One reason people are often attracted to the nursing profession is the endless job opportunities that are available, both in direct patient care and in non-clinical roles. This means it’s not uncommon for experienced nurses to start considering opportunities outside of the hospital setting at some point in their career.
Most non-hospital nursing jobs require a few years of clinical experience, and sometimes some additional education. It isn’t for everybody, but any nurse interested in exploring all the options available in the field is going to give some serious thought to moving into clinical roles outside of hospitals, or even beyond the clinical environment altogether.
Some are just looking for a change of pace and want to use the knowledge they’ve gained in new and interesting ways. Others have the entrepreneurial drive it takes to strike out on their own to build a business where their specialized knowledge is put to work advising clients on everything from healthcare law to healthy living.
Whether you’re interested in advancing with your current employer, considering opportunities with a new employer, or even looking to be the CEO of the next great start-up, your years of experience as a clinical practitioner can be very valuable, even outside of the hospital setting.
When starting a business it’s important to consult your state board of nursing, obtain the proper business licenses and liability insurance, and to consult with legal experts and tax professionals.
Here you’ll find 15 non-hospital nursing jobs available to RNs and other nurses:
#1 Nurse Health Coach
At this time, any Registered Nurse may call themself a “nurse coach” and offer health coaching services without having to hold any additional certification as long as the advice they offer doesn’t go beyond their scope of practice. This enables nurses to legally start their own business and coach others in their area of expertise. Also, many insurance companies hire nurses as health coaches in an effort to keep their customers as healthy as possible and reduce costs.
#2 Life Care Planner
As a business opportunity, a nurse can become a Life Care Planner and help patients with terminal illnesses or long-term medical needs develop a plan of care. A number of different organizations offer Life Care Planner certification (Nurse Life Care Planner Certification Board; International Commission on Health Care Certification; American Association of Nurse Life Care Planners). In order to become certified, previous nursing experience is required.
#3 Nurse Navigator
Owning your own business as a nurse navigator would be ideal for nurses who understand insurance policies and who are interested in helping patients obtain the care they need in a way they can afford. This opportunity is ideal for nurses who enjoy paperwork and research in addition to helping their patients.
#4 Academic Nurse Writer
If you have a graduate degree in nursing and excel in writing, you can author textbook chapters in your specialty, or even write and publish your own books. This job is closely aligned with nurse education.
#5 Legal Nurse Consultant
Attorneys hire legal nurse consultants to help interpret medical records and serve as expert witnesses. This business opportunity requires training and certification through the American Association of Legal Nurse Consultants.
#6 Hospice Nurse
Hospice nurses work for medical organizations, and spend much of their time caring for patients who are at the end of their lives in a home setting. They help patients by assisting with pain relief and help promote independence for as long as the patient is able. They also provide medical and emotional support for the family members of patients in their care.
#7 Public Health Nurse
Public Health Nurses are usually employed by state, public, or government entities and focus on the health of the community at large. Schools, community organizations (such as those that provide disaster relief), and community health clinics are some of the settings in which these nurses work.
#8 Occupational Nurse
These nurses work in places of business, and usually serve the employees of the business by leading programs that promote healthy living, prevention and safety.
#9 Concierge Nurse
If you are business minded, then starting a business as a concierge nurse and making house calls may be the right opportunity for you. In fact, this is historically how most nurses practiced until the 1940s. This is an area with huge growth potential.
#10 Forensic Nurse Consultant
There are great opportunities to leverage your previous hospital experience and work as a Forensic Nurse Consultant for law enforcement agencies and criminal defense attorneys and prosecutors. Certification through the International Association of Forensic Nurses (IAFN) is usually expected when offering these services.
#11 Nurse Case Manager
Do you want to work from home but would rather be an employee than a business owner? Nurse Case Management is definitely an area full of work-from-home opportunities. These jobs usually require previous experience, computer skills, and sometimes involve travel.
#12 Dialysis Nurse
Dialysis nurses have job opportunities in private practice and in-home care.
#13 Nurse Midwife
While the majority of Nurse Midwives are found working in hospitals, some of them practice in birth centers. While birth centers do have the equipment and skilled professionals necessary to ensure a safe birthing process, they focus on facilitating a non-invasive and natural birthing experience. Typically, birth centers are set up to simulate a home away from home experience. If an emergency arises, they may call an ambulance to transport the patient to the hospital.
#14 Mental Health Nurse
Mental health nurses often work in private clinics, educational settings, community settings, and other facilities. Some states also allow Psychiatric Nurse Practitioners to establish independent practices.
#15 Nurse Educator
Many opportunities exist for nurse educators outside of the hospital setting. Common settings for nurse educators include medical device manufacturing companies, community clinics and government offices, pharmaceutical companies, research facilities, textbook publishing companies, and, of course, colleges and universities. The opportunities are rapidly expanding due to the growth of online jobs, and the possibilities for self-employment.
Are you currently working in a non-traditional setting as a nurse outside of the hospital? Please leave a comment below telling us about your nursing practice in the non-hospital setting.