Amelia Roberts, RN, is a care coordinator, founder and CEO of Solutions by Amelia, and NurseGrid Ambassador.
NurseGrid: Tell us about your background and how that has shaped who you are today.
Amelia: I was raised around entrepreneurs. I always knew I was going to work for myself, but my mom said she would pay for nursing school if I became a nurse like her, so that was my entry into nursing. But being raised around people in business, I always looked for problems and how to solve them. In healthcare it’s the same, I solve problems, and I look for solutions.
Also, when I was 14 I was homeschooled, and we were always encouraged to delve into various interests and activities. That has stayed with me in my nursing career as well.
NurseGrid: You’ve probably made significant strides from wherever you started, just graduated out of nursing school in 2006, to where you are today – what were those first couple years out of school like for you?
Amelia: My first couple years out of school, like any time you first start something new, there were challenges. My first job that I took out of school, they had never hired a new grad before. Where I started there were all of these ex-ICU nurses, so you had these senior nurses who “paid their dues” and then into that situation you had a fresh, new nurse who didn’t “pay her dues,” so that was interesting. I was there for a couple years and realized I wanted to complete my degree and get my Bachelor’s. So I was looking for a part-time job, day shift no weekends, and I ended up in ambulatory care, and I’ve been in some form of ambulatory care since then.
NurseGrid: And now you're a care coordinator in an ambulatory setting. I'd love to hear from your perspective a definition of that role.
Amelia: My definition actually of what this role is comes from what a parent told me. She thanked me for empowering her to take care of her child. So I do what needs to be done in order to help parents care for their kids who have been recently diagnosed with an illness that requires multiple specialties coming together
What the various activities look like that I do in a day can vary. It can look like taking sick calls, when patients or families receive a diagnosis and new medications, what is a concerning response to therapy versus what’s expected. When it comes to insurance authorizations, as far as getting medications paid for, I help take care of that. Making sure the kid is supported in school, making sure that 504 plans are being respected and developed, or that the kid can have home education during disease flares that are more than a few consecutive days, I’m involved with that too. So pretty much helping the family adapt to a new normal in a way that will optimize the life of the child. I’ve been in that role for 6 years.
NurseGrid: So in addition to that, which in itself is a full-time job and not an easy one at that, you have your own business. And I need to hear more about that. Like what do you do, how did this start?
Amelia: I decided I wanted to finish my degree and get a Bachelor’s. During one of our classes, we had to listen to some podcasts, and I was unfamiliar with what podcasts were. I listened to a few that had to do with nursing, and they were talking about nurses who had their own business. That got my wheels turning because in the back of my head I always knew I was going to have my own business
And then I didn’t really do anything with it, but it came time to pay student loans back and let me tell you, I got super inspired. I thought about what I was already doing – social media and running campaigns, volunteering with associations, I was a community manager for a group already. I was like “let me just start charging for that and see what happens,” and one thing led to another. Long and short of it was there were student loans, I knew I had a skill and a talent, I knew how to grow communities, and I was good with finding strategic partners and building relationships. So that was the easiest thing to just start that I could do quickly, just throw up a scheduling calendar where people could offer payment, and that’s it.
NurseGrid: That’s awesome. I’m sure it probably wasn’t as easy as you’re making it sound. What sorts of challenges did you encounter when you were first starting out?
Amelia: It was really hard to start a business. But what does anyone do when they have a problem? They call into a radio show, which is exactly what I did. It was RN FM Radio and you could probably still catch that interview. They took my question thinking I had to use my nursing background to do my business idea.
I was thinking, “OK so how can I legally set it up so that I’m not giving nursing advice and not doing anything that would endanger my license…” I had all these questions, but during that radio show, the hosts were like “you could be a service offering. What is it that you really like to do, what is it that people ask you to do for them, what are you already doing for free, what is something that comes easily and naturally and doesn’t feel like work. What is that thing?” And I thought about what I was doing – social media management, community management – and so I realized, it doesn’t have to be nursing, that doesn’t have to be my first business because truth be told, the first business usually fails. I could practice on this and see what happens and that’s why I started.
I realized that I could monetize something I had already done that came naturally. Once I had my first client testimonial, one thing led to another. Once you realize you can help someone else in a way that’s not necessarily nursing-related, find out what you need in your locality as far as a business license, do the registration, do the legal parts of it. There tends to be a lot of unnecessary barriers that we put up in our heads that we have to check off before we implement.
NurseGrid: Who are you helping, what groups do you work with? Are there conversations that you’ve had with clients or potential clients that have taught you something?
Amelia: I love looking at what I’ve done and I’m starting to re-evaluate what part of this work has felt really good and has been really enjoyable. The biggest successes that have made me feel good have been securing sponsorships, securing national speaking engagements, introductions to investors, and getting my clients to participate in a request for proposals.
It has been very client-specific and from the outset, I let them know it’s important for them to know that the solution may not be us working together, but I can recommend other people who can best support them.
NurseGrid: It sounds like you work with all types of clients. Is there any sort of specialty that you really enjoy working with, like coaches or people in the fashion space?
Amelia: It’s so funny that you said fashion because I had an early client that was a makeup artist. But because I’m a naturally strategic thinker, I don’t necessarily have a particular industry that I like working with more than another. The way I approach it is looking for strategic partners and influencers, and those influencers may not necessarily be people who have hundreds of thousands of followers, they may just have more of a reach than my client does and my client can serve their audience as well. My ideal client would be somebody who’s open to being connected with a strategic partner.
NurseGrid: How do you maintain any sort of balance in your life? You have a business, you have a full-time job, you have friends and family.
Amelia: Yeah, so I have a pretty extensive self-care regimen. I have a side interest in pediatric palliative care; it’s a passion. So at my job, they were teaching people who weren’t necessarily Heme/Onc nurses, and they took us through learning more about palliative care. And I was first exposed to aromatherapy; I was exposed to essential oils, I was exposed to reflexology and a lot of other integrative modalities through that. And I recently started incorporating aromatherapy and essential oils into my life, into my self-care. I have an oil diffuser that, if I’m feeling a little frazzled or something, there’s a blend that I use. If I’m feeling like I need more creativity, there’s a blend I use for that. If I’m feeling like I just need to get more grounded, there’s a blend that I can use for that. And that’s been working for me, that helps me. It’s a tiny simple thing, but it’s just something that I do for 15 minutes a day, it’s really easy to pick my blend and plug it in.
NurseGrid: Is there anything you wish somebody would have told you when you were a new nurse or even when you were starting to consider launching your own business?
Amelia: It goes back to nursing. My preceptor when I first started told me something her dad told her, that anything a person can do, you can do. And as someone else told me, anything is learnable. Don’t set limitations. Just because you’re a nurse doesn’t mean you can’t learn the latest and greatest in SEO strategies and tactics. It doesn’t mean you can’t learn to make an amazing sales funnel. It doesn’t mean you can’t learn how to do anything that you wish.
Also, invest in sales training! Like it or not, we are ALL in sales. I wish that instead of a McDonald's or fast food place, kids ALL went into direct sales of some sort. Discovering and conveying your value effectively is a skill and a gift everyone should have.