This year, Okanagan Edge and the Kelowna Chamber of Commerce have partnered to showcase some of the Okanagan’s most exciting entrepreneurs, through the Top 40 Under 40 program.
Sponsored by BDO, the Top 40 Under 40 recognizes innovative young professionals in our community and showcases their accomplishments.
Okanagan Edge will feature a new honouree each week, so check back often.
This week we recognize Vannessa Fowler, a nurse and advocate who owns and runs a patient advocacy business.
After working as a registered nurse for more than a decade, Vannessa Fowler saw a problem in our healthcare system—so she decided to do what she could to fix it.
“Over my nursing career I have seen so many patients get lost in our healthcare system and fall through the cracks,” she says. “I witnessed a huge need for so many people requiring someone to advocate on their behalf or they likely wouldn’t get the help they needed.”
So, in 2014, she created her own patient care advocacy business. For the first year, Nightingale Patient Care Advocacy worked pro bono, mostly for seniors who couldn’t afford Fowler’s services.
Fowler says her goal was to help educate people, letting them know and understand the steps to advocate for themselves.
In 2015 she moved to Kelowna, where she continued to grow her business. Then, a member of her family died from a drug overdose and Fowler found herself advocating for her own daughter, who was struggling with mental health issues.
That time brought Fowler to a realization.
“I realized how little help our community has in relation to the people who are suffering from mental health and addictions,” she says.
So she incorporated a lobbying aspect into her business to try and help address that. Since then, she’s spoken at PAC conferences to teach parents how to advocate for their kids; and offered free workshops teaching people how to advocate for themselves.
She’s also in the middle of launching a new course that will help teach parents how to navigate the healthcare system.
“I have dedicated a lot of volunteer hours to helping patients find their voice. I have managed to incorporate my vision into a successful business and I hope to find more RNs who wish to do the same,” Fowler says.
She says her plan moving forward is to start franchising Nightingale Patient Care Advocacy, making it the first patient advocacy franchise in Canada.
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