Hamilton Herald Masthead


Front Page - Friday, April 21, 2023

Nurse practitioner/Realtor? Why not

Bakland juggles two demanding careers at once

Nurse practitioner Sherri Bakland is casting a small net as a Realtor. But even within her limited scope of work, she’s finding a purpose in the profession. - Photograph provided

For many Realtors, real estate is an all-in proposition. They commit to long hours, longer weeks and scant vacation time to build a successful business.

For other agents, real estate is one of multiple streams of income and, therefore, a part-time endeavor.

Sherri Bakland occupies the latter camp. As a nurse practitioner with Erlanger Hospital, she works 10 hours days four days a week to help support her family.

But Bakland, 36, also is a licensed Realtor who’s plowed through the onboarding process and is ramping up her business. She earned her credentials, became a member of Greater Chattanooga Realtors, hung her license at Keller Williams Greater Chattanooga Realty and is availing herself of every class her brokerage offers new agents.

“When I have a day off, I take a class,” Bakland says by phone. “That’s what drew me to Keller Williams. They do a great job of educating their agents.”

One such class taught Bakland that an agent’s sphere – the people they know and the people who know them – is their lifeblood in the business. But her sphere is intentionally small; it consists primarily of her parents.

Bakland’s father is the one who encouraged her to obtain a real estate license, she explains. An orthodontist by trade, he also invests in rental properties. When Bakland would join him on his excursions to locate houses to purchase, she discovered she enjoyed the hunt.

“It was a hobby at first and then he encouraged me to become licensed so I could handle the sales,” Bakland recalls. “I said, ‘No, I’m not going to pursue something that labor intensive,’ but I’m a glutton for punishment, so here we are.”

There was one potential pitfall – Bakland’s long shifts in Erlanger’s emergency rooms. Until a few months ago, she was working 12 hours at a time, which would have left little room in her schedule for even a part-time pursuit.

But she found a way.

“I’ve been taking my parents to see houses once or twice a week on my days off. And my first potential purchase is pending. Thankfully, it fell on an off stretch. We’re going back and forth with paperwork and will hopefully wrap it up before my next set of shifts begins.”

Bakland says she quickly discovered a key similarity between her work as a nurse and her efforts as a Realtor – the relationships she’s able to develop with people.

She also found one significant way in which real estate trumps nursing, she says. “I love being able to drive around and see sunshine and walk outside the confines of the ER. Seeing daylight has been delightful.”

The ability to stretch her legs as she and her father scoured the Chattanooga area for properties was a joy, Bakland adds, until she had a head-on collision with one of the hard realities of real estate – contracts.

“Some background in contract law would’ve been helpful,” she says laughs.

A Calhoun, Georgia, native, Bakland initially moved to Chattanooga for nursing school. After she entered the local workforce, she continued to pursue higher and higher levels of education, including a master’s degree in nursing at Southern Adventist University.

“Every three years, I have to do something different,” she laughs. “Historically, that’s meant the next degree or the next certification. I’m actually dual board-certified in family and emergency medicine. I told dad, ‘It’s time to scratch the itch, but I’m running out of things to study in nursing, so let’s try something else.”

That something was real estate. Although Bakland originally wanted it to be a family affair, she’s learned her sphere is larger than she initially thought – and it’s calling.

“I do have a pretty awesome sphere made up of the co-workers and the people I come in contact with every day. They’re already starting to ask if I’m available – and I’d love to be able to help them with their needs.

“I do want to help people outside of my family – and it seems like that’s going be necessary to make the financial side of my business work. Getting started was a significant investment and I need to be able to make it profitable enough to justify the ongoing cost.”

While Bakland’s fellow Realtors have encouraged her to do real estate her way, they’ve also given her doses of reality, she says.

“They’ve told me finding clients and being profitable will more difficult. But no one has said it’ll be impossible. No one has said, ‘You’re going to fail.’

“You reap what you sow in real estate, so as long as you give it the effort it deserves, then you can make it worthwhile.”

Bakland will soon have another plate to spin, as she and her husband are expecting their first child. The couple have been married for 15 years and lives in Apison, where they purchased a house in the midst of the pandemic and moved in the week of the 2020 tornadoes.

“That was a whole other real estate adventure,” she says without trying to mask her sarcasm.

Bakland’s voice brightens again as she returns to her current undertaking. While adding a second career hasn’t been easy – especially one as competitive and labor-intensive as real estate can be – she’s not feeling the kind of pressure she says she’s heard other new agents experience.

“I’m not as hungry to make my first sale because I still have my full-time job. I’m just getting my feet wet and slowly figuring things out and hopefully will become a good agent.”

The only question that remains is: What’s the next itch to be scratched?

“Good question. I’ve thought about investing in real estate myself. We’ll see what happens with our family and where this business takes us.”