How to become an independent nurse contractor

Updated April 17, 2017

Independent nurse contractors partner with facilities like home health providers, hospitals, rehabilitation centres and doctor's offices to provide hourly nursing support. As an independent contractor, these nurses take on the responsibility and liability of entrepreneurship which affords them job flexibility and convenient scheduling as they select and negotiate the terms of their contract with each facility. While this career channel requires strong business management acumen in addition to nursing licensing and expertise, becoming an independent contractor can be a desirable nursing career for professionals seeking career autonomy.

Complete a nursing degree program. According to the Bureau of Labor, all nurses must graduate from a nursing program as a baseline requirement. Aspiring nurses can choose between an Associate program, while students interested in advanced nursing careers may complete a four year bachelor's nursing program. At the completion of this academic study, you will be required to pass the National Council Licensure Examination issued by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN), to obtain your nursing license.

Acquire your state nursing licenses stipulated by your state as a registered nurse. To work as a contractor, you will need to maintain the proper certification and licensing in addition to the completion of a nursing education program. Each state has specific licensing requirements. For example, in the state of Texas, you are also required to take the nursing jurisprudence examination through the Texas Board of Nursing to apply for permanent licensing. At this time you will also receive a background screening and fingerprinting for state records. The website can help you locate your State Board of Nursing and identify your local requirements (see Resources).

Consider joining or consulting professional associations for nurses pursuing independent contractor careers. The National Nurses Business Association (NNBA) offers fee-based membership and professional resources to nurses looking to create their own nursing employment opportunity. Mericle RN Staffing, LLC offers a start-up guide with resources and guides to beginning your business. Once you have the proper licensing and education, consider these professional resources that can provide business planning and management support, business leads and general counsel.

Research and secure your professional liability insurance. As a nurse contractor, you will want to ensure you are properly bonded in the event a facility or individual takes legal action against you. As a nurse employed through a hospital or other health system, you would retain basic coverage as an employee, but as a contractor, you should acquire appropriate coverage to protect your assets. Nurses Service Organization (NSO) is an insurance provider for independent and employed nurse professionals. Visit their website for information on coverage options and considerations (see Resources).

Search for and register with a nursing staffing agency. Staffing agencies specialising in nursing careers can also have access to opportunities perfect for independent nurse contractors. SNI Staffing, a Nursing agency based in Horsham, PA (see Resources) encourages contract nurses to register and make themselves available for independent opportunities.

Things You'll Need

  • Nursing degree
  • National licensing
  • State licensing
  • Liability insurance
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About the Author

CL Hardy is a communication professional based in Austin, Texas. In addition to writing corporate newsletters, proposals and technical white papers for Fortune 500 clients for more than 12 years, Hardy has been published in "Black Collegian" magazine; her articles on human resources, business and art topics can be found on eHow. She graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with a B.S. in communication.