The Best Nursing Jobs for Parents and Guardians
Like nursing, parenting combines challenges with rewards, and doing both at the same time can seem daunting. But it doesn't have to be that way.
"I think many nurses, and especially new and soon-to-be nurses, have this image of the ER nurse working an 11-hour shift, leaving the hospital at 2:30 a.m," says Sarah Johnson, RN.
However, that's not always the case. There are a variety of roles in the nursing profession, some of which offer working parents and guardians flexible hours, less physically demanding shifts, or more consistent schedules, depending on what they're looking for.
This guide features information on parent and guardian-friendly positions provided by nursing professionals. Read on to explore the options.
Factors to Consider for Parents and Guardians in the Nursing Field
Office Hours: Many parents find that regular 9-5 hours allow them to work while their children attend school or daycare. "[Depending] on the office's hours, [parents] can often be off work in time to pick up the kids," Johnson says. Working full time, however, may mean parents care for patients all day and care for children all evening, which can be exhausting.
Flexible Hours: Positions offering the ability to schedule your own hours work well for parents who have children at different schools and who need to be driven to extracurricular activities. Some parents prefer to work at night and sleep while the kids are at school. Working weekends can also be beneficial, particularly if nurses have spouses or parents who can supervise the children.
Work-From-Home Shifts: Home-based jobs may be a good option for parents, depending on the ages and needs of their children. If the kids function with minimal supervision, nursing from home and parenting can co-exist.
Part Time vs. Full Time
Part Time: Part-time hours provide the best scenario for parents, but part-time nursing positions may not be easy to find. Traditional workplaces, such as hospitals and clinics, usually require long hours, and benefits that come with full-time hours may not be available to part-timers.
Part-time hours can also be inflexible. Parents of young or homeschooled children may find that travel nursing works for them. "You can travel to different parts of the country with your family and work 2-3 days per week while exploring on your off days," offers charge nurse Sandra Crawley, BSN, RN.
Full Time: Not all parents have the option to work part time, and full-time nursing can accommodate parenting if the working hours coincide with the children's school or daycare hours and after-school activities. Some parents work all weekend and take the weekdays off. With flexible and home-based full-time hours, nurses can divide their days between work and parenting.
Nursing often involves long hours walking and standing (even running), moving medical supplies and equipment, and helping patients get in and out of bed. Surgical, emergency room, long-term care, and healthcare clinical settings often require the most physically demanding nursing environments.
Working all day can leave parents too tired to play with their children or engage in family activities. Additionally, many nurses who are parents do not get enough sleep, exercise, and healthy meals — all of which make it harder to handle the physical challenges of nursing careers and parenting.
Some positions, however, do not involve as many physical demands. Examples of jobs that minimize or eliminate the time nurses spend on their feet include legal medical consulting, telephonic or phone nursing, and telemedicine. Many of these positions can be performed at home, with much of the time spent on the computer or telephone.
Top Nursing Jobs for Parents and Guardians
Doctor's Office Nurse
Nurses who work in doctors' offices assist physicians with physical examinations, updating patient records, ordering lab tests, performing phone triage, and handling routine procedures, such as injections, vaccines, throat cultures, and taking vital signs. The job can be physically demanding, and nurses spend a lot of time on their feet and often must lift heavy items.
"If it's a private practice, a nurse in a doctor's office essentially works a 9-5 like any other working person," Johnson says. "This is one of the most feasible nursing jobs for single mothers."
A regular and consistent weekday schedule makes doctor's office nursing an attractive option for working parents.
Payscale reports that nurses working in doctors' offices earn an average base salary of $57,330, and those who specialize in areas like pediatrics or obstetrics/gynecology can earn 4-7% more. Doctor's office nurses make the highest salaries in Indianapolis and Chicago.
Homecare nurses go to patients' homes to provide one-on-one care and typically use their own cars. Many of the patients are elderly and/or experiencing chronic illness. Homecare professionals administer medications, assess and monitor health and vital signs, drive patients to doctor appointments, help with personal needs and mobility, and offer companionship.
The work can be physically demanding, requiring nurses to lift and move patients and assist them with getting in and out of the car. They may also push patients in wheelchairs and help them from bed to chair.
