Nontraditional Careers in Nursing: Options for Nurses

Susan E. Lowey, PhD, RN, CHPN


March 15, 2017

In This Article

History of Nontraditional Careers

Just as not everyone is cut out to be a nurse, not every nurse is cut out to work in the hospital. Fortunately, the profession is broad, and the job opportunities are plentiful. The beauty of nursing is that the work setting can be any place the patient is in need of care. Not all patients need nursing care that requires an inpatient hospitalization. In fact, with a growing emphasis on preventive care, nursing care is needed to educate and monitor individuals long before they develop an adverse health condition.

Just as not everyone is cut out to be a nurse, not every nurse is cut out to work in the hospital.

When asked where nurses most commonly work, the vast majority of people would likely answer the hospital. The hospital is the location where most people have encountered a nurse and the setting most commonly depicted on television and in the media. The origin of nursing does not begin in the hospital setting, however.

In the colonial period in America, care of the sick was provided by women, and it was informal in nature.[7] Women presided over care during childbirth and for those who were ill, infirmed, or dying. In the early 1800s, informal nursing care was being given in the home through various religious and charitable organizations.[7] Nurses at this point were not yet formally trained or educated in providing nursing care.

It wasn't until the industrialization period that there was a greater need to provide care to the growing numbers of residents living in urban areas. It was also during this time that women were becoming employed outside of the home setting. The poor environmental conditions that arose from living in tenement houses paved the way for community-based nursing practice.[7] This included educating individuals and families on how to avoid illness, how to take care of basic hygiene and medical needs, and how to prevent the development and spread of communicable diseases.[7]

Advances in medicine and technology in the 21st century further expanded the profession of nursing. The expansion of healthcare created more nursing jobs outside of the hospital setting and will continue to do so in light of the changing dynamic within the healthcare system.


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