Almost half of all nurses leave the profession entirely after just five years on the job. The reason is pretty simple. Nursing is hard. The hours are brutal. The labor is both physically intensive and mentally exhausting. The pay, though higher than average, fails to appreciate the significance of the work.
It makes sense why a lot of nurses decide that the field isn’t for them. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that a total exit is required. There are many enticing alternatives to bedside nursing that pay well and create unique opportunities for the nurse who is pursuing them.
In this article, we take a look at possible career moves you can make as a nurse.
If you are hoping to transition into a different specialty, there are several important steps that should take to make sure that you are taking advantage of an opportunity that you will find genuinely rewarding.
- Research: The first step is to research what types of jobs are out there. You would be surprised by the different roles nurses can play within the healthcare industry. For example, do you or someone you know struggle with diabetes? There are entire nursing professions designed around helping newly diagnosed people with diabetes cope with and manage their condition.
- Determine what the job requires: Usually, your nursing degree will be adequate for helping you gain employment in a similar field. However, there are certain situations where a special certification may be required. Before you get too far along in the application process, find out what the job you are interested in requires. Note that some jobs may allow you to begin working as you finish up a certification program. It may be worthwhile to speak with potential employers about what qualifications they insist upon.
- Network: Chances are you probably know a lot of people who have been working within the healthcare industry for a long time. Even your current coworkers may be able to get you a good lead on a new gig. Once you put the word out that you are interested in changing lanes, you may be surprised to find how many opportunities present themselves. Do be careful what you say. Your current employer may not take kindly to the news.
- Consider the merit of stepping stones: It’s also worth keeping in mind that it may not be possible to pivot immediately into your dream job. Sometimes, it will be necessary to work your way up. Consider the value of transitional jobs. You may not want to work as a research nurse in the long haul, but if it gets you off the night shift while you look for your dream job, it may be worth doing.
- Get serious about your application materials: Don’t let your guard down just because the demand for nurses is high. Desirable positions can still get very competitive. And because nursing is such a geographically limited position (each area will only have a limited number of hospitals) you may need to be willing to move or take on a long commute to get the job that you want.
Changing your nursing specialty can be a deeply rewarding experience. While there is a process you will need to follow, once you commit the efforts will be worth it. Now that you know what it takes to change lanes, let’s take a look at a few jobs that might be of interest to you.
Home Health Nursing
Home health nursing is a specialized field in which the nurse goes directly to the patients, treating them from the comfort of their own homes. The job can vary quite significantly based on the patient’s needs. However, at its core, many of the responsibilities are the same that those a bedside nurse experiences.
The primary difference is that you will be working with the patient in their home setting. This can create a more comfortable and personal work environment that many nurses appreciate.
As a home health nurse, your responsibilities will include:
- Conducting comprehensive assessments of patient’s health status and developing individualized care plans.
- Administering medications, treatments, and wound care as prescribed by physicians.
- Monitoring patients’ vital signs and evaluating their response to interventions.
- Educating patients and their families on disease management, medication adherence, and lifestyle modifications.
- Collaborating with physicians, therapists, and other healthcare professionals to coordinate and optimize patient care.
- Providing emotional support and counseling to patients and their families.
- Documenting patient care activities accurately and maintaining up-to-date medical records.
A nurse informist leverages tech skills to optimize healthcare information systems. Sometimes called informatics nurses, these professionals work directly with data in order to optimize internal operations and improve patient outcomes.
Note that this is a role that will most likely require a special certification.
Research nurses work in more academic settings, helping to conduct studies, analyze research, and share findings with the wider research community. Research nurses can work for hospitals but also often find jobs at universities.
If you are interested in conducting studies and shaping the field rather than doing hands-on work, this profession may be right for you.
Nurse administrators work in a leadership capacity, helping hospitals oversee budgeting, internal policy-making, and professional development among the staff. While the end goal of your efforts will be to improve patient outcomes, the actual work itself will be based primarily in an office-type setting.
Telehealth nurses work with patients remotely to help answer questions, assess health situations and provide other forms of guidance. The idea behind telehealth jobs is to make healthcare as accessible as possible, even for people who are not able to make regular visits to the hospital.
While the work does not usually involve physical contact with patients, it is highly patient-driven, allowing you to still help take care of people while forgoing some of the more challenging aspects of traditional bedside nursing.
With a Bachelor’s in Health Science along with an MBA, Sarah Daren has a wealth of knowledge within both the health and business sectors. Her expertise in scaling and identifying ways tech can improve the lives of others has led Sarah to be a consultant for a number of startup businesses, most prominently in the wellness industry, wearable technology and health education. She implements her health knowledge into every aspect of her life with a focus on making America a healthier and safer place for future generations to come.
Disclaimer: The viewpoint expressed in this article is the opinion of the author and is not necessarily the viewpoint of the owners or employees at Healthcare Staffing Innovations, LLC.