Many nurses go into the profession dreaming of a lifelong career of direct patient care in a hospital setting, only to discover that type of care isn't for them. Fortunately, there are many jobs with nursing degree prerequisites that require little to no hands-on care.
Preparing to leave the bedside
It can be distressing to discover the career you thought would be your life's work no longer suits you. Fortunately, your education and experience have prepared you for other jobs. The challenge is finding a new position that fits your career needs and obtaining the qualifications to achieve those goals.
Start doing these tasks today to prepare to leave the bedside:
- Gain experience. Obtain at least two years of nursing experience on a medical-surgical or another nursing unit. This time working hands-on as a nurse will give you a strong foundation for whatever comes next
- Look for continuing education that aligns with your goals. For example, if you want to become a case manager, take courses in essential case management topics.
- Find professional organizations for the nursing specialty that interests you most, so you can network with nurses who work in the industry.
- Review your resume and look for ways to highlight how your nursing skills will be useful in your next career. Our advice on how to write a resume can help you get started.
- Think ahead about how you'll explain your career shift in job interviews. Your cover letter will allow you to tell your story and explain why you're ready for this new role.
Consider these five careers after nursing:
Finding alternative jobs for nurses is easy once you know what type of job interests you. What do you love most about nursing? Is it assisting families and patients through difficult times? Helping people achieve their health goals or navigating the complicated healthcare system?
1. Case manager
RN case managers function in more of a social work role than bedside nurses. They develop, implement and evaluate individualized care plans for each client. Case managers also educate patients about disease processes and self-care needs to maintain overall health. These nurses advocate for the patient's welfare and often act as a liaison between the patient, their caregivers and healthcare providers.
Nurse case managers can work with a nursing degree in hospice, home care or insurance companies. Each of these settings requires a different skillset and case management tasks. A nurse case manager in-home care may provide some hands-on care while overseeing the patient's overall care plan. However, nurse case managers in the insurance industry usually provide telephonic visits rather than in-person.
2. Medical writer
If you've ever asked, "what can I do with a nursing degree?" and you love to write, a career as a medical writer could be a good fit. You'll use your nursing and healthcare knowledge to write blog posts, white papers or magazine articles. Many nurses write for companies producing content for patient education, nursing education and general health and wellness content.
Working as a medical writer is a different job for nurses that still uses your degree. You'll need a portfolio of writing samples to get started. Make progress on this by writing for a nursing blog or your own blog. Once you have a few published pieces, create a portfolio on a site like Contently so clients can find you. Publishing a professional portfolio website is another way to showcase your writing and nursing experience to potential clients.
3. Health coach
Health coaching is an excellent job for nurses who don't want to be nurses but love motivating others to live a balanced life. Health coaches help clients set and meet health-related goals. These nursing professionals use multiple modalities and coaching principles that integrate clients' minds, bodies, spirits and environments.
Health coaches work in every healthcare setting and nursing specialty. You can work with one specific patient population, such as diabetes care or cardiovascular health. Or you may choose to work with clients who have general health and wellness needs, such as weight loss or stress management.
4. Legal nurse consultant
Do you enjoy learning about the rules, regulations and laws that govern healthcare? A legal nurse consultant uses their nursing degree without being at the bedside.
Legal nurses analyze and evaluate facts and testimony in court cases. You may work on personal injury cases, medical malpractice or regulatory compliance. Legal nurse consultants review all the facts in a suit and then provide a professional opinion on the delivery of specific healthcare services.
Most legal nurse consultants work in law offices, insurance companies or government agencies. Others work for patient safety organizations, businesses or as a self-employed contractor. Legal nursing is a different nursing position that has become popular in recent years and is essential to the healthcare industry.
5. Healthcare recruiter
Nurses, doctors and therapists are in-demand healthcare professionals. Healthcare recruiters work to find the right professional for healthcare jobs. As a healthcare recruiter, you may work for various employers, such as hospitals, healthcare companies or large recruiting firms. Professionals in this job with a nursing degree understand the healthcare industry and what employers are looking for in professionals. You can bring a new level of understanding and expertise in finding the right professional for each nursing or healthcare role you fill.
Leaving your bedside nursing job might be a challenging decision, one that takes both soul searching and practical planning. If you're confident you no longer want to be bedside, this move may feel like an exciting adventure. Fortunately, there are plenty of jobs for nurses who don't want to be nurses. Whatever your situation, our Resume Builder and Cover Letter Builder can help you create application materials that showcases your skills.