10 Alternative Careers for Nurses Outside the Hospital

If you are interested in becoming a nurse but unsure if you want to work in a hospital, alternative careers for nurses include nurse researchers, school nurses, military nurses and more. All of these careers are accessible with a BSN degree from Utica’s ABSN program.

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You may feel a calling towards a life as a registered nurse but are nervous about working in a hospital setting for the rest of your professional life. It’s hard to commit to a second degree accelerated nursing education when you aren’t sure about the career you want to pursue or the environment you want to work in. Good news for you: there are many types of nursing careers outside the hospital where you can make a difference in the world.

By choosing a career as a highly educated nurse with a bachelor’s degree in nursing from Utica University’s Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing program, you’ll have the opportunity to work a variety of settings, many of which are outside of hospitals. With Utica’s ABSN program, you can start your career sooner, as it is possible to graduate from the program in as little as 16 months.

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Examples of Nursing Careers Outside the Hospital

Nursing is a growing field that offers a variety of different settings in which to work. This career field is not only rewarding, but also offers flexibility in terms of job description, scheduling, and places of work. Whether you prefer clinical work, management, or enjoy the paperwork side of things, there is a nursing career out there to fit your interests and needs. The following are just some of the potential careers registered nurses can pursue that don’t have anything to do with a hospital.

1. Outpatient Nurse

Perhaps the most obvious alternative to inpatient, hospital nursing is outpatient nursing. Outpatient nurses can work in primary care or specialty clinics. Day-to-day duties may vary based on the type of clinic you are working in; however, most outpatient nurses can expect to check vitals, collect blood or other samples from patients for testing, educate patients, etc. Typically, the patients these nurses see are dealing with less serious conditions, with some coming in for reasons as simple as check-ups. However, because these patients only need medical care for short periods of time, the volume of patients for outpatient nurses is typically higher than those working in the hospital. Patient satisfaction is also important in these settings, as patient retention is critical for the success of many outpatient clinics. For this reason, being personable is an important characteristic of outpatient nurses.

This may be a good career option for you if you are looking for a job that allows you to work a regular schedule. Many clinics have set hours and are closed on weekends and holidays.

2. Military Nurse

You may have already decided that you want to work in a selfless field centered on healing others, but maybe you want to do even more. If you want to serve your country while still working as a nurse, you should consider joining the military. Military nurses go through basic training just like any other military personnel, although your training will differ based upon which branch of the military you enter. Regardless of the branch, you will become a part of the Nurse Corps and be able to work as a critical care nurse to nurse anesthetist to an OB/GYN nurse. You can also work in a variety of different settings, such as in clinics on military bases or in the field. You could even work on military ships or medical aircraft. You’ll earn a salary and benefits the same as many other nursing positions, and you may be eligible for sign-on bonuses and student loan repayments.

nurse wearing navy camo uniform

When you first start looking into military nursing, be sure to speak with a recruiter who can tell you the specifics of becoming a nurse in the military and not just a standard recruiter. While a typical recruiter can give you details on boot camp, they likely won’t be able to explain your roll within your specific branch.

3. School Nurse

Many people may feel a calling towards working with children. Just because you don’t want to become a teacher doesn’t mean you can’t work closely with kids every day. School nurses can work in private or public schools, from elementary schools to universities. You will treat common injuries and illnesses, as well as care for children who require certain additional medications throughout the day.

Working as a school nurse allows you to work a more consistent schedule, as most school nurses work during the school year. This works well for those with children in school or who are just seeking a Monday-through-Friday, nine-to-five position. School nurses must have the ability to work independently and have a broad knowledge of different health-related issues to ensure each child is treated accordingly.

School nurses must hold a Bachelor of Science in Nursing, and some schools may require the nurse to have passed the NCSN exam.

4. Nurse Researcher

Another option for a nursing career outside the hospital is a nurse researcher. If you enjoy the more scientific aspects of nursing, you may find a career as a nurse researcher rewarding. Although some nurse researchers may work in a hospital, many hold positions within pharmaceutical companies, contract research organizations and teaching and university hospitals.

As a nurse researcher, you will have the opportunity to design and coordinate scientific studies to continue advancing the nursing field. You will collect and analyze data and may have to apply for grants. Those who are organized and have an analytical mind would excel as a nurse researcher. Education requirements may differ depending on the position. However, those seeking careers as a nurse researcher should at least have a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree.

5. Nurse Educator

Once a student chooses a specialty, that doesn’t mean they are limited to that specialty forever. Not only can clinical nurses transition from working in an ER to a pediatric department or a surgery unit, but many go on to become nurse educators. As important as new nurses are to address the healthcare nursing shortage, nurse educators are just as vital. New generations of nurses cannot succeed without a great education.

