Today we’d like to introduce you to Sharon Fisher.
Hi Sharon, please kick things off for us with an introduction to yourself and your story.
I can not say I had a master plan. I never have. I pursue the things that interest me in a way that is financially practical. After a brief stint as a fisheries biologist, I became a nurse. The ability to do meaningful work helping people, as well as the flexibility, appealed to me. I started my nursing career at Johns Hopkins Hospital and was placed on the Cardiac Progressive Care Unit after telling the nurse recruiter: “Put me where the greatest need is.” I am certainly not suggesting this as a way to approach all employment, but I was interested in so many things, it was nice to have someone else choose. When I was there, they paid for education. Therefore, I pursued my master’s. At that time, most of my patients were admitted for cardiac bypass surgery. Many of them did not understand that a lifetime of eating fast food and smoking would land them in the hospital. I decided to become an Adult Nurse Practitioner to catch people “upstream.” I wanted to work in prevention and help people create healthy lifestyles mitigating the risk of heart disease and diabetes.
My first job out of graduate school was creating a wellness and prevention program embedded in a Community Psychiatry Clinic. This involved program development needs assessment, creating relationships and community building, research, as well as some lobbying work to secure sustainable payment methods. It afforded me great diversity in my work–no 2 days looked the same–as well as opportunities to be creative and grow my career. While there, I realized that even though I was focusing on physical health issues, I would benefit from a better understanding of mental illness. Back to school, I went for a post master’s certificate as a Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP).
I soon fell in love with psychiatric work. Eventually, I switched over to exclusively doing mental health care. During that time period, my husband and I were trying to have our first child and meeting lots of challenges. People kept saying I was too old. However, at 34, most of my circle was older than me when they started their families. More importantly, every doctor we met with affirmed 35 was not a “fertility cliff” despite what the media said. Over dinner one night, my friend mused that it would be great to have a book that actually supported “older” moms. The next day, I proposed we write one. Thus, my writing career was born. Five years later, we published Beyond The Egg Timer: A Companion Guide For Having Babies in Your Mid-Thirties and Older. Again, I had never envisioned writing a self-help book. It was incredibly cathartic. I fell in love with writing in general and eventually became a paid columnist for a sailing magazine (but that is its own story).
In 2015, I stopped working completely to stay at home with my first child. After a year, I had to return to the workforce but wanted to do so part-time and in the most flexible way possible. Therefore, I joined a group practice. Honestly, it was not ideal. I like doing a variety of things in my workday and this was strictly seeing patients. After much thought and consultation with others, I decided to start my own practice.
Nurtured Well, LLC was born! While I had been trying to conceive, I swore I would someday give back to the infertility community, which had supported me so much. Therefore, I knew helping women with infertility would be a focus. I had also suffered from postpartum anxiety so was passionate about helping new moms. I had learned from others that “niching”your practice as much as possible upped its chances for success. When I stepped back, I thought of all the amazing women in my life- old, young, single, partnered, childless by choice or circumstance, and those with children as well. That is whom I wanted to work with.
Now I get to! I started the only private women’s mental health practice in our area. I also get to be home with my children as well. Having my own practice has allowed me the flexibility to be home two days a week and really engage in parenting the way I want to. Lots of hands on time and the freedom to chaperone field trips. It also fills that need of having variety in my work day. I love seeing my clients. I also love the creativity involved in building and growing a practice. I am always learning. Sometimes, it’s about the latest advances in women’s mental health. Other times, it’s the best way to do payroll or SEO. No, I did not foresee this nor always dream of having my own practice or being a paid author. I opened myself to the possibilities and pursued them.
We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
My road has had many bumps! Let’s start with the book. We wrote it when my co-author had young kids at home and we were both working full time. It took us five years but we persisted. We diligently tried to find an agent. (An agent gets you to a publisher). We got to the point where we were grateful for personalized rejection letters instead of form ones. Early on, we were told we needed a social media following so we started blogging. One agent said, in response to our 70,000 followers, to call her back when we were at 100,000. We ultimately went with a hybrid press which was not cheap but was worth it and got the book out.
As for Nurtured Well, LLC, it was a slow start. I had to keep my other job while I was growing it. I also had painfully little child care. I remember at one point, bringing them with me (ages 3 and 1) to the bank when I was trying to get the best business account. That was harrowing to say the least. The biggest hurdle was that between the two jobs and my kids, I never was alone. I could not afford financially or time-wise to even go to a yoga class.
I also had to learn everything myself. I am a Luddite by nature and there is a surprising amount of technical prowess needed for a mental health practice. With the help of some friends, I was able to ultimately build my own website, write code for an IVR phone system, and figure out POS billing systems. Ultimately, I loved the challenge all of this presented and I’m definitely on better terms with my laptop now.
The biggest challenge was Covid. Literally overnight, I had to move the practice completely online. Initially, I was running on adrenaline. As a nurse, I am good in emergencies. I was able to focus well on my patients’ care and my children’s wellbeing. However, providing care in a trauma that I am part of was a novel experience and the emotional toll eventually caught up. With time, I am healing but it was a lot.
Thanks – so what else should our readers know about Nurtured Well?
Nurtured Well, LLC is the premier private women’s mental health practice in the greater Baltimore area. We provide unparalleled care steeped in radical compassion and evidence-based practices. Every detail is thought out with our clients in mind. Our Nurse Practitioners are passionate about helping women live their best, most authentic lives. We have a real sense of what it is like to be a woman in this world and offer care through that lens.
Beyond The Egg Timer: A Companion Guide For Having Babies in Your Mid-Thirties and Older is like no other book on the market. Other books tell you how to get pregnant or highlight one woman’s story. BTET shares the narrative of 12 unique women and offers coping advice for the journey. Every woman’s process is different and we wanted to honor that. It was a passion project, our gift to other “AMA” moms.
Networking and finding a mentor can have such a positive impact on one’s life and career. Any advice?
I asked several business owners for advice while considering starting my practice. I specifically picked people whose practices ranged from one-woman shows to multi-site clinics. I wanted to get a range of experiences. They were not all mental health-specific. I think that is important because it helped me think more broadly about what I wanted. Oftentimes, people in specific professions can not see past what has always been done in that area. I invited them to lunch (which I paid for) and had a setlist of questions. It is important to honor their time. For networking, go where your clients go! Speak to the people who interact with them in other aspects of their lives.
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Website: https://nurtured-well.com/
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/beyond_the_egg_timer/
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Nurtured-Well-LLC-111365943870222/
- Other: https://www.amazon.com/Beyond-Egg-Timer-Companion-Mid-Thirties/dp/0999195875