Healthcare has always been a challenging field, and nurses working in direct patient care areas are likely to report burnout. Stress in the hospital can run high; nurses who work 12-hour shifts and experience bullying from coworkers and physicians may feel that they chose the wrong path and even consider leaving the field. However, what if your nursing career could be different? What if you could still use your empathic and caring heart to care for patients in a less stressful environment? As we enter a new era in healthcare, remote work for nurses is becoming much more attainable. Nurses are now relied on to utilize their degrees, knowledge, and skills in non-traditional nursing positions. Could remote work be your next career move?

How Can I Work From Home as a Nurse?

Many options are available for nurses who want to work from home. Opportunities include case managers or chart reviewers for hospitals. You may find a position working for an insurance, pharmaceutical, or medical device company. Telephonic triage and health coaching are fast-growing careers that enable you to provide care to patients while allowing them to stay home. Take the time to research remote positions and consider your specific skills and experience. Which patient populations do you enjoy? Understanding what jobs are available and where your skills are most valued can make a big difference in your career.

Am I a Real Nurse If I'm Not Doing Bedside Care?

Absolutely! You're always making a difference in a patient's life, whether you're talking to them on the phone from several states away or submitting an appeal to help them get a life-changing medication or treatment. You may give telephonic medical advice to an immunocompromised patient to save them a clinic visit or provide injection training to a patient who has just begun taking a specialty medication and feels apprehensive. Each patient's healthcare journey involves an entire team - from those on the frontline to the invisible workers providing resources and coordinating care. Patient care doesn't end after the patient leaves the clinic or hospital, and nurses help provide that continued care. Regardless of your nursing position or where you work, your role is vital to the patient's plan of care.

Will I Lose My Nursing Skills?

Even if you find the perfect remote job, you may still feel inclined to provide direct patient-to-nurse contact. In these cases, you can take on a per diem or PRN position in a hospital or outpatient clinic. Doing so will allow you to maintain some level of face-to-face patient contact and can help refresh you as you look forward to a workweek at home. On the other hand, you may feel completely content working from home and never inserting an IV line or urinary catheter again. That's perfectly okay. You worked hard for your degree, and it's up to you to decide how you use it and which aspect of patient care is the best fit for you.

Is the Salary Comparable?

Salaries can vary depending on where you work; see basic RN salary data. Some companies have a pay scale based on your particular zip code. You may also find that you can work remotely for your current facility while keeping your salary. For nurses in rural areas with customarily low wages, working for a larger company can offer significant benefits. If you live in a small town but land a job with a big corporation, your paycheck will likely be higher than the standard salaries in a local hospital or clinic. Living in a low-cost area while earning a salary from a company in a large city can help you monetize your degree to the fullest. Although healthcare is about serving the patients, nursing degrees are still an investment, and nurses spend precious hours of their lives caring for patients. All nurses deserve appropriate compensation for their time, knowledgebase, and skills.

Working from home isn't for everyone - especially if you are a social person who enjoys face-to-face patient contact. However, working from home can be the perfect solution for nurses considering a different career path. Remote work can result in decreased stress and more productivity. If you are in a high-stress environment, consider taking a step back from the bedside. Nurses who take care of themselves provide better care to their patients. Regardless of your path, your work is still valuable and can even change lives. It's entirely possible to have a fulfilling, non-bedside career while still making a difference in your patient's lives and the healthcare industry.

Emily Lynch, RN, BSN
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