Nurse Finds Her Passion as Nurse Navigator

Nurse Finds Her Passion as Nurse Navigator

My nursing education journey began when I received my BSN in Nursing at Rutgers College of Nursing in 2011. During my time there, I met some strong, professional women professors. They took such a personal interest in me that, over a decade later, I think of them with much gratitude. Their strength helped me to see myself as a strong but caring nurse.

A Strong Caring Nurse

My education gave me the confidence to care for my patients competently. I had a tough clinical practice specialist on the Med/Surg/Tele unit I first worked on. When she asked me questions on the spot, I almost always knew the answer. I credit Rutgers and fellow student nurses who supported each other through nursing school.


Prisca Benson, MSN, RN is a a nurse navigator for the neuroscience department at The Valley Hospital

While there was a lot to learn on the job, the education I received provided a foundation I used to excel clinically. It was not long before I started picking up per diem job opportunities to explore and broaden my horizons as a nurse. I worked in home care as an intake nurse, home care nurse, and infusion nurse for different companies.

In 2014, I got a job as a neurology nurse at my dream hospital, NYP-Columbia University Hospital. While per diem there, I joined committees I was interested in and disseminated the information to the staff in my unit to improve our practice.

I also noticed that some patients lacked a basic understanding of their medical history and medication. So I used the principles I learned in school to educate them effectively so they could be more knowledgeable about their health and care.

A Life’s Passion Realized 

I soon realized that my passion was teaching.

I began searching for nursing opportunities to give me more time to teach patients. I applied for a position as Neuroscience Nurse Navigator at The Valley Hospital, which allowed me to create and develop the role to support the patients during their admission and help them maintain outpatient follow-up.

This was a dream come true! I finally had the time to sit at a patient’s bedside, teach them about their new diagnosis and answer all their questions.

While working this job, I received my MSN in Nurse Education at Chamberlain University. The modalities taught have allowed me to be a better peer and patient educator. It encouraged me to start with the other person’s understanding as a foundation for effectively educating someone. I participated in my organization’s student nurse externship by teaching skills, theory, and even creating an educational game to increase knowledge retention.

Love and Desire to Educate

My love and desire to educate led me to start a personal finance and health blog, Our Green Life, during the pandemic. The fear and misinformation were very unsettling, so I wanted to provide a reliable but approachable space for information. I use what I have learned through my education and experience to make the information easy to grasp and to demonstrate how it could be applied.

My nursing education helped shape my career, goals, and values, and I will be forever grateful for it.

5 Non-Hospital Jobs to Consider

5 Non-Hospital Jobs to Consider

Nurses aren’t just meant for hospital work, as they have plenty of career options to choose from now. Spending time and money to prepare for nursing school opens a wide variety of opportunities, which can help you recover your investment even without the need of pursuing a job at the hospital. Here are five non-hospital jobs you should consider.

1. Cruise Ship Nurse

This position provides many registered nurses the benefit of work and travel at the same time. Working as a health care provider on an ocean liner definitely has some similarities and differences with those of land-based jobs. Like most hospitals or clinics, you would need to have a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree, but nurses who have earned their master’s degree are given priority.

Those who aspire to work on board would need to have their registered license of course and certifications for both Basic Life Support (BLS) and Advanced Cardiovascular Life Support (ASL).

Below are the expected skills of a cruise ship nurse:

  • Organizational skills for document sorting
  • The ability to stay calm under pressure
  • Critical thinking
  • Excellent communication skills with a pleasing personality
  • Good problem-solving skills
  • Must be emotionally stable at all times

Employers hire those who have at least two to three years of working experience, preferably in emergency or acute care. Since you will be working with a small staff and limited supply, these responsibilities will be divided between each personnel:

  • Direct patient care (from first aid to a serious medical case)
  • Oversee proper patient documentation
  • Provide first aid training
  • Assist in staff drug testing
  • Conduct lifeboat safety drills
  • Check and restock medical inventory
  • Accompany patients or evacuees to land facilities via small boat or helicopter

Typical schedules would be 10 to 12-hour shifts with one day off (on rotation) and a high possibility of on-call situations. The contract presented to nurses would run a minimum of 6 months to 1 year depending on the cruise line and the salary offer would be around $3,000 to $5,000 per month.

Some pros for this job include: all-expense paid travel, large workloads earning better experience, and great for those who settle for short-term and recurring contracts.

However, the cons of this job would be the very strict and competitive market (e.g., employers preferring nurses with bilingual skills or work experiences in multicultural settings), small salary rate, and having to be away from loved ones, especially those who are tied with responsibilities at home.

