Currently, there are more than 3.8 million registered nurses in the United States. However, only 85% of them are employed in nursing, and a few thousand are about to retire. Considering these facts, it's not surprising that many hospitals are forced to hire external help, as they cannot cover all the work with their own staff. The good news is that you could start a nursing recruitment agency even with little or no money and help medical professionals save lives.


Whether you open a nursing agency franchise, take ownership of an existing agency or start from scratch, there are ways to secure funding. Depending on your needs, you can reach out to private investors, get a small business loan or apply for grants from government agencies.

Learn About the Industry

The nursing industry is changing at a fast pace. Technological innovation, medical advances and government regulations are shaping this industry. A growing number of medical settings are now offering telehealth and remote nursing services or investing in artificial intelligence to streamline patient care. Modern nurses are required to adapt and keep up with these changes so they can thrive in their profession.

Although nurses make up the largest part of the health care industry, this profession continues to face shortages. The aging population as well as the aging workforce and nurse burnout all play a role. Additionally, many of those who embrace this career path are women, and they may leave the profession or take a break during their childbearing years to build a family. This industry also has high turnover rates.

Now is a good time to start a nursing recruitment agency, as this industry will continue to grow over the coming years. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment of registered nurses is estimated to increase by a staggering 12% between 2018 and 2028 due to the rising rates of chronic illnesses and the growing number of baby boomers looking for quality medical services. The accelerated retirement rates among registered nurses will further increase the demand for qualified RNs.

Responsibilities of an Agency RN

Before starting a nursing agency, make sure you know what is required from an agency RN. Those who embrace this profession often wear many hats, juggling the needs of their patients with the requirements of working in unfamiliar settings. They not only have to balance their personal and professional lives but also adapt rapidly to new environments and new routines. Agency nurses must have the ability to form relationships quickly, work well on their own as well as with a team and anticipate the needs of their patients.

As a nursing recruitment agency, you will provide qualified staff to private clinics, hospitals, medical offices and individuals who need specialized care. The state of Florida, for example, states that a nurse registry (which is just another name for a nurse staffing agency) means any person who offers or attempts to secure health-care-related contracts for RNs, certified nursing assistants, companions, licensed practical nurses and other professionals who work in this field. Those employed by nursing agencies work as independent contractors and receive a fee for their services.

An agency nurse has the same responsibilities as a registered nurse working in a medical setting. The difference is that she will work on a contract basis. Depending on the job, she may need to relocate to a new city for a couple of months, work in unfamiliar settings and familiarize herself quickly with the local policies and regulations. These professionals may also be required to supervise less-experienced nurses, handle administrative tasks and educate their patients on disease prevention and management.

Nursing Agency Cost Requirements

Before drafting your business plan, assess the capital needed to start and run a nursing agency. To do that, you first need to choose a business model. Do you plan to start from scratch or find a nurse staffing agency for sale and take ownership of it? If you choose the latter option, search for agencies that already have a customer base and a good reputation.

Another option is to open a nursing agency franchise. Accessible Home Health Care, for example, requires an initial investment of $125,000 and sufficient funds to cover living expenses during the first six months of business. Nurse Next Door, another popular franchise, involves an initial investment of $55,000, an $8,000 technology startup fee plus additional fees for branding, marketing, training, legal assistance, accreditation and more. Depending on the agency’s location and needs, you can expect to pay anywhere between $105,100 and $199,400.

Research the available financing options and decide how you want to proceed. As a startup founder, you can apply for small business loans, reach out to private investors, search for grants offered by local and state government agencies or use your personal savings. You may also contact private organizations, such as GUD Capital and Clear Skies Capital, that offer loans for health care agencies. Clear Skies Capital, for instance, provides merchant cash advances, lines of credit and working capital loans of $5,000 to $2 million.

Business Licenses and Accreditations

As an entrepreneur, you already know that any business should be registered with the state, have a tax ID number and comply with the law. What you may not know about are the business licenses, permits and accreditations you need at the local level since each state has different regulations. Illinois, for example, requires nursing agencies to be licensed under the act by the Department of Labor, and separate applications must be submitted for each location. In addition to a nursing agency license, you also need a general business license.

The owner of a nursing staffing agency doesn't need formal training or higher education. However, all nurses employed by the agency must be fully licensed and accredited. To stay on the safe side, work with nurses holding a CPR certificate, first-aid certifications and food-handler certifications. Also, consider your agency's insurance requirements, which may include professional insurance, theft and property damage insurance, liability insurance and more.

Consider getting certified by an established organization, such as the Joint Commission. This can help you build trust with your clients and demonstrate your commitment to a high standard of services. Additionally, it shows that you are following the best industry practices.

Plan Your Business

Your business plan for starting a nursing recruitment agency should also cover organizational and strategic aspects. Decide whether you will work from home or set up a physical office, who will be in charge of what and how you'll screen and interview candidates. Are you going to handle everything on your own or hire employees? How much do you plan to charge for your services, and how will you pay the nurses employed by your agency?

Consider these factors when writing your business plan. Also, think about how you want to promote your nursing recruitment agency and reach out to potential clients. Focus on building connections in the local health care community. Contact private and public hospitals, clinics, medical offices, nursing homes and other health care settings that may need your services.

Set up a website for your nursing agency and promote it online via sponsored ads targeted at a local audience. List your company in local business directories, send out press releases and distribute brochures in hospitals and clinics. Attend health care events and conferences to network and build relationships with prospective clients. Give away branded merchandise, such as personalized pens, notebooks, ice and heat packs, pill boxes and other items engraved with your agency's logo and contact information.