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How to Become a Nurse Freelancer

by Joelle Y. Jean, RN, FNP-BC
• 4 min read
How to Become a Nurse Freelancer

You rarely see the words "nurse" and "freelancer" in the same sentence. The freelance industry often attracts self-employed creatives like photographers and web designers seeking contract work. But can nurses be freelancers too? Absolutely! Nurses looking for a side hustle or full-time contract work can also become nurse freelancers.

Many nurses hold degrees in another field and complete an accelerated nursing program to earn a second degree. They use skills from their previous education and professional experiences to perform freelance work outside of the healthcare field.

Freelancing provides:

A flexible schedule An outlet from your full-time position Extra and steady income Self-employment

Freelance job opportunities in 2020 increased by 8% in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, as workers and employers alike sought more flexible employment options. Nurses who have been furloughed or laid off have also benefited from freelance work.

Sound interesting? Read on and learn what it means to be a nurse freelancer, the difference between freelancing and staff nursing, how to become a freelance nurse, its pros and cons, and the steps you can take to get started.

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What Does It Mean To Be a Nurse Freelancer?

Nurse freelancers work for a certain amount of time until their contract expires. They might be self-employed independent contractors or hired as consultants. Nurse freelancers can also work in:

Hospitals Physicians' offices Home healthcare companies Clinics Schools

Freelancing nursing roles are different from staff nurse positions. Nurse freelancers choose their own contracts and make their own schedules. Staff nurses work for a facility and are bound by that facility's rules and regulations.

Some nurses with additional degrees or hobbies freelance in areas outside of the healthcare field, earning extra money through:

  • Photography
  • Cake decorating
  • Teaching a foreign language
  • Dancing
  • Information technology skills
  • Finance
  • Massage therapy
  • Acupuncture
  • Wellness coach
  • Yoga instructor

Steps To Becoming a Nurse Freelancer

You can follow certain steps to become a nurse freelancer. Do your research and set some realistic short- and long-term goals. It's important to manage your expectations while having fun and exploring your options.

1. Establish Realistic Goals and Expectations

Establish realistic goals and expectations in any line of work you pursue. Nurse freelancers are self-employed and hold themselves accountable for their careers and contracts.

Determine what you want to get out of nurse freelancing. Write down your goals and ask yourself:

  • Do I want to earn additional income?
  • Is my goal to pay off student debt?
  • Do I want to be my own boss?
  • Do I want to turn my freelance job into my main source of income?
  • Am I following a dream or passion?

Next, write down what you expect to gain from being a nurse freelancer. Ask yourself:

  • Is nurse freelancing for me?
  • Are there any costs associated with freelancing?
  • Can I afford these costs?
  • Do I have the time to freelance?
  • Do I have enough savings if work is low?
  • Am I self-motivated?
  • Am I self-disciplined enough?
  • Is now a good time to start freelancing?

2. Choose a Type of Freelance Work

How do you choose a freelance opportunity? Do what you love. Here are some things to keep in mind:

  • What you like and don't like about your primary job
  • Your specific skills, experience, or specialty
  • Your passion (for example, if you love working with children, look for pediatric opportunities)

Choose freelance work that aligns with your lifestyle, goals, and personality. Consider:

  • Do you want to work from home?
  • How often do you want to freelance?
  • Will your freelance job align with your earning expectations?
  • Is this freelance opportunity fun?

3. Create a Business Plan

Once you figure out your passion, set yourself up for success. To prevent future difficulties, research any potential financial and tax implications.

Many freelancers create a business plan to organize and set measurable goals for their endeavors. Resources like the U.S. Small Business Administration offer information on developing business plans.

You should also consult a certified public accountant to help you choose the type of business you want. Each type comes with pros and cons. The four basic categories are:

  1. Sole proprietorship - This type of business is run and owned by one person.
  2. Limited Liability Company (LLC) - LLC means it is owned by one or more people. There are tax savings associated with creating an LLC. This designation also offers liability protection.
  3. S Corporation - An LLC or corporation can choose this tax status.
  4. Partnership - In this kind of business, owners form a legal partnership. They share profits and manage the company based on their set terms and agreements.

4. Manage Your Finances

Although you are following your passion, you also want to get paid for your services. It is very important to set up a billing system to collect payment. Create invoices after you provide services so you can track your payments for tax purposes. Google sheets offers a free invoice template.

Other ways to collect payment include services such as PayPal, Venmo, and Zelle.

Opening your own business sounds glamorous, but you must consider costs and learn to manage your finances. Consider speaking with a financial advisor or CPA, or consult the National Foundation for Credit Counseling for advice.

5. Create a Productive Work Environment

Being productive and getting your creative juices flowing requires space, especially if you're planning to work from home. A workspace also keeps you organized and focused. A good workspace features:

  • A quiet space
  • Minimal distractions
  • Affordable and comfortable home office supplies, hardware, and furniture

If you're unable to work from home, consider leasing a space.

6. Manage Your Time

Time management can be difficult if you're juggling other responsibilities. A daily routine is a great way to prevent burnout. Will you freelance during the day? At night? On weekends? Here are some other tips to help you manage your time:

  • Determine how much time you can dedicate to freelancing.
  • Create space to balance your full-time position, family obligations, and freelancing.
  • Dedicate some time each day to self-care.
  • Decide if you should do freelance work on a part- or full-time basis.

Pros and Cons of Becoming a Nurse Freelancer

Pros

You enjoy the freedom to set your own schedule and take time off as needed. You can make all of your own business decisions, especially if you are a sole proprietor. You make your own schedule and create your own work environment.

Cons

Finding financial security without dedicated clients or consistent work can be challenging. You may face out-of-pocket costs like health insurance. Making so many business decisions can often feel like a job in itself.

Jumpstart Your Freelance Journey

Becoming a nurse freelancer is a great way to reinvent yourself and provide needed services. However, being fully prepared before starting a business can make the difference between success and failure.

As a nurse freelancer, you can make great income using your nursing skills or other talents. You may even decide to become a full-time nurse freelancer.

Frequently Asked Questions About Nurse Freelancing


What does a freelance nurse writer do?

A freelance nurse writer uses his or her healthcare knowledge to write about health- and/or nursing-related topics.

What are the best freelance opportunities for nurses?

Nurses often find freelance opportunities in areas like:

  • Home health
  • Medical, nursing, and/or science writing
  • Tutoring
  • Private duty nursing
  • Nurse consulting
  • Telehealth services
  • Cardiopulmonary resuscitation instruction
  • Pet sitting or dog walking
  • Telemetry nursing

How much do freelance nurses make?

Freelance opportunities span many fields and industries. As a result, salary potential varies greatly among individuals. However, here are some examples of how much freelance nurses can make. All figures are from PayScale and current as of July 2021.

  • Medical writer: Medical writers make an average yearly base salary of $73,550.
  • Telemetry nurse: Telemetry nurses can earn $62,300 per year.
  • Legal nurse consultant: These legal consultants can make up to $49 an hour.

What is an independent contractor nurse?

An independent contractor nurse is similar to a nurse freelancer. Although both are self-employed, independent contractor nurses work for hospitals or facilities as temporary hires during nursing shortages. Like nurse freelancers, they can travel and build their own patient care lists.

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