2. Nurse Coach

Are you considered a great influencer? Then being a health coach might be the perfect career for you! A lot of companies (including insurance firms) hire these nurses to assist employees (especially those with chronic diseases) with achieving their health goals.

Nurses who have a BSN are qualified to apply for this job, but note that a master’s is preferred for this role as well. You can be board-certified as a nurse coach (NC-BC), a holistic nurse coach (HN-BC), or a health and wellness nurse coach (HWNC-BC). The American Holistic Nurses Credentialing Corporation is the agency that administers the certifications. To learn more, visit

Here are the skills that are expected for this particular career path:

  • Must be confident
  • Exercises self-control at all times
  • Very patient and understanding
  • Must have knowledge regarding lifestyle-related topics and chronic diseases
  • Must be optimistic
  • Excellent communication skills and influence
  • Excellent personnel management
  • Must be willing to cooperate and collaborate with the client
  • Excellent problem-solving skills
  • Must have initiative

Employers expect each health coach to work closely with their clients and make sure that each responsibility is met:

  • Empower patients with chronic illnesses to live a healthy lifestyle
  • Teach proper health care to avoid further medical complications
  • Help client realize health goals and construct a SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Time-based) plan to achieve it
  • Conduct health-related wellness seminars and training

There are many pros to this career, such as a possible salary of $66,000 per year, the benefit of working with diverse personalities, and a wide range of employers.

Personal stress, uncontrollable shifts (on-call situations), and unruly clients/patients could be some of the cons to this job. However, you should always have yourself ready for these can be present in any work environment.

3. Insurance Firm Nurse

If you have a knack for organizing documents, interviewing clients, and resolving complaints, then you might want to consider working for an insurance firm.

Of course, aspirants would need to have a BSN or MSN degree and a RN license to practice. On top of that, a minimum of 2 years work experience is needed.

An insurance firm expects that every candidate possesses these skills:

  • Organizational skills, such as documentation and bookkeeping
  • Problem-solving skills for case handling
  • A keen eye for analytical situations
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Good personnel management

In this field, multiple positions are available for both LPNs and RNs, such as:

LPN available positions

  • Appeals Nurse Associate: handles member appeals and resolves complaints and grievances.
  • Health Coach Associate: works with the employees of an organization where health challenges are identified to create wellness campaigns and incentive programs to reduce member complaints.
  • Quality Management Nurse Associate: conducts interviews and reviews along with health care providers to promote the highest quality of medical procedures and outcomes.

RN available positions

  • Health Coach Consultant: manages lower level associates and conducts campaigns for both organizations and facilities to improve overall performances for companies or hospitals.
  • Nurse Educators: educates patients on an academic level regarding selected medical professionals as well as appropriate medical treatment. This is only for rerouting and no medical advice can be provided by these nurses.

With the diverse tasks given out to nurses who work in an insurance firm, they are able to earn as much as $80,000 per year.

The pros of this career include being home-based work wherein they can just appear in the office for about 2 to 3 times a week, which leads to another pro: more family time!

A disadvantage is that it is more clerical than medical and if needed, you might be called to work in out-of-state field cases.

4. Medical Sales Representative

This field needs nurses who have very influential vocabularies and can close sales. If you think you can turn a hard “no” into a graceful “yes,” then being a “med rep” is the job suited for you!

It doesn’t strictly need a bachelor’s degree in the medical field, but one requirement is that your degree is health care, life science, or marketing-related. You should also consider becoming certified, which you can apply for with the National Association of Pharmaceutical Sales Representatives (NAPSR).

To be a successful sales representative, these skills are must-haves:

  • Pleasing personality
  • Well-versed and influential
  • Excellent communication skills
  • Knowledgeable about medical updates, especially in the field of technology and treatments
  • Have a keen eye for analytical situations
  • Organizational skills for document preservation and revision

This field is very competitive and challenging because of the following responsibilities:

  • Establish and maintain relationships with possible clients
  • Provide newly developed samples of medicinal products or equipment
  • Document and organize the records of all established contacts
  • Monitor and analyze competitor’s products and actions
  • Appointment setting with clients with a well-presented discussion of new products

Of course, with every difficult task and every sweet “yes,” sales reps are rewarded with a high salary that could reach up to almost $96,000 PLUS a bonus or incentive for each sale that one makes. Based on a 2017 salary report, the average overall compensation for a sales rep reached up to a whopping $147,424. Hard work definitely pays off!

