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By 2025, the American Association of Colleges of Nursing expects that the United States nursing shortage will grow to 260,000 registered nurses.
“There’s a huge nursing shortage, and on a daily basis, we do not have the nurses to meet the demand locally or nationally,” Dan Latham, CEO of Pulse Medical Staffing, says. “The challenges of the nursing field have definitely changed over the 20 years I’ve been a nurse.”
As Baby Boomers age and the need for health care grows, medical staffing companies like Columbia’s Pulse provide temporary aid to health care facilities while building a profitable, community-oriented business focused on the nurses that keep it running.
Latham never expected to win an award, let alone receive a legislative proclamation honoring his business. Yet he was recently honored with the MU Extension’s Small Business and Technology Development Centers Rising Star Award.
The Columbia business owner is one of 13 recipients in the state to win the award through the SBTDC.
“Small businesses like these exceptional firms are the true engine of economic growth in Missouri,” says SBTDC State Director Chris Bouchard. “These individuals work hard every day to bring opportunity and prosperity to their community, and this award is just a small measure of recognition for their outstanding efforts.”
Companies throughout Missouri taking advantage of SBTDC counseling went through a meticulous selection process after their SBTDC counselor’s nomination. The process dissected each firm’s economic impact, involvement in the community, and exceptionalism. According to Missouri Business, the statewide SBTDC offices helped create or retain 24,180 jobs, increase sales by $439 million, acquire new investments of $419.6 million, and win government contracts totaling $1.4 billion from 2013 through 2015.
On March 23, the SBTDC held the local Excellence in Business Award ceremony to introduce previous winners of the Rising Star award and to present the 2016 award to Latham.
“The event is an opportunity to showcase a client that we’ve worked with, as well as discuss what the SBTDC does and give examples of the wide variety of business that we work with,” says SBTDC Director Virginia Wilson. “We’ve worked with anything from technology businesses to restaurants.”
With sales growing nearly 100 percent each year since 2013, Pulse Medical Staffing is a financial archetype of success. After seeing a need for a medical staffing agency focused on clients and employees, Latham founded Pulse to be a staffing company run by a medical professional (Latham is a former EMT and nurse).
Latham’s business provides temporary medical staffing to health care facilities nationwide, including hospitals, surgery centers, and nursing homes. Counseled by Wilson, Latham learned how to run a business through trial and error.
“He’s had his challenges, as any startup business owner does,” Wilson says. “It’s really something that he loves. I think, with many business owners, if you don’t have a passion for it, it’s really hard to make it work because it really does take so much from you.”
At their main office in Columbia, the Pulse staff stays active in the community.
“We have volunteers within our staff and even our office that adopted a roundabout about four years ago in northeast Columbia that they water, mow, and weed,” Latham says. “We also make donations to the food bank program in the area.”
The company employs over 200 temporary nurses nationwide, all of whom have one non-negotiable trait: adaptability.
“They are 100 percent totally awesome and committed,” Latham says. “It takes a special person to do what they do on a daily basis. If you think about going into your job every day and having every day be a new job, that’s how I instruct everyone to do their job.”
The need for companies like Pulse continues to grow as the ongoing nursing shortage reaches its highest levels. While the patient-to-nurse ratio increases, the American Association of Colleges of Nursing is developing legislation and strategies to address the shortage.
“You know, it was very surreal for me. I didn’t ever expect to win the [Rising Star] award,” Latham says. “Our doors have been open since 2010, and you hear about these businesses [not] making it past their two year mark, and we’re going on our six year mark. So it’s like, ‘Wow, we’re doing okay and we’re making it.’”