Nurses, with their outstanding leadership abilities, technology skills and healthcare experience, can successfully transition to a variety of interesting and challenging jobs beyond nursing careers. And, nurses are in demand for countless non-clinical positions.
Mid-career nurses leave the field to pursue non-clinical roles for a variety of reasons. Some retire from their nursing jobs due to injuries, allergies or debilitating effects from years of physically demanding work; for these individuals, a nursing job may no longer be physically possible. Others need a break from the demands and mental stress of patient care. Still others are just ready for a new challenge.
These marketable and talented healthcare specialists enjoy limitless opportunities in professions ranging from medical device sales and teaching, to pharmaceutical sales and healthcare recruiting. Building on the knowledge and experience gained in a nursing career, nurses are well-positioned to succeed in new fields.
Here are several potentially lucrative and challenging non-clinical options to consider:
Healthcare recruiters generally work for hospitals or healthcare companies, or for general staffing or recruiting firms. They may be also be employed by nurse or physician staffing firms, which place doctors and nurses in temporary or contract positions. Healthcare recruiters search out qualified candidates, then prequalify and move them toward the hiring process.
Because it involves a great deal of verbal and written communications, healthcare recruiting is a great fit for nurses with these abilities, as well as strong interpersonal skills. Self-motivation is also vital for a successful career as a healthcare recruiter, as many recruiting firms offer performance commissions or bonuses along with a base salary.
Another option for nurses seeking non-clinical jobs is the nursing informatics field. Combining high-tech information systems management with clinical information consulting, this relatively new specialty offers lucrative opportunities. Optimizing information systems to facilitate patient care, consulting on methods to improve workflow processes, and promoting the value and awareness of clinical informatics are just a few of the ways these nurse specialists contribute to improving healthcare.
Many nursing informatics professionals hold advanced degrees or certifications; others learn their duties through on-the-job training. Employers may prefer candidates with experience or training in this specialty. Nursing informatics could be a great career choice if you are strategic, creative and have strong analytical and organizational skills.
Nurses with years of clinical experience have amassed a tremendous body of knowledge, and many find it rewarding to share it with nursing students. RNs with advanced degrees, such as Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) or Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degrees, are in great demand as nursing school faculty. Job opportunities should be very good in the coming years, as nursing school professors retire and a nationwide nursing shortage continues.
Earning an advanced nursing degree to become a nursing educator is possible, even if you need to continue working as a nurse in clinical practice. And, many nurses continue their clinical practices after they begin teaching. The choice is yours; with an advanced degree, you are in control of your career and your future as a nurse educator.
Becoming a medical writer is another interesting option for nurses who are ready for non-clinical careers in healthcare. Writing textbooks, advertisements, white papers, or web articles are a few of the abundant opportunities available for medical writers. Most medical writers work either as freelance contractors or as employees for healthcare or marketing firms.
A number of medical writers have advanced degrees; they are also typically skilled in writing, scientific accuracy and grammar. Important qualities for working as an independent contractor include self-direction, time management and the discipline to meet deadlines.
Nurses who are ready to take their careers in a new direction may also consider the in-demand specialty of patient advocacy. Patient advocates stand up for patients in an increasingly complex healthcare system. They provide support to families, explain procedures, and answer questions about patient rights and other concerns.
Experienced nurses can transition from a nursing career to a patient advocate job through advanced training and education, or through experience. Outstanding communication skills, diplomacy and the ability to work with people from many backgrounds are important to success in this field.
In this non-clinical role, nurses become members of the administration team for hospitals, medical centers, nursing homes and other healthcare facilities. A nursing administrator’s job activities may include policy making, scheduling, planning and budgeting. They often manage staff and participate in hiring and training, as well.
Most nursing administrators hold advanced degrees. Specialized courses in business management, organizational behavior and leadership skills can prepare nurses to advance to a nursing administrator career. Other important attributes to succeed in this field are excellent problem-solving, decision-making and analytical skills.
A career in insurance sales or as an insurance agent is another great option to consider when transitioning out of a nursing career. The good news is that not every insurance company requires experience – they often train candidates who are willing to learn the industry.
Because integrity and sales ability are important to success, nurses are often a natural fit for insurance sales – especially after years of convincing patients to take their medication! And, insurance agencies offer stability and opportunities for growth. Nurses interested in the insurance industry can utilize their healthcare knowledge to make a smooth career transition to one of the fastest-growing areas of insurance: medical service and health insurance.
Pharmaceutical sales can be challenging and lucrative for nurses seeking non-clinical careers. While the industry employs salespeople all over the country, it can be competitive. Success in pharmaceutical sales takes people skills, tact and diplomacy, as well as the ability to network and sell. Nurses who are driven self-starters, who also enjoy competition, often make a successful transition to pharmaceutical sales careers.
Selling medical devices is another non-clinical career option for nurses. It’s a complex industry, requiring substantial knowledge of healthcare and technology. Typically, careers in medical device sales are highly lucrative and rewarding – with significant opportunities for advancement.
Medical sales professionals often work directly with operating room personnel, selling new surgical products and demonstrating their use to surgeons, nurses and technicians. Requirements for medical device sales positions may include a bachelor’s degree; some employers prefer previous sales experience.
It’s natural to seek out new directions throughout a nursing career. Today, there are great opportunities to employ nursing skills and healthcare knowledge in non-clinical jobs. If you’re a nurse who’s ready to make the transition to a non-clinical career, research your options and find out what training and education you need to enter the field that best fits your interests. Now could be the perfect time to polish up your skills and advance your career in a new direction!