Building connections with suppliers as well as creating ties with clinical offices that could possibly be the next workplace are just some of the pros of this job. Don’t forget the high salary and incentive!

However, the price comes with a demanding workload and honesty. Even the best salesman still gets a “no” from time to time so expect that another con would be the days without commissions.

5. Parish Nurse

This field is a combination of tasks that are present in both health coaching and insurance firm nurses. This focuses on a more holistic approach to a person’s health.

To enter this career, applicants would need to have a BSN or MSN degree. A nursing license registered in the same state as that of the parish is required along with 3 to 5 years of nursing experience.

Some parishes also require that candidates undergo theological classes, which could run for about 1 to 2 weeks.

Here are the skills needed for this role:

  • Excellent communication skills
  • Pleasing personality
  • Familiar with spiritual and cultural activities
  • Ability to refer patients to other medical professionals
  • Knowledgeable about nursing practices, medications, tools, and equipment

Responsibilities for parish nurses may include:

  • Personal health counseling to the faith community
  • Training volunteers
  • Assisting in developing support groups
  • Educating the community on self-care and personal first aid
  • Referring patients to medical facilities and professionals for direct treatment

Taking all of the responsibilities into consideration, it comes as no surprise that the salary range for a parish nurse is anywhere from $45,000 up to $92,000 per year, according to

A few benefits of this career include the perks of working close to home since you will be at your local parish daily and the power to gain complex knowledge that only priests can provide.

On the other end, you will not be providing any direct treatment and there will be instances of out-of-city work that you would need to attend along with the authorities of the parish.

Helping other people is not bound by the white walls of an emergency room or by the great halls of a hospital. These settings certainly allow nurses to further diversify their experiences and gain more knowledge as a basic and holistic health care provider. With this, nurses can definitely expand the use of their medical expertise.

Tips for Applying for an Internal Job

Tips for Applying for an Internal Job

You got your foot in the door at your current employer and your goal is to advance your nursing career and climb the ladder to more responsibility, challenging work and a higher salary. There may be a nurse manager position opening in your facility or perhaps you wish to take your nursing background in a new, non-clinical direction and apply for a patient advocate or nurse educator position. Many employers are eager to promote from within, but what does it take to stand out among competition from both internal and external applicants? Here are a few tips to help you land your next position within your current company.


The first step in applying for any job, whether it’s at your current employer or at an outside company, is to fill out an application and/or submit your resume for consideration. Treat your application packet just as thoughtfully as you would if you were an outside applicant. Just because you are a current employee doesn’t mean that you’re a sure pick for the new position. Ask a trusted mentor or friend to review your application to make sure you’re presenting yourself in the best light.

Put it in Writing

Writing a cover letter as part of your internal job application is a great way to stand out – especially if it’s not a requirement of the application. Some companies only require an online application, but you will make a statement by taking the time to craft a cover letter that details your experience and why you are the best candidate for the job. Attach your letter and resume to your application, if possible, or email it to the appropriate hiring manager.

Dress for Success

If you land an interview, again, it’s vital that you treat the process just as you would if you were applying for an outside position. Internal candidates can sometimes feel more confident and comfortable than outside applicants because they may already know the hiring committee and they already feel comfortable in the environment. But you are still competing for the job with many other candidates, so don’t get too comfortable. Dress for success and present yourself as professionally as possible by wearing a business suit – this is no time to wear your nursing scrubs.

Follow Up

After your interview, be sure to follow up with the hiring manager or committee with a written thank you letter to reiterate your interest in the position and your commitment to the company. You’d be surprised how many candidates do not follow up after an interview, so if you do, you’ll stand out. Send a handwritten note on a professional note card for a personal touch.

Tell Your Boss

Should you tell your boss that you are applying for internal positions? This can be a tricky area since you’re not certain that you will land the new job and you don’t want to give your current manager the impression that you’re unhappy (even if you are). According to Allison Doyle, job search expert, it’s best to present your desire for the new position in a positive light. She writes: “The best rationale focuses on the positive aspects of the new job without expressing dissatisfaction about the job you have now. In fact, it is usually safest to emphasize that you are enjoying your current job, so your boss doesn’t think you can’t wait to move on.”

Ensure your boss that you would like to advance your career and this opportunity is too good to pass up. Try to be selective about which internal positions you apply for so that it doesn’t look like you’ll take any open position.

Landing a new position within your current company can be a great way to grow your career. Keep your eye out for a more challenging position and follow these tips for landing the job.

Denene Brox is a Kansas City-based freelance writer. 

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