When many people think of a nurse, they most likely picture someone wearing scrubs and working directly with patients in settings such as hospitals, clinics, and doctor’s offices. But there are nursing careers that don’t focus on providing direct patient care, but still greatly impact the health outcomes of communities.

If you’re a brand new nurse, a few years of clinical experience can be great training ground in gaining valuable first-hand knowledge of the issues, challenges, and best practices that nurses can only learn in the field. But keep in mind that there are many rewarding careers outside of clinical settings.

Here are a few careers to consider to take your nursing career beyond the bedside.

Leadership Roles

Nurses in leadership roles perform a wide variety of duties and need many skills beyond providing patient care. Positions in nursing leadership include nurse manager, health care administrator, or care manager. These roles are more administrative and require strong leadership, financial and strategic planning skills.

Nurses working in leadership positions manage nurses, create budgets for their departments, and develop, plan, and implement programs and procedures for improved patient outcomes.

If working in a leadership role interests you, be sure to develop your leadership skills early. Get involved with nursing associations and seek out leadership roles whenever you can. And be sure to look for opportunities to mentor other nurses. If you’re still in school, look for leadership opportunities within your student nursing association.

If you’re serious about a career in nurse leadership, consider earning an MS in Nursing Leadership degree.

Nurse Educator

If you are interested in one day teaching the next generation of nurses, consider a career as a nurse educator.

Nurse educators teach nursing to college students and practicing nurses in academic and/or health care facilities.

Nurse educators develop curriculum and must have a high level of nursing experience and expertise. You will be required to hold a bachelor’s degree in nursing, be an RN, and complete a graduate-level nurse educator program to succeed in this specialty.

Health Policy

If you have a passion for advocating for legislative change, a career in health policy may be for you. Health policy nurses work on a variety of public health issues such as tobacco control or care for the aging.

According to DiscoverNursing.com, health policy nurses work to create an overall healthier society through advocacy, research, and analysis. They work in health service research firms, legislative offices, health care provider associations, or hold elective office.

In order to succeed in health policy, you’ll first need to obtain a master’s degree in nursing and complete a 10-week health policy program. You’ll also need strong leadership, communication, and analytical skills.

Gain experience by getting involved in nurse advocacy as a volunteer. The American Nurses Association is a great resource to get started in advocacy work.

Nurse Recruiter

Transitioning from direct patient care to nurse recruiting can be a fast-paced and exciting career for nurses who are interested in the human resources side of health care.

In a nutshell, nurse recruiters screen, interview, and recommend candidates for open positions in the health care industry. Recruiters also provide career guidance to candidates, negotiate job offers and stay up-to-date on the latest job search trends.

Nurse recruiters possess strong communication and sales skills. You’ll need a bachelor’s degree in nursing, as well as a strong clinical background to gain entry into this field.

Thinking about career options beyond patient care can open up many opportunities for nurses and may just be the perfect fit for you.

Denene Brox

Denene Brox is a freelance writer based in Kansas City.
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