According to Johnson, "You are generally provided with a list of patients you have to see in a given week and the autonomy and flexibility to work through that list however you see fit."
Payscale lists the base average annual salary for homecare nurses as $65,460.
"Homecare nursing is a great option for nurses with children because it provides predictable and consistent scheduling," Johnson adds.
Medical consultants work primarily from home, which allows parents to be present for their kids. Medical consulting jobs may or may not have set hours depending on the employer, and some shifts can be done in the evening after childrens' bedtimes.
Crawley offers a few examples of these types of positions, including "medical consultants for lawyers and insurance companies, or even as an after-hours triage phone nurse."
Legal nurse consultants assist law firms and insurance companies with malpractice and workers' compensation claims. They collect and organize evidence, identify standards of care, review health and billing records, and provide case analyses. Payscale lists the salary for legal nurse consultants at $78,070.
Phone triage nurses take patient calls and advise them whether to go to the emergency room or wait to schedule a doctor's appointment. The average base hourly rate for these nurses totals $23.07 per hour.
MDS (Minimum Data Set) Coordinator
According to Rosa Crumpton, RN, BSN, BS, MBA/HCM, "Working as an MDS coordinator is perfect for a parent that needs a job that has predictable hours and a bit of flexibility."
"MDS coordinators work in long-term and skilled nursing care facilities," Crumpton elaborates. "They help the team with assessments, care planning, and compliance with insurance and regulations."
The U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services requires the Minimum Data Set process for patients in the care of their medical facilities. MDS coordinators collect data, collate charts, create reports, and examine and maintain records. These professionals ensure that care plans lead to targeted outcomes. They must be detail-oriented and well-versed in Medicare and Medicaid billing methods and regulations.
Payscale lists the annual average base salary for MDS coordinators at $66,430 and reports that Chicago, Dallas, and Los Angeles pay the highest salaries.
Clinical Research Nurse
Crumpton also recommends a career as a clinical research nurse for parents.
"Clinical research nurses enjoy a lot of autonomy and tend to have a bit of flexibility with their schedule," Crumpton says.
These professionals work with patients who participate in clinical trials and need assistance from a nurse. They administer the study of medication, prepare reporting documentation, plan and coordinate daily patient schedules, and collect and record data samples. Their duties also include advising trial sponsors and recruiting, educating, and managing patients.
"Depending on the type of company that the nurse works for they can expect to work with new drugs, devices, and technologies," offers Crumpton.
Clinical research nurses need skills in case management, data collection, patient education, and regulatory compliance, along with extensive clinical experience and knowledge of clinical trials. Payscale reports an average annual base salary of $72,180 and shows wage increases for those with up to 10-19 years of experience.
Lactation nurses help mothers and babies with breastfeeding issues and concerns, such as difficulty latching, low milk supply, and breast pain. They also offer counseling on using breast pumps and transitioning back to work.
Lactation professionals work with individuals in hospitals, birthing centers, and clients' homes and also teach breastfeeding classes and lead support groups. They advise healthcare professionals about lactation as well.
Crumpton comments, "Lactation nurses enjoy working business hours while helping new mothers and babies work together in feeding. Lactation nurses get to spend a lot of face-to-face time with parents and babies while helping troubleshoot breastfeeding/chestfeeding issues."
Lactation nurse consultants earn a base salary of $58,720 per year, and those surveyed report high job satisfaction. Lactation consultants in Fairfield, California, bring in average salaries that total 47.5% of the national average. Employers in Fort Worth and Chicago also pay higher than average.
Meet Our Contributors
Sarah Johnson, RN is a Brooklyn, New York-based RN with years of experience working in both primary care and senior living settings. Her nursing interests include culturally sensitive and competent care, pain management, and helping address social determinants of health in marginalized communities. When not working, she is a mom and writer.
Sandra Crawley, BSN, RN is a charge nurse in a family birth center. She provides medical expertise and care for expectant mothers and their newborn babies. Crawley takes pride in knowing she can be of service to families during this memorable and life-changing time.
Rosa Crumpton, RN, BSN, BS, MBA/HCM helps healthcare professionals gain clarity, fulfillment, and balance in their lives.
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