Nursing affords a wide variety of work settings. What if you don’t want to be a floor nurse? Maybe you’ve tried it and it’s just not for you. Maybe your health isn’t what it used to be. In any case, you do have options. Here are a few!
Psychiatric Mental Health Nursing
Psychiatric nurses work in psychiatric hospitals, treatment centers, rehabilitation centers, hospital ERs, and correctional settings. You typically are not involved in bedside care, but you’d be responsible for assessing mental health, monitoring and administering psychotropic medications, and being able to therapeutically communicate with psychiatric patients.
How to do it: You can become a “psych” nurse with your Associate’s in Nursing degree. As for advancement, you can go on to get your Master’s and become what’s called a Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner.
Salary: A psychiatric nurse will make about as much as a floor nurse might (a mean national wage of about $60,000). A PMHNP will make a Nurse Practitioner’s salary, ranging from $80,000-120,000.
Outlook: About 41,450 psychiatric nurses are employed in mental health facilities in 2012 (inpatient and outpatient), representing about 1 out of every 63 nurses.
Not sure what all those Nursing Degrees mean? Read CNA, LPN, RN, ADN, BSN. Which Nursing Degree is Right for You?
Physician’s Office Nurses
This is more of a semi-bedside nursing. While you are dealing directly with patients, you usually aren’t as pressured or ‘down and dirty’ as a floor nurse on a daily basis. Nurses at doctor’s offices often screen patients, take vitals, do assessments, and handle administrative tasks. In this category, physician’s offices, dental offices, physical and mental health therapists, and labatory/diagnostic offices are all included. The biggest chunk by far, of course, is the physician’s office.
How to do it: It sounds harder than it is to land one of these jobs (although admittedly it’s not easy). Your best bet is to put your best foot forward and start applying everywhere around you. Do a search engine search for keywords like Primary Care, Neurology, Gastroenterology, and every other type of practice you can think of, then start your outreach.
Salary: The office nurse salary is usually lower than a nurse working in a hospital. Not always, but usually. If you have experience and have a lot of responsibility in the office, you can expect a higher pay rate. The pay also depends on the specialty, the types of patients the practice provides care for, the size of the practice, and the experience of the nurse.
Outlook: About 192,070 nurses work in doctor’s offices. That’s about 7% of the total nurse workforce, or about 1 out of 14 nurses.
Nurse Case Manager
Another option for non-bedside nursing is a nursing case manager. As a Nursing Case Manager, you would coordinate the patient’s care between the different facilities, healthcare providers, and community resources.
You’d focus on the long-term care of their patients. You’d arrange transfers from units or facilities, follow up on their patient’s well-being, and act as a hub, or central point, of their patient’s overall healthcare.
You’ll be making a lot of calls, keeping in contact with people, writing emails, and organizing.
How to do it: Just like a psych nurse, all you need is an RN after your name. However, you can increase your credentials by getting a certificate from the ANCC (after working as a case manager for a few years). If you’re just starting out and want something to look good on a resume, consider practicing bedside nursing for a year or two to get some experience. Or seek a certificate from the Commission for Case Management Certification.
Salary: A nurse case manager will make about as much as a floor nurse, again starting from about $60,000 without prior experience. You can expect to make more with experience, as well as if you had a certificate.
Nursing Informatacists are “tech” nurses. You would often oversee the technical side of nursing, deal with documentation software, work with other nurses to use technology, help with web education, and supervise and maintain tele-monitoring.
You will most likely be troubleshooting problems, as well as taking suggestions or complaints from nursing staff about documentation problems. You’ll help streamline the process and help make their documentation easier and less time-consuming. Very rarely will you have to do any bedside nursing duties, if ever at all.
How to do it: Get a Master’s degree in Nursing Informatics.
Salary: Sources differ, but you can expect a higher salary than a floor nurse if you have a graduate degree and certification. Expect a range of $60,000-80,000.
School Nurses work with children at school. They may care for children with chronic illnesses (like asthma or bronchitis), or be there to handle health events like accidents. They may take part in educating about health and safety.
How to do it: Check with the requirements in your State, or even your County. They may be different. Valuable experience is med-surge, pediatrics, or emergency care nursing. The public education system is undergoing financial strain, however, so this field may be competitive and smaller as time goes on.
