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How to Become an Independent Private Duty Nurse

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A private duty nurse is a registered nurse (RN) or licensed practical nurse (LPN) who provides individual care to patients requiring more in-depth and continuous care than they receive in once- or twice-a-day visits. Private duty nursing is prescribed by a physician for those patients who have an injury, illness, mental or physical condition that warrants the additional coverage. Build a business as an independent private duty nurse through contacts and references.

Earn a License

You may be able to provide home care for the elderly or disabled without a license, but you can’t receive payments from Medicare, Medicaid or insurance companies unless you have a license to practice as a registered nurse. Complete your schooling and earn an associate or bachelor’s degree in nursing and then get your state license. Once you’ve completed the tests for licensing, you can bill yourself out for private duty assignments. Earn additional credentials in areas such as respiratory care or pediatrics to qualify for different kinds of jobs. Cover yourself with a surety bond to guarantee clients that you will fulfill your duties as stated in the contract you provide.

Build a Portfolio

Create a portfolio of services you offer and include referral letters from previous clients, a copy of your state license and a copy of your payment options. Pass out the portfolio to geriatric health care providers in your area, at senior centers, churches and local trust and estate planning attorneys. Once you develop a few stable clients, you will begin to receive more referrals and have less need for active marketing.

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Register With Area Providers

One of the benefits of being a private duty nurse is that you control the hours and places where you work. Area hospitals and nursing homes often need to call in private duty nurses to provide the comprehensive care in a doctor’s orders. Find out the requirements of the local facilities in your area and register with the human resource department as a private duty nurse available on an as-needed basis.

Develop Backups

Private duty care may be tasking on an independent contractor’s schedule, leaving you with little or no time off. To ensure clients that they will be provided care as directed in the plans written up by their physicians, develop a relationship with a private duty nursing agency so you can call on them to cover shifts when you are unable to make it. Alternatively, as you begin to build a business, you should hire other registered nurses to work for you and build your own agency.

2016 Salary Information for Registered Nurses

Registered nurses earned a median annual salary of $68,450 in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On the low end, registered nurses earned a 25th percentile salary of $56,190, meaning 75 percent earned more than this amount. The 75th percentile salary is $83,770, meaning 25 percent earn more. In 2016, 2,955,200 people were employed in the U.S. as registered nurses.

About the Author

Linda Ray is an award-winning journalist with more than 20 years reporting experience. She's covered business for newspapers and magazines, including the "Greenville News," "Success Magazine" and "American City Business Journals." Ray holds a journalism degree and teaches writing, career development and an FDIC course called "Money Smart."

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