By: Aisha Martin
Hi Santisha! It’s such a pleasure to interview you during National Nurses Month. Please introduce yourself to our readers.
SW: Hello! I am Santisha Walker. I am a Registered Nurse, entrepreneur, author, and speaker. I believe the nurse’s compassion and unparalleled ability to serve, paired with utilizing critical thinking, innovative ideas, and leadership skills, puts nurses in a unique position in healthcare, as well as our evolving society. I welcome a nontraditional approach to serving others and embrace entrepreneurship as a nurse. This unique path of serving allows me to avail myself to the opportunity to be creative and still operate within the nursing profession. I enjoy connecting with the hearts and minds of those desiring to step outside of their comfort zone and live their best life, making their own impact and serving others through their gifts, skills, and knowledge.
What’s your STEM story?
SW: My STEM journey is one that I did not intentionally set out to travel. Upon graduating high school in 2001, I was unsure of exactly what I wanted to major in, but I knew I desired to acquire the knowledge to find a stable job and make a decent living. Therefore, I chose to major in Business Administration, with a Marketing concentration. Little did I know that during my junior year of college I would experience a “spark” within that turned my attention toward nursing (from a couple of conversations I had with my good friend’s roommate and her best friend who were nursing majors). At that time, I had already been accepted into the Bryan School of Business at The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG) and was preparing to graduate the following year, so I chose to continue with my business degree. However, I could never shake the feeling of that small fire that had been ignited within me. I did not share this feeling with anyone, especially being surrounded by business majors on campus. After graduating college, I landed a job in the insurance industry as a Sales Support Associate and within 6 months was promoted to a Benefits Advisor. I stayed in the Benefits Advisor / Accounts Manager role for 3 years until one day I mentioned to my husband, mom, and oldest sister my desire to pursue that small fire that was still burning within me and go back to school for nursing. I received immediate encouragement. It felt like there was a calling towards the nursing field and little did I know that when I had a conversation with my dad about my pursuit of nursing, he reminded me that my grandmother (who I never had the pleasure of meeting due to her passing) was a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) desiring to become an RN. I also have an aunt that is a CNA and loves serving in the medical field! I immediately knew why that spark was initially lit and the fire never went out! I was being passed the torch!
I took my pre-requisite classes seriously and was accepted into the nursing program at Wake Technical Community College in 2011. I received hands-on clinical experience within 2 weeks of being in the program, and the support from faculty and staff was second to none. I worked as a CNA under emergency services at a local trauma level hospital during nursing school. Upon graduating in 2013 with my Associate in Applied Science Degree in Nursing, I received a job at that same hospital on a cardiac intermediate step-down unit. This experience was invaluable and gave me the foundation I needed to sharpen my nursing skills. I transitioned out of the hospital setting and moved into an ambulatory private practice neurology setting. This is where I learned more intimate interaction and communication healthcare skills, along with post hospitalized care team coordination.
During this time, I decided to pursue an advanced degree and attended Gardner Webb University to obtain my Master of Science (MSN) in Nursing Administration. While completing my thesis, I worked as a contract nurse on a pro re nata (PRN) (as needed) basis bedside in skilled nursing facilities. Upon graduating in 2017, I worked as a Director of Patient Care Services for a home care agency, then a Nurse Supervisor for an assisted living facility. While working in management, I wanted to maintain a PRN contract position with a local agency to upkeep my bedside skills as a nurse. At the end of 2019, I transitioned fully to working as a contract nurse in skilled nursing facilities for more schedule flexibility. Little did we know that the pandemic would strike and there would be a flood of additional needs and opportunities for nurses. After assisting agencies with shortages in local facilities, I partnered with my husband to utilize my business degree, nurse management and nurse agency knowledge, and his business and contract knowledge, to start our own nurse staffing agency, Walker Group Nurse Staffing. We take a boutique staffing agency approach to focus on the placement of quality and knowledge staff. As a nurse, I have enjoyed combining my business knowledge, nursing expertise, and my management skills and knowledge to serve as a healthcare professional in unconventional ways!
You are a Nursepreneur, coach, author, and speaker! People often see the glory, but don’t know the story. Tell us more about your business(es) and what challenges, if any, you have faced along your journey.
SW: In 2016, I launched Walker Group Health & Wellness (WGHW), a boutique consulting company providing customized health and wellness education for groups, organizations, the community, and families. The launch of WGHW was the very beginning of my entrepreneurial journey. It allowed me to really dive deep into wellness and essentially led me to even more endeavors as a healthcare professional. Since then, I have launched my own brand as a nurse entrepreneur, author, and speaker, all while focusing on educating and empowering others to live their best life through health and wellness.
I have also partnered with my husband to start a nurse staffing agency providing dependable and knowledgeable nurses, certified nursing assistants, and other paraprofessionals to healthcare facilities experiencing a shortage of staff. My most recent endeavor has been the release of fitness, athleisure, and empowerment apparel paired with wellness resources and community support through The I AM Experience. Each of these undertakings brought their own unique challenges. But I will say that the one underlying challenge was sticking with the vision for each endeavor in spite of what was going on around me.
For example, in 2016, nurses stepping into the entrepreneurial realm was not as popular as it is today. But, due to the challenges that came to the forefront in bedside nursing during the pandemic, many nurses sought, and still are seeking, ways to utilize their nursing knowledge and skills, continue their passion of helping others, and continue to make a decent living beyond the traditional clinical setting. Now being deemed a “nursepreneur” is trendy and there are many articles and resources highlighting the ability of nurses to become successful as business owners and entrepreneurs. Although stepping outside of the “traditional role of a nurse” was a bit scary at first because I thought my colleagues and the world would not see me as a “real nurse”, I took the leap. I have not looked back since, and I have no regrets for my decision. One of the beautiful things about being a nurse is our ability to offer our skillset, knowledge, and ideas in every industry and setting. In spite of the world still wanting to box us in at times and view us in a traditional light, we are Bonafide leaders. We are an essential part of society, and we are still the most trusted profession for a reason!
Santisha holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Business Administration, an Associate in Applied Science Degree in Nursing, a Master of Science Degree in Nursing Administration, and is Certified as a Wellness Coach. Santisha helps transition individuals from stagnation to operating as the best version of themselves inside out. Her life’s work is empowering those she interacts with to intentionally achieve their life’s goals, succeed in their health, and live an overall well life; therefore, she offers practical guidance and reliable resources to help them along their journey. Santisha has inspired and encouraged individuals from all walks of life. As a nurse she has experience in cardiac, neurology, long-term care, rehabilitation, assisted living, home care, community health, management level nursing, and now serves as a nurse entrepreneur. and wellness has allowed her to connect with those wanting to thrive in their personal life and operate beyond their comfort zone. Santisha believes in giving back and also serves others through authorship. She has an inspirational book for nurses thrusting them into realizing their dream entitled, “Stethoscope and A DREAM: A Victorious Nurse Anthology”. She has written an e-book offering lifestyle balance resources that have assisted along her entrepreneurial journey entitled, “Your 30-Day Guide To Balanced Living As You Build Your Nursing Brand“. When Santisha is not dedicating her time to educating and serving as a healthcare professional, she enjoys spending quality time, including traveling, with her husband of 15 years, spending time with family and her close sister-friends, and indulging in intentional self-care moments, such as massage therapy, music therapy, prayer, scripture reading, and working out. (Photo Credit: Courtney Renee Photography )