Salary: You probably will be making less than a regular floor nurse, since you will be following the public school schedule (no work in the summer). You can expect a salary around $40,000-50,000.
Legal Nursing Consultant
This field is more suited toward experienced nurses who have a need or desire to leave bedside nursing. Legal Nursing Consultants need to be adept at reading and parsing through medical records, have a well-rounded understanding of medical terminology, and strong flexibility and problem-solving skills.
They work in law offices, insurance companies, government offices, or any other setting where a general medical knowledge is needed in legal proceedings. As such, most Legal Nursing Consultants have a lot of bedside nursing experience already under their belt.
How to do it: Work as a floor nurse, preferably med-surge, for a number of years (at least five, typically). A BSN would be a good idea as well. You can opt to get a Legal Nurse Consultant certificate, but it is not required.
Salary: Depends on whether you work for a company or as an independent contractor. Accounts vary, but depending on skill set, specialization, and credentials, Legal Nurses charge anywhere from $60-250 an hour.
Nurse Researchers are experts in the design and implementation of clinical studies and ethics. Knowing how to balance the two priorities of experimentation against patient safety is paramount. It is sometimes difficult to keep the patient safe while using a new drug or medical technique. Nurse Researchers also write results and dissertations on research studies, apply for grants, and work in a variety of settings.
How to do it: Research nursing may require a long-term commitment and can be heavily dependent on experience. Experience as a med-surge or ICU nurse is valuable, but at the very least you will need your BSN and often some type of regular work experience. It would also be valuable to get a second degree in Clinical Research. You can then get credentialed as a CCRP (Certified Clinical Research Professional) by The Society of Clinical Research Associates.
Salary: Since this is often a field that requires higher education and experience, expect a higher salary in the range of $70,000-90,000.
Diabetes Management Nurse
Diabetes Management Nurses advise and educate patients with diabetes. Often, they monitor patients on an outpatient basis, educate on maintaining glycemic (blood sugar) levels, how to self-administer medications, and other need-to-knows.
How to do it: All you need is to be an RN.
These are jobs that aren’t big enough to consider “fields” of nursing. There are a lot of them, probably more than you can imagine. Most of them have similarities with Emergency Nursing, and experience in that field would be invaluable in landing these obscure jobs. Here are a few:
Cruise Ship Nursing:
Cruise ships have physicians, nurse practitioners, and nurses on board to handle both emergencies and minor upsets. Cruise ships often have quite a functional medical facility, with X-ray machines, a small pharmacy, and a small medical team.
How to Be One: Cruise ship nursing can be very competitive and selective. Most recruiters look for nurses with emergency or ambulatory experience. ACLS certification is always a big plus.
Salary: Cruise ship nurses usually measure their pay by the month. They often work for 2-6 months (depending on the company), then have time off of a few weeks’ length. The pay varies on different accounts, but can be from $3000 to $5000 a month.
Summer camps, wilderness camps, and others have nurses on-site to deal with emergencies. A camp nurse can be an RN or LPN, and will be traveling to the camp for the duration of the job. They handle sick campers, minor injuries, and of course provide basic triage to determine if an injury needs to be taken to a higher level of care.
How to Be One: Just apply. Search camp nurse jobs [your area] into google and start applying.
Salary: Camp nurses get paid, on overall, less than a steady full-time job. However, the beauty of camp nursing is it’s usually more of a seasonal, ‘side’ job. Many nurses who want to accompany their children to camps work at the same time. Camp nurse salaries are paid by week rather than hourly. The pay typically ranges from $350-500 per week, often paid in 8-week “sessions.” That means an 8-week summer camp would pay about $2800 – $4000!
Parish Nurses (faith community nurses) work in churches, and usually perform preventative care for the attendees and other members of the overall community. Health promotion, education, and health advising are common duties for Parish nurses.
Salary and Outlook: According to the International Parish Nurse Resource Center, there are about 15,000 parish nurses, with about 35% compensated for their work.
How to Be One:ParishNurses.org has resources for classes and courses to be trained to be a parish nurse. Most paid positions are associated with local hospitals, and can be found by searching for local programs. Other than that, being involved in your community and having a willing spirit are the best ways to become parish nurse.
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Can you think of more unique non-bedside fields in nursing? Let me know in the comments below and I’ll add it to the article!