JAANUU » The 12 Best Alternative Career Paths for Nurses

The 12 Best Alternative Career Paths for Nurses

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Feel like you’ve been burning the candle at both ends? If so, we don’t blame you. There’s plenty of evidence to support that the nursing profession is one of the most stressful and tiring in the healthcare industry. As a registered nurse, chances are that you’ll experience burnout at some point. 

Perhaps it’s time to shake things up in your career by specializing in a new area in your field. Or, maybe it’s the moment to consider switching gears and looking for non-bedside nursing jobs.

The good news is that even if you leave your current nursing career, you don’t have to start from scratch. The hard work you’ve put into getting your bachelor’s or associate’s degree and fulfilling your clinical practice will serve you in many career options (even if it moves you toward a non-clinical nursing job).

In this article, we’ll look at some of the most common career changes for nurses. These tried-and-true options will keep you close to medicine while removing you from a traditional healthcare setting.  If you’re considering pursuing a new career, know that you won’t be the first nurse to do so. Nor will you be the last. After all, change can be a good thing. Read on to find out whether it’s time for you to take the leap out of traditional nursing. 

What are the best alternative career paths for nursing?

When considering making a career change, we recommend first identifying what’s getting you down about your job. If it’s the nature of the work itself, perhaps you simply need to specialize in a new area. If you don’t feel challenged, consider going back to school for a certificate, master’s degree or doctorate to learn how to perform a more high-responsibility role. If it’s the workplace, however, perhaps looking for a job that will provide a change of scenery is the way to go. 

Plus woman wearing red jaanuu notched top scrubs

Here are some different types of nursing jobs and roles related to the medical field that could be a good fit for you while continuing to make a change in peoples’ lives. 

  1. Mental health nursing: In this role, you’ll work with patients suffering from psychological conditions, helping implement treatment plans formed by psychotherapists and psychiatrists to improve patients’ well-being. 
  2. Telenursing: Like to work from home? In this career path, you’ll help patients receive immediate help by attending to them via phone or video calls. You’ll assess patients’ conditions and guide them toward the proper specialist as needed. 
  3. Forensic nursing:  If you’re a fan of “CSI” but not ready to become a detective, you can put your inner sleuth to work as a forensic nurse. In this job, you’ll provide testimony for cases, and if you’re a good listener, you’ll also provide care to patients who’ve been victims of abuse. 
  4. Hospice nursing: If you’re the compassionate type who likes to connect with patients, this type of nursing will allow you to put these great qualities to work. You’ll help make patients needing palliative or end-of-life care as comfortable as possible, whether in an assisted living facility or private homes. 
  5. Legal nurse consulting: Not ready to take on law school? Put your clinical nursing skills to work by supporting lawyers with consults on medical questions that affect cases (i.e., insurance disputes). You’ll assess patients and gather testimonies, evidence and documentation.
  6. Neonatal nursing: If you’re looking for a career that allows you to work directly with a specific population in need, consider neonatal nursing. In this field, you’ll treat premature babies and sick infants. 
  7. Occupational nursing: Community-oriented individuals may find this career especially rewarding. In occupational nursing, you’ll help implement safety and health programs for workers, using your passion for the community to drive change and ensure that all workers have access to affordable care. 
  8. Professor of nursing: Time to go back to school, but as the teacher. As a professor of nursing or nurse educator, you’ll use your vast clinical experience to perform research and impart your wisdom to future generations of nurses. 
  9. School nursing: In this career, you’ll work with student populations to assess health issues that affect individual students and the community at large. You’ll also become a liaison between students and their parents and guardians. Different school settings (from kindergarten to college) present unique challenges, but in each, you’ll help educate staff on healthcare issues and keep everyone healthy. 
  10. Pharmaceutical sales representative: If you want to get out of the clinical setting altogether, you can use your knowledge of medicine as a pharmaceutical sales rep. This is a lucrative career opportunity in which you’ll promote the use of certain drugs. 
  11. Health coach: If you’re into health, wellness and sports, you can use your background as a nurse to help others live their best lives. As a health coach, you’ll guide your patients toward their fitness goals. This is one of the alternatives to nursing that allows you to continue providing direct patient care in a less demanding way.
  12. Nurse lobbyist: If you grew up wanting to be president, but your life took a different course, it’s not too late to explore a career in politics as a lobbyist. In this role, you’ll influence healthcare lawmaking and consult on important issues that affect us all, from local communities to the entire nation. 
Man nurse wearing zip pullover black jaanuu jacket

Feeling inspired for a fresh start? We hope so! Whatever new career path you choose to pursue, be sure to pair it with some new scrubs. We’ll be here to offer you all the moral support you need and keep you dressed in comfortable, high-performance gear as you begin this next exciting chapter, no matter where it takes you.

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