How One Nursepreneur Pivoted from ICU to Digital Products: The Creative Behind ScrubLifeNotes

After a night shift in the ICU, Lauren Douglass, MSN, APRN, FNP-BC, didn’t change out of her scrubs. She was gaining momentum on her passion project. 

She sat on the couch that morning unable to let go of her idea until she saw something come to fruition. She had been making illustrated nursing notes for years but never thought they were for anyone else’s eyes; except maybe a coworker or two. 

Wanting to get started right away, she needed a name for her new Etsy shop. “I can just change the name later. It doesn’t have to be that serious,” she told herself. “Then I came up with the name ScrubLifeNotes. I was wearing scrubs, I thought ‘This is my life’, and ‘These are my notes,’” she jokes. The name stuck. And, the notes took off.

What is ScrubLifeNotes?

Douglass was an ICU nurse for five years before leaving the bedside last March to focus on her business. 

Today, ScrubLifeNotes offers a variety of nursing notes, like:

  • EKG rhythm recognition and interpretation
  • New to ICU packet
  • Ventilation fast facts
  • Fluids and electrolytes
  • And more

The best-selling nurse digital product from the ScrubLifeNotes shop is the ICU packet, which features the wisdom Douglass wants to impart to other nurses from her time working bedside. “I love supporting new grads,” Douglass shares, “I remember that transition very well.”

Douglass designs each set of notes, including the verbiage and the graphics. She manages her online shop, prints, and packs orders as a one-woman show – sometimes with the help of her husband, whom she refers to as her “unpaid intern” in jest.

Why did you start a business?

While working in the ICU, Douglass created notes to help her remember helpful tips and tricks. “There’s just some things they don’t really teach you in nursing school,” she explains. After she had been a nurse for about three years, she showed someone her notes, and they were astounded by the quality and aesthetic. 

Douglass decided maybe her notes would be useful for other people. “Then I started releasing them into the wild.” After she created the aforementioned Etsy shop, her first big product was the EKG interpretation packet, inspired by a test she had to take as a new grad as part of her ICU orientation. 

Douglass says that after having the Etsy shop for about three years, it took off. Thanks to social media, especially Instagram and TikTok, business is booming, and sales are exploding. She describes her passionate mentality, “I was happy to help even just one person with my notes.”

What’s it like being a nurse entrepreneur? 

Being a nurse entrepreneur is a strange space to be in. You tell people you’re a nurse, and they have an image of what you can and should do. Then you tell them you’re a nurse entrepreneur or a nurse business owner, and they’re confused about how that works, Douglass explains. 

“The role that I’m in, I’ve created the niche and navigated into it. I created something that I would use. I made it for myself at first, inspired by the steep learning curve of working in the ICU.” Because Douglass started with a product that she found useful, the idea seemingly translated into a product-based business. Douglass enjoys being a nurse entrepreneur because she stands by her product and knows she puts her all into it. 

“I acutely understood the vision and the value. Not everyone always got it. But I knew it would blow up,” she asserts.

How do you handle competitors? 

It’s no secret the market is saturated with digital products. Get-rich-quick schemes and social media guru courses in the ‘making money online’ niche are very prevalent right now. Often, these digital products are made with little effort or are copycats of other people’s hard work.

Douglass shares how easy it is to sell digital products once you have a platform. There’s a mentality that “I only have to sell X products in order to make my rent.” Social media platforms are much more accessible right now. 

“Lots of people are good-intentioned with making digital products. But it dilutes my value when I see masses of people making low-quality products, especially when they’re AI-generated with factual inaccuracies,” Douglass explains. Douglass’ least favorite part about being an entrepreneur is spending time and energy on copyright infringement disputes.

What advice do you have for up-and-coming nurse entrepreneurs? 

“No one knows the profession better than nurses,” Douglass states, “If you find something helpful to you in your daily life, I guarantee, 100% it will be helpful for someone else. It took me way too long to realize that. I sat with these notes for years, thinking they were just for me.”

One of her biggest pieces of advice is to believe in yourself and your business. Because people may not understand what you’re doing, you are the person who has to believe in it. “Just start,” she urges. “Tell yourself your first product is not your last. It’s not your end-all-be-all product. We are often perfectionists as nurses, but what’s more important is starting. Each iteration will be better with time. Look at the iPhone. The one we use today isn’t anything like the first one that came out.” 

Final Thoughts

In summary, Douglass recommends you trust yourself and your knowledge, believe in your product or business, and understand there’s no better time to start than today.
Want to connect with other entrepreneurs and learn more about nurse entrepreneurship? Check out the Nurse Fern LinkedIn Light-Up Course to learn more about honing your social media presence.