As a nurse, it is natural to be drawn to other career pathways within the field, and at the same time follow your passion. Modern-day nursing does not have to be monotonous or limited to a hospital or clinic environment. Instead, it is diverse and offers a wide variety of options for registered nurses (RNs) to choose from. A nurse, just like any other human being, could have multiple interests. Therefore, it is important to know that even outside of the hospital, there are many different areas of nursing where you can make a real difference.
Less traditional nursing pathways
Below, we outline some of those unique and less traditional nursing pathways.
- School nurse
Working with children may seem like a calling for many nursing professionals. You can still work directly with children every day, even if you do not want to be a teacher. From preschools to colleges, school nurses can serve at both public and private institutions. Along with typical diseases and injuries, you’ll also provide daytime care for kids who need a few more drugs.
As most school nurses are employed throughout the academic year, this specialty gives you the flexibility to work a more regular schedule. If you have school-age children or are just looking for a Monday through Friday, nine-to-five job, then this is a good option.
Additionally, school nurses can also double as camp nurses. Camp nurses are called on duty whenever there is an overnight school trip so that there is a healthcare professional available to help with any unforeseen emergencies. Camp nursing entails living there, managing the camp’s medical center, and aiding with camp health requirements during the camp session. When necessary, camp nurses provide first aid to both children and staff.
- Nurse educator
When a student chooses a specialty, it does not mean that they will or should always be confined to that specialty. Nurses who have a passion for teaching should make use of it by pursuing a career as a nurse educator. Clinical nurses not only have the ability to move from working in an ER to a pediatric department or a surgical unit, but many of them also go on to become great mentors as nurse educators. Nurse educators are critical to addressing the healthcare shortage in nursing. Without a strong education, the forthcoming generation of nurses cannot prosper.
Typically, nurse educators first educate students in nursing at instructional hospitals or college nursing programs after working in clinical settings. Teachers have the option of working full-time in the classroom or part-time while continuing to cover clinical shifts.
The effectiveness of nurse educators and aspiring nurses depends on staying current with new technologies and procedures. Teachers need to be well-organized as they have to create lesson plans and write assessments. They must also have patience when working with pupils who have no prior knowledge of the nursing profession.
A Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) along with further learning, such as an MSN degree, are prerequisites for becoming a nurse educator. To start a career as a nurse educator, certain institutions, schools and hospitals may even demand a PhD.
- Nursing home nurse
Nursing homes might be a good option for you if you’re seeking to find employment outside of hospitals but remain in a clinical environment. Because they interact with their elderly patients every day, nurses who are employed in assisted living facilities are able to develop strong bonds with them. When you are working in a nursing home for the elderly, many of your patients probably require assistance with getting dressed, cleaning, grooming and other hygiene-related duties, and going to various activities or locations throughout the facility, etc.
RNs who work in nursing homes frequently hold managerial positions and deal with more complex duties such as monitoring treatment plans, starting IVs and providing injections. RNs with greater experience could potentially be able to transition into administrative positions. This would entail overseeing personnel, making sure that patient treatment complies with legal criteria, and managing the budget. You might consider pursuing a BSN to get ready for employment such as this at the executive level. This will distinguish you from your contemporaries and guarantee that you qualify for these kinds of jobs.
While working in this field may be highly gratifying, it’s crucial to keep in mind that patients will be residing in the facility full-time and that nursing staff must be on duty round the clock. As a result, scheduling might not be as consistent or flexible as it is in other roles. However, if having a consistent, flexible schedule is not important to you, then you might want to give this idea some serious thought.
- Travel nurse
There are a limited number of professions that allow contract-based work, and fortunately, nursing is one of those professions, as you can work as a travel nurse. The only difference between travel nurses and local RNs is that travel nurses are temporary, meaning that they don’t permanently reside in the area where they are working.
An RN with clinical experience who works in a temporary or contract nursing position is known as a travel nurse. Instead of being engaged by a single hospital, travel nurses are often hired through an independent nursing staffing service. Assignments typically last for 13 weeks. However, they can also last for four weeks or 26 weeks. Travel nurses nonetheless carry out the same tasks and fill the same roles in healthcare facilities. Nurses need to fulfill the travel nursing requirements before being able to get hired by these independent agencies for their services. A traveling RN should ideally have at least a year of recent acute-care working experience in their particular specialty. Geographical location has minimal impact on the skillset and training required of nurses.
