5 Alternative Careers for Nurses

alternative nursing careersby Sarah Stasik

Nursing can be a very rewarding job, but it can also be stressful.  

If you've tried all the tips and can't seem to shake nursing burnout, you might want to consider putting your credentials to use in an alternative nursing career. 

5 Career Alternatives for Nurses

Check out these alternative nursing careers that let you put your nursing skills and knowledge to work if you need a break from the hustle of hospital healthcare or even treating patients altogether.

1. Start your own patient care business 

"Nurses that decide to move on from working with us can end up in a variety of roles," says Jayne Byrne, a Project Coordinator for FirstCare Nursing Homes.  

"But as nurses have both a range and depth of care knowledge, going back in to care in some form is an obvious fit. Recently a couple of our nurses have gone on to start their own home care business. It's a perfect fit to continue using their experience.” 

“The beauty is that it's possible to start this up relatively quickly and cost free as an individual, or grow it as a business." 

Your own patient care business lets you keep working with patients, but at your own pace. 

2. Freelance as a non-healthcare professional 

Consider taking what makes you a great nurse and putting it into an endeavor that doesn't involve patient care at all. 

"When I saw the decline in how much time I could spend with each patient, I found I was losing my ability to truly care for people," says Kelly Verret, RN, BA, M.Div.  

"I got my Masters in Divinity and now help people around the globe with a practice called Focusing, guiding people through the process of learning how to be fully present when they listen to others as well as themselves. This gives me the capacity to walk with people in their own healing process in a different way than nursing."

3. Become an advocate 

With a complex healthcare system that seems impossible to navigate for many patients, advocacy is becoming increasingly important.  

Some hospitals hire people as patient advocates, and many nurses are finding work outside of facilities as private healthcare advocates that can help families understand their options and how to get the best care possible. 

"I was forced to take an alternative career when I was almost killed in a car accident," says Michelle Katz, LPN, MSN. "I actually became a healthcare advocate, which culminated all my experience." 

4. Go into healthcare research 

If dealing with people constantly is part of the stress driving you to seek a different career for nurses, consider putting your medical knowledge to work in a lab.  

Research jobs let you take part in work that studies disease, works on new cures and tests existing medications. 

5. Teach others critical nursing skills 

One alternative career for nurses that lets you stay in the field without treating patients is nurse education.  

Some nurse educators work with students in clinical environments, but you can find work in classrooms or online teaching environments too.

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