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Traditionally nurses are bedside clinicians. It is important to be aware that society does have a place for nurses outside of direct patient care. A quick search of the internet reveals some obvious alternatives such as tele-nursing, case management, and medical transcription. These all have very strong merits, however, there is an entire world of alternative job opportunities to consider for the nurse who wants to take their career to the next level. The following are few ideas to consider, and would require a fair amount of ambition and patience. As they say, anything worth doing is worth doing well!
Politics – Did you know that there are currently 7 Registered Nurses who are serving in the US Congress? Nurses are found at the state congressional level as well. If you are interested in policy making and working with the public (and special interest groups), this may be an option for you. Think locally as well, opportunities exist in many communities to run for an elected or appointed position on the city council or on an advisory board. If you prefer to avoid the big seat, consider working for a politician, providing important advice based on experience, relationships, and education.
Pharmaceutical/Device Industry – Many nurses are aware that there may be job opportunities in “pharma” as a sales representative. However, if a nurse has specialized their career, seek out a pharma company that focuses on products related to your specialty. These companies are looking for unique expert insights. Consider pharmaceutical jobs in Research & Development, Clinical or Medical Affairs/Operations, or Pharmacovigilance. The nurse will enjoy a new network of highly educated and motivated individuals working with a shared passion to resolve or alleviate a patient care related challenge.
Law – Interested in the legal system? Consider Legal Nurse Consulting (LNC). According to the American Association of Legal Nurse Consultants, the LNC is responsible to serve as “analysts, collaborators, strategists, researchers, and educators”. This role would involve interviewing clients, interpreting medical records, and advising/educating attorneys. A passion in this field may also open doors for your political career!
Entrepreneur – As a clinical nurse, you will be exposed to a universe of gaps in patient care. If you can “build the better mousetrap” you may have the beginnings of a successful business. Perhaps it is designing a device or providing a better service. A pediatric nurse may become frustrated seeing so many childhood injuries resulting in hospitalization. Start a child-safety business: educate new parents, childproof homes, and initiate community car seat installation clinics. A nurse entrepreneur will need to be creative, risk-tolerant, and ambitious.
Related: Starting a Health Care Business
Certified Personal Trainer – According to the National Association of Sports Medicine, there will be a 24% growth in Personal Trainer employment opportunities over the next decade. A nurse already has the foundational anatomy and physiology knowledge to apply towards basic kinesiology. Additionally, working with people on a variety of fitness goals can be similar to the patient care goal of optimizing health and wellness. Certification requires an investment of time and money, and of course a personal commitment to spending much time in a gym!
For the nurse who is seeking to breathe new life into an already successful career, these options will leverage the skills and talent acquired over years of nursing practice. Think big, challenge yourself, and don’t settle for less. The professional nurse can and should be represented in a variety of industries that increase pay, autonomy, and/or power. These are just a few non-traditonal high-level career opportunities for nurses. If you are currently engaged in one of these roles or others, please leave a comment below or message me about your unique contributions.
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More Articles by Tim Fish, RN MBA DNP CENP