If you’re looking for career options beyond traditional bedside nursing, there are a variety of different directions you can take. Jobs in case management, forensic nursing, education and public health all offer alternatives to the traditional path many nurses take.
Case managers oversee and direct all aspects of patient care, and demand for this job is growing rapidly. Case managers coordinate all those who treat patients – doctors, nurses, therapists and other practitioners. They are expected to produce the shortest possible patient stay with the highest possible outcome, and must be able to implement change and solve problems proactively. Patience, extreme diplomacy and political astuteness are a must to be successful as a case manager.
As the demand for this type of work grows, employers will seek nurses with both certification in case management and strong clinical experience. The primary certifying bodies are the Commission for Case Manager Certification and the American Nurses Credentialing Center.
This field typically requires at least a BSN as well as advanced clinical training in a specialty. A patient educator helps patients and their families understand everything about the patient’s condition before they are discharged. They may work with patients in a diabetes clinic, childbirth preparation program or cardiac rehabilitation unit.
A desire to teach is one of the most important qualities in a good nurse educator as well as a solid clinical background. If the idea of sharing your knowledge with others is appealing, nursing education may be right for you.
Telenurses provide services to patients over the phone, offering advice in all kinds of cases, including emergencies. They answer calls at home that have been forwarded from call centers. A solid base in patient care from pediatrics to geriatrics would be beneficial. Triage or emergency room experience would be helpful as well.
This type of work is increasing as members of our aging population choose more and more often to reside at home. Also, the health industry’s need to save on staffing costs at health facilities is driving up the demand for alternative ways of handling health situations. With telenursing, the industry can better manage the nurse shortage while allowing individuals to be flexible in fitting their work schedules into the other areas of their lives.
The primary job of the risk manager is to seek out the root causes of mistakes and work to improve systems and processes. Medical malpractice suits are on the upswing, so opportunities for risk managers are growing at hospitals, ambulatory-care facilities, long-term-care centers, home-health-care companies and insurance companies.
Risk management nurses may work for a law firm and examine patient records during the course of a lawsuit. This high pressure job requires patience, political finesse, excellent communication and writing skills, and great tact. Risk management nurses must possess excellent leadership abilities and conflict-resolutions skills. A bachelor’s degree and risk-management certification are required for most risk-management nurses.
A forensic nurse provides care to victims of catastrophic accidents and interpersonal violence whose trauma may be relevant to legal proceedings. They may work in such areas as domestic, child or elder abuse, psychiatric cases, worker’s compensation, death investigations and motor vehicle accidents. Wherever healthcare and law intersect, there is a need for a forensic nurse.
Forensic nurses must be able to be objective and meet the needs of the legal arena, such as providing documentation and collecting specimens that need to be used during legal procedures and court cases. Other requirements for this job are the ability to work independently, assess situations quickly, and create a unique plan of care for an individual. Also, this job presents the challenge of working exclusively with patients who have been traumatized, victimized, and who may have great psychological as well as medical needs.
Public Health Nursing
Public health nursing focuses on improving the health and quality of life of a community through the prevention and treatment of disease and other health conditions. A public health nurse surveys cases and promotes healthy behaviors such as hand washing, breastfeeding, proper nutrition and delivery of vaccinations.
Other areas of focus may include setting local priorities for health-related interventions, designing health education campaigns and disease prevention activities, providing direct health care services to at risk populations, and advocating with authorities to improve access to healthcare.
A nursing career can be rewarding, challenging and often lucrative with the right education and experience. Degrees come in several forms. You can opt for a one-year certificate which will prepare you for the Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) exam to a two-year associate’s degree in nursing. With a two-year degree and upwards, you can qualify to take the Registered Nurse (RN) exam. Beyond these, a four-year Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN), post-graduate Master of Science in Nursing (MSN), and Ph.D. in Nursing may open up more job opportunities and greater salary potential.