Nontraditional Careers in Nursing: Options for Nurses

Susan E. Lowey, PhD, RN, CHPN


March 15, 2017

In This Article

Recommendations for Nontraditional Careers for Nurses

Just as not every nurse is cut out to work in the hospital, not every nurse will be the right fit for each nontraditional job. The best fit for a career in nontraditional nursing can depend on a variety of factors including level of experience, personality, and personal stage in life. For example, a brand new nurse may have expressed an interest in working with children as a school nurse but lacks any pediatric or acute care experience. In contrast, an experienced nurse who is nearing retirement age may be at a stage in life where a position requiring long hours and unpredictable patients is not at all desirable.

Nurses should research the nontraditional nursing career they are interested in before applying and should be prepared to come to the job interview with questions. If possible, nurses should try to speak with nurses who are currently employed in the desired position, as they would be the best source for realistic information about what the job entails.[10] Below, you will find some of the most popular nontraditional jobs in nursing alongside a character trait that might make for a natural "fit."

Adaptable—Home health nurse. If you have the ability to acclimate and function in any situation and don't mind a sudden change in plans, home health nursing might be the ideal career for you. Home health nurses provide holistic and comprehensive nursing care to patients in need of acute or chronic home-based healthcare and services.[10] Home health nurses must have excellent interpersonal skills and be able to promote culturally sensitive nursing care to the population they are serving in their community.

Alert—Correctional nurse. If you are observant and vigilant while maintaining tolerance in an unpredictable environment, correctional nursing might be a perfect career choice for you. Correctional nurses provide care and support to inmates residing in jails, prisons, correctional facilities, and/or juvenile detention centers.[10] Specialized knowledge in mental health and substance abuse care is often required in order to provide for the complex care needs of this population.

Compassionate—Hospice and palliative care nurse. If you are a gentle and kind spirit who can comfort patients during their final journey in life, hospice and palliative care nursing might be for you. Hospice and palliative care nurses provide care to patients diagnosed with life-threatening illnesses.[10] Assessments and interventions are performed to maximize comfort and improve the quality of life for patients and families going through a serious illness.

Curious—Research nurse. If you possess a natural curiosity to find solutions to clinical issues or make new discoveries to improve the lives of patients, research nursing might be for you. A research nurse can engage in all aspects of the research process with the goal of improving medical science and, ultimately, patient care.[10] This can involve recruitment and screening of research participants, collection of research data, and analysis of research findings.

Disciplined—Armed Forces military nurse. If you can maintain restraint and self-control in any situation, a career in military nursing might be a good fit for you. Military nurses provide care to members of the armed forces and their families who reside on a military base and/or can be deployed to work overseas in times of war.[10] Military nurses must have excellent assessment skills, particularly in volatile settings, as they often engage in providing emergency and critical care to seriously injured soldiers.

Energetic—Camp nurse. If you possess an energetic spirit and a love of nature and children, camp nursing may be the perfect role for you. A camp nurse provides acute and/or chronic care to campers and staff in the camp environment.[10] This position involves working most often with children and adolescents in health promotion, camp safety education, and emergent care in the outdoor camp setting.

Optimistic—Outpatient oncology nurse. If you possess an innate positivity and hopefulness, you may be well suited as an outpatient oncology nurse. Outpatient oncology nurses use the nursing process to care for patients undergoing various aspects of cancer diagnosis and treatment. Nurses can specialize in a particular type of cancer and/or a specific treatment modality (eg, chemotherapy or radiation).[10]

Tech savvy—Telemedicine nurse. If you like to navigate information systems instead of running away from them, telemedicine nursing might be a natural fit for you. A telemedicine nurse uses various technologies in order to deliver care to patients.[10] This includes the use of audio and video technologies remotely in the assessment, diagnosis, and implementation of care to patients.

Editor's Note: This article is based in part on a new book by Susan Lowey titled Nursing Beyond the Bedside.


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