Advance for Nurses
How one nurse has used nursing through several careers
By Sylvia Coleman
Lorna Owens, JD, BA, RN, CM, vividly remembers her decision to become a nurse as if it were yesterday. "I was 12 years old, and as I stood in a hallway of my house in Jamaica, I said to my mother, 'I want to be a lawyer,'" recalled Owens. Obviously unimpressed with her daughter's decision, Owens' mother calmly warned, "Lawyers don't go to heaven." "So, I found a profession where people went to heaven," said Owens, chuckling at the memory. And in 1975, at the age of 22, Owens graduated from a nursing school in her home country. A couple of years later, she landed a nursing position alongside a girlfriend who decided to seek job opportunities in the United States; but Owens could not shake the dreams she had of a career in the courtroom. "I never wanted to say, 'I should have, could have, would have,'" explained Owens. Having decided lawyers were "heaven-worthy" after all, Owens went back to school and obtained her law degree in 1991 from the University of Florida School of Law, Gainesville, FL.
A Rising Success Owens then worked for 3 years as an assistant district attorney for Janet Reno. However, her ambitions didn't stop there. She headed her own law practice until 1999. Since that time she has built up an impressive résumé — giving new meaning to the phrase, "wearing many hats." Under the umbrella of her new company, Positive Vibe in Miami Beach, FL, she became a professional speaker; executive coach; radio commentator; entertainment attorney; president of Positive Vibe Music, an independent record label; president of Zion Films, a film production company; and CEO and founder of a touring women's empowerment program called "And the Women Gather." I had the good fortune of meeting Owens last month in Baltimore, when she opened one of the plenary sessions at the African-American Women in Business Conference. A vivacious speaker, Owens immediately captivated her audience. In fact, attendees were talking about her presentation throughout our 3-day stint in "Charm City." Recently, I caught up with Owens by phone in New York, where she was prepping to woo another crowd before leaving for a speaking engagement in London. During the interview, Owens talked about her limitless self-motivation. "It doesn't matter how many times I have to reinvent myself. When I want to do something, I just do it, because I don't want regrets," explained the go-getter.
Still a Nurse Through it all, Owens said she has not regretted her decision to become a nurse. "I love nursing. I was excellent at it!" acknowledged Owens, which is why she has designed a special seminar for nurses and health care providers. Appropriately dubbed, "The Wounded Healer," this presentation explores how to identify and deal with burnout. The "Zone In" seminar is equally popular. "'Zone In' deals with how you can control your inner dialogue and your outer environment to take you from your present self to your desired self," Owens explained. So what advice does she give to aspiring nursing entrepreneurs? She advises nurses to expose themselves to opportunities outside of nursing to learn how popular trends will impact their potential businesses. Despite her whirlwind schedule, Owens is rarely without business-related reading material, and prescribes reading four books a week for the truly ambitious entrepreneur. During plane rides and layovers, Owens takes in everything from motivational books to the Wall Street Journal. "Once you're doing what you're passionate about, it's really not work," she noted. Contrary to popular belief, Owens said success can be taught and learned. "I don't focus necessarily on motivating people because that doesn't last. I want to change behavior because I truly believe it is something you learn; you have to teach it."
Coming Full Circle While Owens may wear many hats, there is one she never takes off. She is a nurse through every endeavor. "You will always take nursing with you. I have taken it and it has served me well," said Owens, who plans to take that knowledge with her as she embarks on transforming the world.
Sylvia Coleman is assistant editor at ADVANCE.