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COVID Turned Me Into A CEO

4 minJune, 12 2024Jessica Queen, APRN, CEO Omedus

The word entrepreneur often evokes thoughts of young men in their twenties wearing custom t shirts and playing ping pong in their trendy office spaces. High-tech products and million-dollar mergers are certainly not often discussed from the nurse's station.  While similarities do exist between startups and nursing from managing chaos to frequent pizza parties (the solution to all staffing issues), it is rare when these worlds overlap. When I decided to start Omedus  and create the StatPatch, there were many questions and quite a bit of pushback and disbelief as ‘nurses just don't do that.’  I did hesitate to go on this journey for several reasons, but the concern of my peers in the healthcare world probably gave me the most pause. 

Learned Fact #1: Everyone will have an opinion on what you are doing, consider the motive behind their thoughts very carefully

I have spent my entire career in healthcare, and I knew it would be my path from the moment I got a copy of Grey’s Anatomy in 6th grade.  I was obsessed and attempted to learn everything I could about the body and its function.  I started in the kitchen at a local nursing home when I was 15 and transitioned to nurse aide while studying for my bachelor's.  I worked as a cardiac nurse at a few hospitals before settling at Nebraska Medicine on the cardiac progressive floor which included heart and lung transplant patients. I was working my dream job with the cutting edge of cardiac technology in our region.  So how did my perfectly acceptable and normal nursing career trajectory get so horribly off course? 

I became frustrated with various nursing units as there were issues that could be fixed but despite my committee participation or attempts at initiating new workflows or programs, things never changed enough for me to feel we had improved.  While I had previously sworn I would never go back to school, it appeared the only way to make a bigger difference was to become a nurse practitioner.  The rigor of my master's program clashed with my current job, so I jumped into travel nursing as this afforded the most flexibility while juggling three small children and full time clinical work. 

A two dimensional image of the word “impossible” on top of a hill. The letters I and M are being kicked away by a person seen only as a black silhouette, revealing the letters that are left, which spell out “possible”.

Learned Fact #2: People may say what you want to do is impossible, this is because it is impossible for them

Life was going well for a while until the spring of 2020, the stress of that year was incredible as I was on the frontlines traveling in the COVID units while continuing to finish out my master's program. I was also trying to support my suddenly unemployed husband who was now homeschooling our three small children. 

The COVID shifts were difficult, and the worst were the ones on the understaffed med surg floors as without enough monitoring equipment for every patient we would occasionally round on a patient to find they were deteriorating rapidly, or they had passed away.  This is truly where the idea for the StatPatch was born as every unit outside the ICU was short on monitoring equipment and I knew there had to be a better way to manage these large amounts of patients.  

Learned Fact #3: Your support network will determine your success, be intentional and careful when building your inner network

While I had no idea how to build what was needed, I connected with people through my local entrepreneur network, and we started building in September of 2023.  The StatPatch is designed to be simple, it is a peel-and-stick patch that monitors patient vitals and can change colors based on standard triage levels.

While they can work independently, we also created a dashboard that connects up to 1000 Statpatch at a time and simplifies the coordination and monitoring of large groups of people for scenarios like understaffed med-surg floors, overcrowded emergency rooms, and mass casualty events.  We are starting FDA trials in Fall of 2024 which is like a dream come true. 

This path is not for everyone, but anyone can be an entrepreneur, especially nurses.  Finding that group of people who support and guide you is essential and will take some work.  I would encourage anyone who just cannot stop thinking about how to solve a problem to seek other entrepreneurial people out and go start something, you just never know where the road will take you.  

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