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There are many reasons that nurses look for extra income or a new job. Layoffs (I'm looking at you, COVID-19), high-stress work environments (COVID-19 once again), heavy workloads, and workplace injuries can all motivate a nurse to look for alternative opportunities outside the clinical realm.

Currently, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, "Registered nurses work in hospitals, physicians' offices, home healthcare services, and nursing care facilities." While nurses are vital for clinical positions, history has shown that nurses can also develop the skills needed to negotiate their way into expanded roles and even start businesses.

During the late 1800s, entrepreneurial nurses established private duty registries to match qualified nurses to patients and physicians. This practice continued into the mid-1900s when the two world wars revealed the need for critical care and specialized skills, and hospitals became the centers of healthcare and nursing education. Within a few decades, colleges and universities took over nursing education to provide nurses with the knowledge to care for more complex patients, as well as prepare them for leadership roles.

Today's registered nurses are highly trained, resourceful, and prepared to take on new challenges. If you seek a change and have the right skills, here is a peek into how a nursing degree can open new doors for you.

Patient-Facing Opportunities

Advanced Practice Nurse

  • With a Master's or Doctorate degree, you can practice in various hospital and community settings.
  • Consider becoming a Nurse Practitioner, Certified Nurse-Midwife, Clinical Nurse Specialist, or Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist.

Travel Nurse

  • If you're flexible, love to travel, and have a couple of years of experience, a travel nurse position may suit your lifestyle.
  • Varied assignments mean that you will never get bored. However, if you don't like change, it's best to pass this one up.

Flight Nurse

  • If you thrive on challenges and adrenaline and have experience in both ICU and ER settings, flight nursing might fulfill your need for excitement.
  • You must be a critical thinker and able to work under extreme pressure and varied conditions.

Non-Patient Facing Opportunities

Nurse Manager

  • Do you and others consider yourself a good leader? Consider a management position.
  • A dual MSN/MHA program is a great option that can help you snag that job.

Nurse Educator

  • Do you have a desire to help shape the next generation of nurses? You might enjoy teaching in an educational institution or as a staff developer at your hospital.
  • You will need at least a Master's Degree and a strong clinical background.

Informatics Nurse

  • Do you love technology? Nurse informatics specialists assist the Information Technology (IT) department with designing and improving hospital-wide systems.
  • A professional certification or Master's degree is beneficial.

Work From Home

Telehealth Nursing

  • If you are a self-starter, enjoy talking with patients, have good assessment skills, and don't mind sitting at a computer all day, you may enjoy working as a Telehealth Nurse.
  • COVID-19 has created many new opportunities.

Nurse Case Manager

  • Do you enjoy patient teaching? Do you enjoy helping your patients navigate the healthcare system? Consider case management as a viable career.
  • You will design patient-centered care plans and coordinate patient care with providers and insurance companies.

Legal Nurse Consultant

  • Do you enjoy the legal process? Use your nursing knowledge to assist attorneys in understanding the contents of medical records.
  • You can start your own business or work for a law firm, insurance agency, government agency, healthcare facility, or other agency.

Work for a Private Company

Pharmaceutical or Medical Supply Companies

  • Leverage your experience to help develop new medicines or work as a sales representative.
  • Good communication skills are a must, as well as attention to detail.

Insurance Companies

  • Work as a Quality Management Nurse or Health Coach.
  • You can assist the company in collecting data, evaluating claims, and managing costs, or help patients reach their health goals.

Entrepreneurship

If you aren't motivated by the options listed above, think about using your nursing skills for an entrepreneurial venture. The same skills that make you a great nurse - communication, problem-solving, organization, persistence, and autonomy - can also help you succeed in business.

Nurse Health Coach

  • If you have a strong desire to help patients live a healthier life, consider becoming a Certified Health Coach.
  • You will have the option to work in various settings, or even start a private practice.

Nurse Writer

  • Do you enjoy writing? Being a nurse writer can allow your creative juices to flow while bringing in some extra income. Some nurses even turn writing into a full-time gig.
  • You could start a blog, write for nursing and health-related websites, or even write copy for healthcare agencies.

Are you looking for a side hustle or seeking to jump headfirst into a challenging career pivot? If you have a nursing degree and the right experience, opportunities are waiting for you. Explore your options, map out a plan, and take charge of your future.

Janine Kelbach, RNC-OB
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