Ruth Oshikanlu: Multipotential Nurse Entrepreneur

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Ruth Oshikanlu

“I’ve made a business out of caring; wherever I see that there is a gap or an unmet need, I create a service for it. Too many people are underserved. We call them hard-to-reach but actually, it’s the services that are not reaching them the way they want to be served. As a caring professional, you may be wondering what you could do to prevent burnout. Why not identify an unmet problem, devise a solution and use your expertise to launch your own business?” – Ruth Oshikanlu

 

During a lavish ceremony held at Buckingham Palace, on 2 May 2019, the Duke of Cambridge, Prince William, decorated a dazzling and beaming Dr Ruth Oluwatosin Oshikanlu with the award of “Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (MBE)”. This was in recognition of her exceptional services to community nursing, children and families in the United Kingdom and beyond.

 

Earlier in March, she was named “Health Professional Woman of The Year” at the DIVAS of Colour International Awards, held to celebrate professional and entrepreneurial Black women and other women of colour around the world.  Towards the end of the same 2019, the London South Bank University (founded in 1892) conferred her with a Honorary Doctorate Degree in Health and Social Care, for her distinguished accomplishments in healthcare and social work.

 

Oshinkalu is currently one of the most sought-after independent nurse consultants within and outside the United Kingdom. Since she braved the odds in 2008 to quit public service in the British NHS, due to what she considered a stifling and toxic work environment, she has masterfully reinvented herself to become a widely-acclaimed, multi-specialist nurse entrepreneur.

 

For the purpose of clarity, a nurse entrepreneur is a nurse who uses his or her expertise to build a healthcare-focused business or chain of businesses. According to the Registered Nurses Association of British Columbia, a nurse entrepreneur is “a proprietor of a business that offers nursing services of a direct care, educational, research, administrative or consultative nature.

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The industrious and indefatigable Oshikanlu is the embodiment of all the above and so much more. Aside from being a Queen’s Nurse (QN) – a title usually awarded to those who have demonstrated the very highest standards of patient-centred care – she is also a midwife and health visitor, with vast experience in delivering secondary and primary healthcare services in the public, voluntary and independent sectors.

 

Oshikanlu is particularly passionate about outcomes for children and families and reducing health inequalities. She was involved in developing the recent Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) pathway for The Department of Health/Public Health England for health visitors and school nurses. She is also a member of the Chief Nursing Officer Black and Minority Ethnic Advisory Group and uses these roles to influence policy and raise professional standards. Once a year, she travels to West African countries, including Nigeria, to share expertise with nurses and midwives in perinatal mental health

Purpose-driven multipotentialite

Oshikanlu is an expert in the delivery of projects that meet the needs of vulnerable and socially excluded groups, including pregnant women with HIV, pregnant teenagers and teenage parents, families of children subject to child protection plans, and young people living in deprived localities. She is also a champion for nurses, midwives and health visitors, enabling her colleagues to be better practitioners, who are delivering excellent standards of care to the women and children they serve.

 

A seasoned and prolific writer, Oshikanlu has penned over 50 articles in several nursing and healthcare journals that inspire health professionals to maximise their potentials and be proactive about finding solutions to problems. She is also a celebrated inspirational speaker, mentor and life coach. She is a guest lecturer at several universities and speaker at various health and business conferences.

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Oshikanlu is the author of the best-selling book, Tune In To Your Baby: Because Babies Don’t Come with An Instruction Manual. It is a holistic self-help parenting book that promotes maternal and infant mental health.  She is also the chief executive officer of Goal Mind, a coaching consultancy that she started in 2008 to help individuals and businesses improve their performance. According to her, “recognising that the greatest asset of any business is their people, we uncover their key motivators, analyse their motivations and coach them through to maximum performance.”. She equally runs a private practice supporting women who have had assisted conception or previous miscarriage to enjoy their pregnancy without fear.

 

Between 2020 and 2021, in order to celebrate what was described as “The Year of The Nurse & Midwife”, Oshinkalu created a programme called “Nurses & Midwives Talk”, to showcase the contribution of nurses and midwives, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. She interviewed 380 nurses and midwives from around the globe.

 Pedestals of success

Oshikanlu was born in the early ‘70s and raised in southwestern Nigeria. She was hugely influenced by her parents and grandmother, who often encouraged her to be strong and outstanding. As the first child and only daughter of three children, her nursing instincts began to bud as she cared for her younger brothers.  However, as one who was born for impact, she had to rebel against the wish of her father, who wanted her to study Medicine.

 

Having studied at Queens College, Lagos, she relocated to the UK at the age of 17. Oshikanlu initially did a diploma in computing and electronics, before being counselled by a career adviser to study Nursing. She obtained a diploma in Nursing Studies from Kings College, London in 1996. Thereafter, she obtained B.Sc. in Midwifery from University of West London in 1999, graduating with First Class Honours. In 2006, she obtained M.Sc. in Public Health from London South Bank University, also graduating with Distinction. Between 2011 and 2015, she obtained Postgraduate Diploma in Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship and, later MSc. in Social Innovation, from Buckinghamshire New University.

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Oshikanlu worked for a few years with the British National Health Service but had to quit because she always wanted more flexibility and innovativeness than the health service could provide. After an extensive period of soul-searching, she decided to set out on her own as a nurse entrepreneur. According to her, “I left the NHS because it was becoming very difficult to do my business well. Since, I left, I have been able to truly care for those I serve. One of my goals is to help other nurses to take the plunge into nurse entrepreneurship.”

Awards and recognitions

Oshinkalu’s exploits have earned her numerous health and business honours. Aside from her BME and QN titles,, she is also a Fellow of The Royal College of Nursing (2017) and Fellow of The Institute of Health Visiting (2015). She won the Nigerian Achievers Institute’s “Outstanding Entrepreneur Award” (2016), and the We Are The City’s “Rising Star Champion Award” (2017). In 2019, the first International Maternity (IME) Awards was held in West London.  There, she received a commendation in the International Inclusion Award category for her outstanding contribution to maternity and midwifery services for improving pregnancy outcomes women who feel marginalised or socially excluded. In 2020, she received the Lord Hastings Integrity Award from The Baton Awards, which recognise women from diverse racial groups in the UK who have demonstrated outstanding achievements.

 

 

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