Travel nursing gives these professionals the chance to work with some of the most renowned physicians and practitioners in some of the most popular locations, while being exposed to various nurse leadership techniques. For specified time periods, travel nurses fill in staffing shortfalls for hospitals and facilities around the nation. The cause of these staffing requirements could be the lack of RNs, owing to a number of factors, including seasonal population variations, unanticipated leaves of absence, or scheduled absences such as pregnancy leave.
- Insurance nurse
Consider switching to an insurance position if you want to avoid working in a clinical environment but still use your knowledge of the medical industry in your career. In this specialty, nurses have a range of roles and assist insurance firms by using their clinical expertise.
In accordance with their job descriptions, some of their duties can include examining insurance claims, providing clients with wellness advice, serving as a liaison between patients and healthcare professionals, and even creating standards for patient care. It would be ideal for someone who wishes to use their nursing talents while performing more administrative-type duties. This role involves a certain level of math and statistics expertise as well as excellent communication skills.
For those seeking a more consistent Monday through Friday, nine-to-five schedule, this is a fantastic alternative. A benefit of this employment for some is the possibility of working from home, which positions such as this may provide. Additionally, there can be some upward mobility, which would enable you to enhance your profession continuously.
- Public health nursing
In order to safeguard the public’s health, the public health nurse is in charge of professional nursing, including on-site nursing. They are also in charge of any additional tasks that may be necessary. They are directed generally by the director of public health, and carry out work that is sophisticated and technical in nature. The role requires the use of judgment and initiative.
The employee interacts often with members of the general public, personnel from schools and other local agencies, as well as property owners, tenants and managers of businesses that handle food goods. They also get access to confidential data related to the department, such as patient medical records.
Some of the most important tasks that public health nurses are responsible for include providing follow-up on every instance of a communicable disease in order to prevent epidemics, making site and home visits, and consulting with medical professionals. These nurses also participate in community health initiatives and handle complaints that the Board of Health receives. They investigate complaints of communicable diseases, keep records and complete reports, make follow-up contacts and/or visits, and assist the school nurse in dealing with infectious diseases by serving as a resource. They perform a wide range of nursing services, such as providing all police and firefighters with hepatitis vaccinations and tuberculosis skin tests, and organize vaccination clinics. These are just a few of the many tasks that a public health nurse has to undertake.
- Medical writer/journalist
Nurses and other medical experts who have an interest in writing can also pursue a full-time career as a medical writer. With rapid advancements in technology and an increase in e-medicine and telemedicine, countless online public and private organizations are constantly looking for qualified and skilled nurses and healthcare professionals to join their teams as part-time and full-time medical writers. These individuals update readers on the most recent medical news and research through their writing for medical periodicals. This is ideal for a nurse who needs a vacation from the daily grind of nursing but still wants to make a contribution to the medical sector.
Some medical writers are even employed by colleges or medical publications, while others are independent contractors or freelancers. According to the American Medical Writers Association’s 2019 wage study, the typical annual compensation for medical writers is $107,000 for full-time workers and $151,000 for independent contractors. So, this career pathway not only provides nurses with a unique work option, but also offers handsome annual pay with additional perks if you work freelance.
Skills required to succeed in alternative nursing careers
Even if you work outside of a hospital environment, being a nurse requires you to possess a certain set of skills to succeed in any job that you do. The most important of these skills are discussed below.
- Effective communication
A necessary component for success in a nursing job is appropriate and efficient communication skills. It should come as no surprise that communication is essential in the hospital setting, with nurses serving as the center. They serve as the patient’s advocate and as a liaison between all members of the healthcare team.
In order to succeed as a nurse, you need to have both physical and mental endurance skills. Maintaining good physical health can help you have the stamina and endurance to work eight-hour or even 12-hour shifts depending on the nature of your job. You must have mental strength if you’re going to be committed, focused and determined to take care of the individuals who depend on you.
- Solving issues
Because of the nature of nursing, troubleshooting is crucial for success regardless of the professional route you choose. Every client, worker and employer is unique and will have distinct expectations of you. Knowing exactly what is needed of you, doing adequate research, and seeing the big picture are all ways to develop into a well-rounded problem-solver. You should also identify the resources, including people, around you that you will need to use in order to create a strategy for success.
In conclusion, the field of nursing offers a plethora of career paths beyond the traditional hospital or clinic environment. Nurses can explore unique and less conventional career paths that align with their interests and passions. Whether you wish to work as a school nurse, nurse educator, nursing home nurse or travel nurse, there are various options to choose from. Pursuing these alternative career paths may require additional education and certification, but they can offer flexibility, diversity and an opportunity to make a significant impact on patients’ lives. Nurses should consider these unconventional pathways as they have the potential to provide job satisfaction and personal fulfillment.