12 Low-Anxiety Nursing Jobs
Alarms go off in your sleep. You jump when you hear, "Code nine, produce department" overhead in the grocery store. If you're finding it increasingly difficult to turn off your nurse brain and unwind when you're away from work, it may be time to reconsider a less anxiety-inducing nursing role.
This guide shares 12 low-anxiety nursing jobs that allow you to continue caring for patients while you decompress from a high-stress environment.
12 Nursing Jobs for Nurses With Anxiety
In 2021, the American Nurses Association conducted a study to measure the status of nurses' well-being as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Nurses reported experiencing burnout and exhaustion — and 34% of nurses reported being "not emotionally healthy."
According to the study, nearly half of nurses were considering leaving their current positions.
Nurses working in high-acuity environments had the highest incidence of poor emotional well-being. The contributing factors were experiencing "extremely stressful, disturbing, or traumatic events."
Nurses in the following areas reported the highest rates of poor emotional well-being:
- Intensive care unit (ICU)
- Emergency department
- Acute care
- Nurse managers
If you're a nurse experiencing anxiety, know that you're not alone. Having healthy emotional well-being is crucial to be present for your patients at work.
Here's the good news: You can find a less stressful nursing job without leaving the profession altogether. We provide 12 low-anxiety nursing jobs that allow you to continue caring for patients and pursuing your passion.
1. Preoperative/Postanesthesia Care Unit Nurse
Nurses enjoy working in the preoperative and postanesthesia care unit (PACU) of a hospital thanks to a flexible schedule with fewer nights and weekends. Patient care is typically less intense than inpatient units. In the preoperative area, you'll get patients ready for surgery.
Nursing care includes placing intravenous lines, getting surgical consent, and completing necessary documentation. In the PACU, you'll take care of patients until they've recovered from surgery. You'll send them home or to an inpatient unit as soon as they're ready.
Most PACUs require critical care nursing experience or at least two years in acute care. You'll also need a registered nurse (RN) license and special certifications like basic life support (BLS), advanced cardiovascular life supprt (ACLS), and pediatric advanced life support (PALS).
2. Special Care Nursery Nurse
In the special care nursery, nurses care for patients with oxygen requirements or feeding challenges who don't require as much close monitoring as the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). You'll hear fewer anxiety-inducing alarms with less cardiorespiratory monitoring than the NICU.
Additionally, nurses in the special care nursery enjoy educating new parents or guardians as they prepare to take their babies home. To work in the special care nursery, you'll need an RN license and neonatal resuscitation program certification.
3. Outpatient Surgery Nurse
If the pace of a hospital is contributing to your anxiety, consider taking your skills to a less hectic environment. You'll have a similar role to an inpatient perioperative nurse in an outpatient surgery center. However, you'll see fewer complex surgeries than in a hospital, so you can relax knowing your patients will likely be stable.
Along with having an RN license, plan to become certified in skills like BLS, ACLS, and PALS.
4. Occupational Health Nurse
Have you noticed the nurses who place your tuberculosis screening always seem to be happy? That's because they've found a hospital job away from the chaos of the nursing unit.
Occupational health nurses are responsible for collecting bloodwork, health screenings, and helping staff navigate workplace injuries or exposures. Your work setting isn't limited to hospitals. Many corporate offices hire nurses to minimize risk for employees.
To become an occupational health nurse, you'll need an associate degree in nursing or bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) degree.
5. Palliative Care Nurse
Nurses in the ICU or long-term care settings frequently care for dying and chronically ill patients. It can be traumatizing to consistently watch patients die despite your best efforts. To take a break from this environment, consider a career as a palliative care nurse.
As a palliative care nurse, you'll help patients be comfortable when they're experiencing chronic disease or nearing death. You'll educate patients and families about comfort care and dispel misconceptions about end-of-life care.
If you have a licensed practical nurse or RN license, you can become a palliative care nurse. You may become a certified hospice and palliative nurse through the Hospice and Palliative Credentialing Center.
6. Bed Control Nurse
If you need a break from patient care but would like to continue working with familiar colleagues and systems, check out your hospital's bed control unit. As a bed control nurse, you'll help determine which unit a patient will go to when they are admitted to the hospital.
This department is ideal for ICU nurses interested in using their clinical judgment skills in more of a desk-job setting.
For this role, you'll need a bachelor's degree in nursing and at least two years of acute care experience. Having leadership experience as a charge nurse or manager is a plus.
7. Nurse Injector
Consider a cosmetic center or medspa if you're looking for a low-anxiety workplace away from the hospital setting. As a nurse injector, you'll administer cosmetic treatments like Botox and dermal fillers.
To work as a nurse injector, you'll need to be an RN and undergo specialized training. Once you've mastered injections, you may even work from home — Botox party anyone?
8. Nurse Wellness Coach
Nurse coaches serve as accountability partners in an individual's health plan. As a nurse coach, you'll spend 1-on-1 time with a client to discuss their wellness goals and how to reach them.
You may be hired by corporate wellness programs endorsed by insurance companies or work independently at your own practice. You'll need an RN license and certification to become a certified nurse coach.
9. School Nurse
If you enjoy working with children but seeing them in the hospital triggers anxiety, consider a career as a school nurse. Along with caring for kids' day-to-day illness and injuries, school nurses are responsible for managing children with chronic diseases at school.
Most school systems require nurses to have a BSN degree.
10. Nursing Instructor
Academic nurse educators are in high demand. In fact, a major contributing factor to the nursing shortage is a lack of qualified nursing instructors. Becoming a nursing instructor allows you to stay connected to the nursing profession while limiting the anxiety of patient care.
For this role, a master's degree is preferred. However, as a general rule, you can teach as long as you have a degree higher than the students you are teaching. For example, if you're teaching associate-degree nurses, you should have at least a BSN.
11. Utilization Review Nurse
If you love advocating for patients but desire to work from home, check out roles as a utilization review nurse.
You'll serve as a liaison between insurance companies and healthcare systems. Utilization review nurses check medical charts and billing to find out if the treatments and services patients are billed for are covered by insurance. You'll recommend adjustments to the patient's plan of care based on their needs and what insurance covers.
If you have an RN license, you can be hired by a hospital or insurance company as a utilization review nurse.
12. Telephone Triage Nurse
Another way to change to a less stressful environment is to become a telephone triage nurse.
You'll help patients seek the appropriate level of care while working from a call center or even from home.
To become a telephone triage nurse, you should have an RN license and acute care experience. Other job requirements may include experience with customer service and critical thinking abilities.
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