Most people envision nurses working in a hospital or a nursing facility. Although direct patient care is the most popular path for nurses, it's certainly not the only one. A nursing degree's versatility can provide opportunities for nursing careers away from the bedside. You can apply the knowledge you gain from earning your nursing degree and providing patient care to many different fields of nursing.
Nurses can practice in a variety of settings, although some nursing specialties require prior experience, additional education or specific training. Exploring options for non-bedside nursing jobs, and the education required to obtain them, can help you prepare if you decide to shift your nursing career. Should you shift, consider using one of our Resume Templates to update or rewrite your resume.
Nursing careers away from the bedside
There are many reasons why nurses move away from bedside care. Perhaps you've decided you're ready to take your nursing career in another direction or to begin to climb the career ladder. Some nurses may begin considering different kinds of nursing positions in preparation to step away from direct patient care, due to the higher-than-usual incidence of occupational injuries or the accompanying emotional strain.
Consider your career goals
The sheer variety of nursing specialties and the fact that there are many different kinds of nurses means you can find a way to combine your nursing skills with your passion. Reflect on what drew you to nursing, what you like the most and least about the positions you've held and any interests outside of nursing. Use this information to create a vision for your career path that leads to your ideal nursing job. Save these notes and use these skills and anecdotes when you're writing your cover letter for your next job.
Thinking about alternative nursing careers
Once you've identified the strengths you'd like to build upon, consider which nursing careers might be a good fit. Here are a few careers to consider:
1. Nurse educator
If you like sharing your knowledge with others, you might continue your education to become a nurse educator for future nurses. Additional nursing careers involving education include:
- Health coach for insurance companies
- Nurse educator consultant for a government agency
2. Nursing roles on the road
There are opportunities to develop closer patient relationships or personal connections with in-home health care, or to escape the confinements of the hospital or nursing facility. If you prefer to work more independently, take your nursing skills on the road. You might enjoy working as a:
- Travel nurse
- Home health or hospice nurse
If you enjoy research or developing content and are a talented writer, you might consider a position to share your medical knowledge as a:
- Medical, academic or CEU (continuing education unit) writer
- Nurse content marketing strategist
4. Nurses and technology
Technology has changed the way in which we provide care and treat patients. It's also created nursing careers away from the bedside and at the computer. If you're tech-savvy, you could consider a job in:
- Nursing informatics
5. Nurse leader
Nursing leadership makes a difference in the quality of care provided and the work environment. This role may require on-the-job supervisor training or additional education in management but works best with someone who has a desire to lead and motivate others. Leadership roles include:
- Nurse administrator
- Nurse management
6. Nursing consultant
Your education and experience in nursing represents a wealth of information that can assist others. A nursing consultant may work within a larger organization or independently. Options include:
- Legal nurse consultant
- Lactation consultant
7. Other areas of nursing
Working in areas such as occupational health, correctional nursing or as a patient advocate can allow you to step away from the bedside, but still be directly involved with patients. Other options include:
- Case manager
- School nurse
Pursuing different kinds of nursing
If you know what type of nursing position you're interested in, prepare for the change by pursuing any additional education or certification necessary for the new role. You may not have to leave your current position to begin exploring a nursing career away from the bedside. You might consider testing a new area of nursing on the side to supplement your current income, to build your resume or to use this new role as a method to ease into retirement.
Your nursing degree gives you a variety of career options and we've only covered a fraction of what's out there. Whether you're considering exploring administrator roles, a new specialty, or a different field of nursing, be sure to add the skills you gain on your resume to apply for that new position. Our Cover Letter Builder and Resume Builder can help prepare your application documents for the next step in your nursing career, even if it's away from the bedside.