NASHVILLE — This year marks the 20th anniversary of the launch of the National Nurse Entrepreneurship Center, a national network of nurses and their community members dedicated to fostering entrepreneurship in healthcare.
But it wasn’t always so.
The nonprofit’s founding mother, Nisha Thomas, started the center in 1993 and its founder, Nancy O’Brien, came up with the concept for the network in the 1990s.
Today, the network has grown to more than 6,500 members nationwide.
Nashville was one of the first places to bring entrepreneurship into the mainstream.
And, after a decade of success, it’s still an entrepreneurial haven, attracting people from around the country who seek to help their community.
The Center for Innovation in Health Care (CIHCC), a partnership between the Nashville Hospitality Association, The Nashville Medical Society, The National Association of Social Workers, the Tennessee Hospital Association, and the Nashville-based National Nurse Enterprise Association, hosts the annual Entrepreneuria Summit, a three-day, two-week event that brings together more than 600 entrepreneurs and health care professionals.
“The goal is to bring together the people that are most interested in building a business,” said CIHCC President and CEO Michelle Gorman.
“I’m hoping that they come to learn and share their experience in entrepreneurship with the other attendees and the people at the summit.”
Nancy O’Briens founding mother is at the center of the NNEP, the National Nurses United (Nurses for Affordable Healthcare) network, which began in the 1980s and has grown into a national leader in the field.NNEP was formed in 1983, when nurses at four of Nashville’s hospitals joined together to form the national nurse alliance to support women who needed healthcare.
The NNECC’s mission is to educate and inspire those who want to build their own business, while also connecting with healthcare providers and businesses interested in helping to build a sustainable business model.
“I think it’s a great idea,” said Michelle Gorton, president of the Nashville Medical Association.
“We really have a strong relationship with the nurses.
They’re very important to us.”
In addition to working with nurses and medical personnel, Gortons organization works with community health centers, small businesses and health insurers to offer education on entrepreneurship and help them navigate the federal healthcare system.
The Nashville Medical School is a founding member of the CIHNC and hosts a conference for health care leaders every year.
The hospital has partnered with the Center for Entrepreneurs and Innovators, an alliance of local businesses, to host a number of local entrepreneurship events and seminars in the fall.
Nathan and Susanne Koehler founded the Nashville Community College and recently opened a second location in the Northside neighborhood of downtown.
The couple has been entrepreneurs for years, but the idea for the new hospital came about when they were looking for a place to raise funds for a medical school expansion.
Natalie Koehlers said her husband wanted to start a hospital and said, “I know a lot of you have kids.
So we need to raise money to do that.”
They enlisted the help of their family physician and his business partner, Nathan Bostwick, who had already built an online business and wanted to help.
After their first year, the couple decided to expand the school, and they started to build it from the ground up.
Their goal was to have it open by the end of 2019.
“We were going to get it to where it was ready for our patients and our patients’ families,” said Koehners.
“It’s the kind of place where you can really start a business that you feel comfortable in.
So it was an important thing for us to do, to build that.”
The Koehlers now have four locations and have raised more than $6.7 million in capital from private investors and local governments.
Their first building opened in October 2019.
While the Koehsons have expanded the scope of the business, they have kept the same core ethos of helping to create a community that can support them.
They also continue to work closely with their hospital partners and community partners to help develop a business plan and a business strategy.
“Our primary mission is not to be the first to get in, but to make it the best,” said Susanne.
“Our goal is really to be a destination for people to come to, not to have to pay a deposit to get there.”
The family has found success in the past, but there’s still a lot to be done.
They plan to open a second hospital later this year, but their focus right now is to find a partner who will build their company into a viable business.
“It’s really about us having a vision and we are still focused on building the right kind of business,” Nathan said.
“This is the most