quality vascular access care. In this Q&A, Jamie shares her experience as an entrepreneur, as well as advice for other nurses who may be considering a nursing entrepreneurial venture of their own.
Q. How long have you been a nurse? What’s your nursing background/experience?
A. I graduated with my RN Diploma from Bryan Memorial Hospital School of Nursing in July 1998. I started as a new grad in the adult ICU surgical trauma unit at Creighton University Medical Center. In August of 2000, I graduated with my BSN from Creighton University. My experience has been in the adult ICU for nine years, acute care dialysis for four years, and four years in a burn unit at Saint Elizabeth Regional Burn Center. So I have been a registered nurse for 17 years.
Q. What was the impetus behind starting Vascular Access Plus? What services do you provide?
A. I get asked a lot why I started Vascular Access Plus, and the answer is very simple. I found a gap in healthcare services, and I was told I couldn’t do it. I started providing vascular access services to long-term care facilities and then to critical care access hospitals. Three years later, I started servicing acute care hospitals. My company provides a full vascular access service. Placing the vascular access device is just a small part of vascular access. Any insertion is not truly successful if the primary nurse caring for the device does not know how to care for it once it is placed, the facility does not have up-to-date polices and procedures in house for staff to know how to care for it, the providers are unaware of what vascular access device to order and why, and/or the patient outcomes are not positive. Currently, Vascular Access Plus places PICC lines, Midlines, PIVs and clysis. We also provide clinical nursing support, which includes administration of de-clotting agents, port access and de-access, dressing changes, and troubleshooting. We also provide education and competencies for nursing staff.
Q. I noticed you state on your website that you have a 0% infection rate. What do you attribute that to?
A. All new hires for Vascular Access Plus go through an extensive three-month training program. All staff go through a six-month competency review. The No 1 goal for all staff at Vascular Access Plus is 100% compliance to sterility in all procedures. We follow through post insertion and provide a 24/7 resource. The bottom line is we work very hard, take accountability, and we care.Jamie L. Howard-Hamm, RN, operates a nurse-run agency in Omaha, Neb.
Q. What is the best thing about being a nurse entrepreneur?
A. Wow! I would say the best thing is leading the change. Not only am I leading it, but I am a big part of mapping out the path for a successful change.
Q. What are the greatest challenges?
A. Balance. I love my work so much and I love my kids and family so much, but there are never enough hours in a day. I am a single mom, so my kids help me balance and keep perspective. The greatest challenge still remains turning off from work when I’m at home.
Q. Looking back, as you started your business, what do you wish you had known? What advice would you give others?
A. I have started, and will continue, to write for others the foundation of starting a business. I have read so many books yet they still don’t tell you the truth – or all of it – when you have to make decisions about office space, payroll, evaluating what administrative staff is needed, how to handle follow through with employees, taxes and taxes again.
My advice is to set your culture and stand by your beliefs. Don’t lie, and follow through. As you grow your business, your foundation has to be strong. Your team will follow you first, then they will follow your mission and vision.
Want to learn more about Vascular Access Plus?
Check out the Vascular Access Plus website to read more about this unique company and its mission.
Interested in other nurse entrepreneurial success stories?
You can find more nurse entrepreneur Q&A’s here.