Leaving the Bedside: Job Options for New Paths in Nursing
From telephonic nursing to working for a staffing agency, there are many career alternatives for nurses who want to leave bedside.
Are you a nurse in need of something new and different but you don’t know what it is — you just know you need a change? If you’re also back from your annual vacation and still don’t feel excited and energized by your current job, perhaps it’s time to start thinking about a new direction.
Options for Modern Nurses
What if you discovered that there were options for nurses to keep on nursing but have more balance between your work time and your personal life? In the age of modern nursing, career opportunities for qualified nurses reach well beyond the scope of working a full-time position within large medical institutions.
Many RNs today are choosing to be more like freewheeling entrepreneurs in control of their fate and fortunes and are taking more time to try many things, instead of settling for set routines. Going the route of freelancers and independent contractors, nurses are able to set limits on hours worked and vary their jobs to meet their personal and family needs.
The motivation behind joining the ranks of entrepreneurial nurses is often one or more of the following situations:
• The nurse is suffering burnout from the stress of a high-powered hospital position.
• The nurse may seek more flexibility and control of hours and shifts worked.
• Personal circumstances make working from home more desirable.
• A passion for nursing, yet a passion to travel and see the world, too
• Happier when utilizing nursing knowledge while writing and doing research
• Tired of taking on night, holiday and weekend shifts
• Not enough “me” time
• Ready to retire and wants to do something part-time
• Boredom with the same-old, same-old
• Wanting to be the boss of “me”
What's Out There?
First of all, you no longer have to stay at a job where you aren’t fulfilled and happy. With nurses being in H-O-T demand in the job market around the globe, you have the option to pick and choose where and how you want to work.
You may decide to do your own thing for a short period and then go back to the big hospital job. Or you may like the flexibility of doing many smaller jobs, one right after another. The beauty is, as a contemporary working nurse, the decision is yours to make.
So what’s out there after nursing school, or after a job that’s helped you hone your professional skills but is basically driving you nuts? We found a variety of options worth investigating. Some — but not all — require an RN degree. There are some opportunities that could be full time, like consulting/independent contractor, and others that could be done on a part-time basis or moonlighting for extra cash.
From the ER to the LR
Depending on your situation, you might want to consider these options as interim situations until you discover the perfect dream job or complete your specialty training. Ultimately, trying out new opportunities like these may actually help you make decisions about where you want to focus your career. For example, you may find out you absolutely love doing operations management rather than clinical practice; if so, then go back to school to pursue further training for a higher degree.
If you’ve got kids and you want to spend more time with them, you might want to consider relocating from the ER to the LR (living room). There are several large healthcare staffing companies out there that hire nurses for a variety of jobs that can be done from the comfort of their own homes, such as:
Telephonic Case Management
Insurance companies are hiring RNs with prior clinical experience to manage disability cases by telephone from home. Telephonic case management nurses help ensure that the interests of all parties concerned — patients, employers and insurance companies — are fairly represented. Nurses with strong computer skills, time management ability, and a good customer service attitude can find highly competitive salary and benefits packages and still work from home.
Transcriptionists take recordings made by physicians and other healthcare professionals and transcribe them into written medical reports. These work-at-home professional nurses take some of the administrative burden off their client’s shoulders. The assignment is a perfect blend of using your knowledge and setting your own hours, and is virtually stress-free if you’re a fast and accurate typist.
It’s possible to get clients through a staffing agency or develop a home-based business on your own by contacting doctors and medical groups directly with a marketing plan for your skills. Compensation varies, with some companies paying by the hour and others by the number of lines transcribed.
If you’re an independent contractor, you may be able to get clients to sign a monthly retainer agreement for your services. By the way, the Bureau of Labor and Statistics has projected that medical transcription services will experience faster-than-average growth through at least the next eight years, if not beyond.
Telehealth nursing is also called triage nursing. It requires a strong nursing background but allows the skilled nurse to call the shots for his or her schedule and work from home. This industry has companies that hire nurses to work with patients by phone to answer health questions, help in assessing patient care, and provide disease management services for chronically ill patients.
On the Road Again
The opposite of staying at home is traveling, and if you’re a nurse with wanderlust, travel nursing might just be your ticket to ride. There are opportunities available to travel around the country or even around the world. Assignments usually require a minimum time commitment (i.e. three months at one location) from the nurse. With travel expenses, housing, and health and life insurance covered by the travel nursing agency, as well as a highly competitive salary package, this is a perfect opportunity for nurses looking for adventure.
Another benefit to travel nursing is it can widen your horizons in other ways by enhancing both your resume and advancing your nursing career. Many retired nurses also find time for a stint of travel nursing, taking advantage of the all-expenses-paid trip and earning some cash while visiting family and/or friends at the same time.
If you’re looking for work that is less physically demanding than hospital service, you might want to consider full- or part-time home healthcare work. Agency-generated positions generally are caring for homebound continuous care patients and require a specified commitment of hours from the home health worker. Pay is not traditionally as high as hospital work.
With baby boomers aging in droves, the trend for home care nurses will most likely cause a rise in competitive salaries and nurses could possibly market their skills to the highest bidder. Whether using home care staffing agencies or simply printing up your own brochure and putting the word out at your local churches, medical offices, gyms and community service boards, a truly resourceful nurse should have no trouble finding a ready market for private nursing services.
Are you looking to take a time-out but don’t want to totally abandon your hard-won nursing credentials? Or perhaps you’re retired but still up on your game? Consider applying for your community’s annual flu shot clinics and/or get on the list of substitute school nurses for your area’s school district.
No matter what direction you decide to take your career, if you’re a nurse with entrepreneurial skills as well as medical ones, your future looks very bright. So why not go for it? You can always go back to a more traditional nursing career. It’s your call — and your life.
Katy Allgeyer is an artist and freelance writer. She is a columnist for Working World and Working Nurse magazines. Her features have appeared there and in Feng Shui Times, Art of WellBeing, and You & Me Magazine.