Mallory Buxton, BSN, RN
Founder, CEO of Solos- Concierge Nurse Patient Advocates
I was talking to a fellow nurse entrepreneur in the D.C. area today and I told her about the events leading up to my decision to start Solos. I got done and she said "Wow. I thought this was going to just be a Meet & Greet phone call, but I need to process all this. I have so many questions. You just dropped some bombs." It was the first time that I felt I had eloquently articulated my "story" of how Solos came to be and how it is still evolving today. I wish I would have recorded that phone call. I'll do my best to recount the story here:
How I Chose Nursing as My Profession:
In high school I decided I wanted to be a Physician Assistant, PA. I chose biology as my undergrad at South Dakota State University. Sometime between my high school graduation and the start of my freshmen year of college a seed of doubt was planted, "What if I don't get into PA school?" I decided to change my major to nursing/pre-PA so that if I didn't get into PA school I would still have a nursing career to fall back on. While in nursing school I discovered what a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist, CRNA, was. I thought this sounded pretty rad, so I decided that was going to be my goal. Before applying for CRNA graduate school, you need at least 1-2 years of ICU nursing experience. I worked in the cardiac ICU in Sioux Falls, SD for 3 years and continued in the medical surgical ICU in Phoenix for another year after moving to Arizona in 2014. As a nurse, I got bored easily and was never 100% fulfilled or happy with any area of nursing I pursued. Besides working in the ICU, I also got my chemotherapy certification and worked at 2 different outpatient chemotherapy centers, I taught nursing clinicals for my alma mater, and did float pool for one of Phoenix's largest hospital. My plan after moving to Arizona was to apply to CRNA school after getting settled in. In August 2015 I read Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki. After reading that book I knew I wouldn't be fulfilled no matter what area of nursing I went into or how many advanced degrees I accumulated. I had an innate drive to do something bigger than myself and I knew that to be truly happy I had to pursue it.
The Straw that Broke the Camel's Back:
While working in the medical surgical ICU in Phoenix in September of 2015 I received an admission from the ER of a patient with incredibly low blood pressure. He needed life saving vassopressor medication via an IV infusion. This is a basic standard of care and something ICU nurses do often. I was ready to administer the life saving medication when I realized I did not have an IV pump to give it. This is like asking a chef to make an omelette without a frying pan. You can't do it. I had the drug but did not have the necessary equipment to give it. This infuriated me, how can we give exceptional patient care if we don't even have an IV PUMP in the ICU of all places. Like, what the hell?! The supervisor on that day seemed to think that eating yogurt was more important than calling around and trying to help me find an IV pump for my patient. I was able to convince my comrades to help me find one and the patient was stable when I finished my shift that night. I was so pissed off though. Since when does snack time come before patient care? Not okay in Mal's book. The supervisor continued to think this wasn't a big deal after the patient was stabilized. So, I did what any irritated nurse would do: I went straight to the Chief Nursing Officer, CNO, to voice my opinion and recount the afternoon's events. The CNO was very understanding and seemed genuinely concerned and grateful that I brought the situation to her attention. I felt better that this major issue was brought to light with someone who had the power to do something about it.
The next week the head supervisor from the ICU (she was not working the day the incident happened) called me at home to revisit the situation and find out more about what happened. I dove into the details and gave a passionate recount. She was very polite and empathetic but it was clear that she had a separate agenda for the phone call. After I had told her what had happened with the patient, she gently reminded me that next time I had an issue I should follow the proper chain of command. It was inappropriate to jump directly to calling the Chief Nursing Officer that day; I should have spoken to the supervisor. I explained that the supervisor was well aware of the situation, but continued to eat her snack at the nurses station while I was scrambling to find an IV pump. And after we had found one, she did not make any attempt to notify the manager or director. That was why I took it upon myself to alert the CNO who had distinctly told us at the last unit meeting to call her "with anything." I thought this more than qualified as anything. The head supervisor continued to stress that it was inappropriate for me to make that call and that only a manager should report to the CNO. They have these chains of command set up for a reason and I was to follow them. I think I had steam coming out of my ears after she said. I was surprised that I was being reprimanded for trying to improve patient care. I started crying and raising my voice, "Since when does the chain of command matter when a patient's life is in danger? That was the last thing on my mind. And further more the supervisor on call was not taking any proactive steps to make sure this situation wouldn't happen again." I was so angry I was having trouble forming sentences. It just blew me away that we were even discussing this.
After I got off the phone I decided that I could not work at this hospital anymore because our values did not align. I had a new job within a month, October 2015, and I was fully committed to "starting something." My new job was a significant pay cut and it negatively affected the interest rate and terms on my home mortgage at time. I didn't care though, I just had to get out of that toxic environment. I didn't know what I was going to start, I just knew I had to do something more. I continued to listen to podcasts and read personal development material and in April of 2016 I got my idea to start a concierge nursing service from a podcast on my way to work. I said "YEP! That's what I'm going to do." I launched Solos in September of 2016.
Almost 2 years later, the universe has connected me with an amazing group of nurses and our goal is to end loneliness and help 1B people. We believe that no one should ever feel alone or afraid when having a medical procedure. I am so grateful for where this journey has taken me and I cannot wait to see what the future holds. In the words of Steve Jobs, "You can't connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something - your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever.Because believing that the dots will connect down the road will give you the confidence to follow your heart even when it leads you off the well worn path; and that will make all the difference.”
Mallory Buxton, BSN, RN
An entrepreneur & believer