How to Become a Nursing Intrapreneur

Catherine Burger, MSOL, RN, NEA-BC | Updated/Verified: Sep 19, 2023

You likely are familiar with the term or role of the entrepreneur: someone who creates a new business, innovation, invention, etc. Along the same vein, the intrapreneur is the same person within the confines of the organization who is innovating, inventing new processes for established workflows, or creating new products or services for the business.

How Can Nurse Leaders Become Intrapreneurs?

First, let’s determine what it takes and what skills or competencies are needed to become an intrapreneur. In the text, “Leadership for Evidenced-Based Innovation in Nursing and Health Professions,” authors (chapter 6) Kathy Malloch and Tim Porter O’Grady list considerable knowledge, skills, and abilities nurse leaders require to innovate and create.

Some of these skills, which many can be taught and developed, include self-confidence and motivation, the ability to understand complex change management theories, a high regard for the value of innovation, a clear vision of goals to accomplish, the ability to communicate the value of change and innovation, collaboration and teambuilding power, optimism to the future, willingness to make a risky decision and a competency in translating ideas into operations.

Along with skills to drive change, the nurse leader intrapreneur must have executive sponsorship for innovative or new ideas being proposed. One can only launch a sustainable product or change with the buy-in from the C-Suite, especially if money or personnel (human capital) is involved in the transformation.

Once sponsorship is aligned, the nurse leader intrapreneur must be able to sell the new ideas to the staff or organization. Even dormant ideas or projects can become the “new shiny penny” of the organization by adding some zhuzh and selling it to key stakeholders.

Innovative and intrapreneurial nurse leaders proactively seek ways of making things happen instead of waiting to be told what to do. Most (effective) leaders want their people to take the initiative to look for ideas to improve operations. Inclusive leaders are curious, passionate, humble, and fearless regarding change, which is the essence of leadership.

Ultimately, the nurse leaders who consistently look for ways to affect positive organizational changes do so because they genuinely want to improve the system for their patients, staff, and communities they serve.


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