Currently, the US is going through a shortage of nurses that has only been made more apparent by the COVID-19 pandemic. The American Association of Nursing Colleges suggests that nurses have become some of the most highly sought-after healthcare professionals right now. People who decide to follow a career in nursing often make this choice because they feel called to help others and make a difference in the world. However, a nursing career is not always about treating patients at the bedside, and can take some nurses in a variety of different directions. Right now, the nursing shortage means that many nurses are feeling increasingly overwhelmed with direct patient care, leading some to even consider leaving the profession after the pressures and trauma caused by COVID-19, which has had a substantially negative impact on the mental health and wellbeing of many healthcare professionals including nurses.
The good news is that nurses who want to change their careers and move away from patient care as a result can do so while continuing to work in nursing and helping others, albeit from mostly behind the scenes. Whether you are a nurse looking for a change or need to find work that’s less emotionally and mentally taxing than working through a pandemic and a nursing shortage at the same time, here are some non-clinical careers in nursing that might be ideal for you to consider.
Is it Time to Consider a New Nursing Career?
No matter how long you have been working as a nurse, it’s natural to wonder if taking your nursing career in a different direction is going to be worth it. Change can be scary at the best of times, especially if you are entering the unknown and leaving the career position that you have gotten used to. Changing your nursing career direction to take on a role that is less clinical will often require training including getting an advanced degree like an MSN or DNP, which is just another reason to be sure that it is definitely the right decision for your future.
Why Choose a Non-Clinical Nursing Role?
There is a variety of roles that are available for nurses who no longer want to work in a clinical setting or directly with patients. Research, management, education, and administration are just some of the most popular healthcare areas where nurses are needed just as much as they are at the bedside of the patients. When you have an advanced nursing degree qualification, there are plenty of opportunities for you to find work in a range of non-clinical settings where you can continue putting your skills, expertise and knowledge as a nurse to good use. Some of the main reasons why nurses decide to move away from direct patient care and into non-clinical roles include:
Burnout and Impact of COVID-19:
This is one of the most common reasons right now for nurses wanting a change of direction. Many nurses have even considered leaving their roles as a nurse after the trauma of the COVID-19 pandemic, which left many nurses overwhelmed, overworked, and burned out due to the lack of support due to the nursing shortage and the lack of resources available to them while putting their own lives on the line to treat patients amidst a global pandemic. After working long and grueling shifts in full PPE and staying away from family members for months on end to avoid passing on the virus, many nurses have begun to wonder if it’s all actually worth it. While some have left the profession completely, many have decided that they still want to continue helping patients – just not in a role where their mental health is going to suffer.
Don’t Want to Work Directly with People:
Some people are just not right for a job that involves working with other people every day, and that’s okay. Some nurses realize that although they do like a lot of the aspects of their role, dealing with people face to face for long shifts on a day-to-day basis is too much for them. Nurses who are natural introverts, for example, might have trouble with this even though they have no problem empathizing with and being there for others. Nurses in this position might find that a non-clinical position is the ideal way to continue helping others as a nurse, but spend less direct time with patients. Administration or research are often good career choices for nurses who want to continue helping others but from behind the scenes rather than on the front line.
Prefer Sociable Working Hours:
The hours that you are required to work as a nurse are certainly not always the most sociable. Since nurses are needed 24/7, it’s not uncommon for nurses to find themselves working at the weekend and even through the night. While many employers offer additional pay to nurses who do the night shift, after some time you might find that it’s not worth the affect it has on your sleeping pattern and your overall health. If you want to work in a more standard 9-5 job but also want to continue helping others from a nursing role, a non-clinical position might be an ideal choice for you.
Can’t Handle Blood and Bodily Fluids:
Not everybody is cut out for some of the experiences that nurses have on the job. Being covered in blood or other bodily fluids is often a regular part of a shift and while some nurses learn to deal with it over time, others won’t ever be able to handle it, which can often be extremely frustrating for them. Thankfully, non-clinical nursing roles such as nurse educator or nurse leadership often involve less direct contact with bodily fluids and more behind-the-scenes work while still offering the option to make a difference.
Best Non-Clinical Nursing Roles:
If you’ve decided that a non-clinical nursing role might be a better option for you, here are some of the best options to consider:
Nurse Case Manager:
Nurse case managers are responsible for managing and organizing all aspects of a patient’s care throughout their hospital stay. This role is suitable for nurses who are highly organized and dedicated to ensuring that patients are provided with the best standards of care. You will also need to possess good leadership and communication skills to ensure that the patient’s care plan is accurately communicated to their key caregivers and that healthcare professionals in charge of looking after the patient have all the information that they need to collaborate to provide the best possible outcome.
If you like the idea of a career that allows you to continue helping others without the hectic schedule and emotionally taxing work that often comes hand in hand with nursing, working as a research analyst could be an ideal choice for you. These professionals often use the skills and knowledge that they have acquired from their nursing career to gather relevant information, evaluate the data and conduct research that ultimately provides more information for the improvement of many different healthcare factors.
Many nurses who are interested in a non-clinical career will explore the business side of healthcare. In a medical sales role, your nursing expertise and experience will be highly sought-after for selling medical equipment and devices to healthcare organizations. Nurses are often better salespeople in this role simply because the customers tend to trust them more as they have first-hand experience working with similar equipment and devices, not to mention that most current and former nurses tend to be seen as people who have integrity and are honest.
If you love teaching others and sharing your knowledge and skills, a career in nursing education could be the right fit for you. Currently, nurse educators are in higher demand than ever before and the shortage of good education professionals in this field is one of the main contributing factors when it comes to the nursing shortage. Nurse educators typically work in nursing schools and colleges, delivering lectures and classes to the next generation of nurses. To get into this role, you will need to achieve an advanced degree such as a doctorate or Ph.D. in nursing.
If you possess or are in the process of getting an advanced nursing degree, particularly a degree at the doctorate level, you may want to consider a career as a nursing consultant. Consultants often work on a self-employed basis which makes it a good career option for nurses who would rather be their own boss. They often work closely with healthcare organizations to address various issues and improve the efficiency of the organization as a whole while focusing on raising the standards and outcomes of patient care.
After the COVID-19 pandemic, many nurses are beginning to wonder if this is the right career choice for them. The good news is that even if working directly with patients isn’t a good fit for you as a nurse, there are several non-clinical roles that are ideal for nurses who’d like to continue helping others from a different setting.
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