Nurse educators typically work in clinical settings and then go on to teach nursing students at teaching hospitals or college nursing programs. Educators can choose to work on either a part-time basis and continue to work clinical shifts, or they can simply teach full time.

nurse giving presentation to room of people

Staying up to date on new technology and practices is vital to the success of both a nurse educator and future nurses. Educators must be organized, as they are required to develop lesson plans and prepare evaluations. They must also be patient, as they work with students who are completely unfamiliar with the nursing field.

Becoming a nurse educator requires a Bachelor of Science in Nursing and continued education such as a MSN degree. Some universities, colleges and hospitals may even require a PhD to begin a career as a nurse educator.

6. Home-Health Nurse

Home health nurses work with patients one-on-one in their own homes. Many different people with different types of conditions benefit from home-health nursing including the elderly, disabled, chronically ill, those recovering from surgeries or accidents, and more. These nurses often take care of their patients’ daily needs by administering medication, helping with basic hygiene, tending to any injuries and more. This career path is great for anyone who values autonomy in the workplace and wants to make deep and meaningful connections with their patients, as home-health nurses often work with the same patients for years. Home-health nursing may also be a good option if having a flexibility is important to you, as it may be possible to choose a schedule that works for you.

7. Nurse Manager

Becoming a nurse manager is a great career move for nurses who are passionate about health care and are great at leading people. Most nurse managers work with their staff to create schedules, make decisions regarding patient care and budgeting, execute performance reviews, and more. If you have solid communication, conflict resolution, and business skills, this may be a good nursing career outside of the hospital for you to consider.

Most organizations hiring nurse managers require candidates to hold a master’s degree. With Utica University’s ABSN program, you could be on track to getting your B.S. in Nursing in as little as 16 months, completing your first step on your way to your master’s and ultimately your career as a nurse manager.

8. Nursing Home Nurse

If you want to work outside of the hospital but are still looking for a clinical setting, a nursing home may be a good alternative for you. Nurses who work in nursing homes are able to form close relationships with their elderly patients, as they work with them on a daily basis. If you work in a nursing home, many of your patients will likely be unable to perform basic daily tasks and will need help with changing their clothing, bathing and other hygiene-related tasks, getting to different activities or locations around the facility, etc.

nursing home nurse smiling at older patient

RNs who work in nursing homes often have supervisory positions and tend to deal with higher-level tasks such as administering medication, starting IVs, giving injections, and managing treatment plans. RNs with more experience may also have the opportunity to take on an administrative role. This would include managing staff, ensuring patient care meets regulatory requirements, and handling the budget. To prepare for upper-level roles such as these, you should consider pursing a B.S. in Nursing from Utica’s ABSN program. This will set you apart from your peers and ensure you are eligible for these types of positions.

While this can be a very rewarding career, it is important to consider that your patients will be living in the facility full-time and nursing staff must be present 24/7. This means scheduling may not be as regular or flexible as other positions. However, if a fixed, flexible schedule is not a priority for you, this may be an option to seriously consider.

9. Insurance Nurse

If you are looking to steer away from a clinical setting, but still want to apply your expertise in the medical field to your career, you may want to look into transitioning to an insurance job. Nurses in this niche use their clinical knowledge to help insurance companies and can take on a variety of roles. Depending on their job titles, some responsibilities may include reviewing insurance claims, giving clients wellness advice, acting as an intermediary between healthcare providers and patients, and even developing standards for patient care. This type of position requires a level of proficiency in math and statistics as well as strong communication skills and would be great for anyone who wants to use their nursing skills while doing more administrative-type tasks.

This is another great option for anyone looking for more regular Monday-Friday, 9-5 schedule. Positions like this may even offer a work-from-home option, which is an attractive characteristic of this career for some. Additionally, there also may be some degree of upward mobility, allowing you to continually advance your career.

10. Public Health Nurse

Now, more than ever, public health nurses are greatly appreciated for their efforts in helping to promote the health of their communities, which makes this a great alternative career for nurses. Rather than working with individual patients, public health nurses evaluate and try to improve the health of their entire communities. There are a vast variety of roles that a public health nurse could assume, however some of the possible tasks could include evaluating data to determine patterns risk factors for a given population, creating campaigns to address any wide-spread health issues, and providing medical care individuals belonging to high-risk groups. Rather than working at a hospital, public health nurses often work for government entities, schools, community clinics, or non-profit organizations.

These are just a few examples of countless alternative nursing careers outside the hospital. Nursing is an incredibly vast field that allows you to pursue your interests and strengths. Not only are there many different settings and roles you can take on as a nurse, but there are also many different specialties you can pursue.

Lesser known RN specialties

Explore some of the lesser-known nursing specialties to see if something sparks your interest.

If you are interested in learning how you can start a nursing career outside the hospital in as little as 16 months? Get in touch with an advisor today to discuss Utica’s accelerated nursing programs.

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