Non-Clinical Job Options for Nurses

Nurses in training
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Some nurses may seek non-clinical roles at some point in their careers. A non-clinical job is one that does not involve direct patient care. Nurses may seek non-clinical jobs for a variety of reasons.

Some of the most common reasons include:

  • Mental stress, general burn-out
  • Physical limitations: Nursing is a physically demanding job requiring standing for very long periods of time. Physical limitations may include the inability to stand for long periods due to illness, injury, or age. Other physical limitations include arthritis or allergies.
  • Pursuing other interests: Some nurses just find that they are drawn to other interests or want a new challenge or learning experience. This could include areas such as teaching, management, operations, consulting, health finance, healthcare IT, process improvement, to name a few.

Non-clinical Job Options for Nurses

Nurses have a variety of options from which to choose. Many options for nurses are similar to some of the non-clinical careers for physicians. Below are a few options:

  • Healthcare recruiting
  • Healthcare Information Technology (HIT), Nursing Informatics
  • Teaching, training: Nursing school, science teacher, medical certifications, etc.
  • Medical Writer
  • Patient advocate: nurses often serve as successful patient advocates due to not only their clinical knowledge but also their knowledge of how the healthcare system works.
  • Healthcare Executive, hospital administrator, Chief Nursing Officer.
  • Medical consulting - nurses may consult with medical practices, insurance companies, pharmaceutical companies, law firms, or hospitals on a variety of areas of expertise within the medical and nursing fields.
  • Legal Nurse Consultant: nurses may provide clinical expertise and analysis on medical liability cases, or criminal cases needing medical forensic analysis or medical expert testimony.
  • Business owner, independent consultant - Some nurses may incorporate themselves as a business, and provide a plethora of services incorporating many of the above roles into their business.

Victoria Powell, RN, CCM, left her clinical nursing career years ago, due to a latex allergy. "This was before most latex-free items were created," Victoria stated. Now the owner of her own consulting firm, VP Medical Consulting, Powell shared some additional non-clinical job options for nurses, including "case managers, nurse life care planners, agency owners, speaking, coaching, legal nurse consultants, medical equipment sales, training, ​risk managers, utilization review, Joint Commission auditors, home assessment specialists for nursing home and related insurance policies."

What's to Like About Non-clinical Nursing Jobs

What are some of the benefits to nurses working in a clinical role? "That depends greatly on the type of non-clinical role," Powell shared. "For me, I own my company, so the advantages include being able to pick and choose my jobs, tax advantages, flexible schedule, no one to answer to other than my clients, and the freedom to do things the way I think works best."

She also mentioned that her non-clinical role is not as physically demanding, and she no longer has any exposure to latex. Plus, she is now able to focus on her areas of interest, and therefore her non-clinical job is more enjoyable to her.

Challenges of Non-clinical Careers for Nurses

Owning a business is "the hardest job I've ever loved," according to Victoria Powell. She still works very long hours, as she has to be available to clients at all times. Although this role isn't as physically demanding as clinical nursing, it is very mentally challenging, and she doesn't really have anyone to bounce ideas off. Additionally, the pressure of succeeding rests squarely on her shoulders. "If I am sick or disabled, the business could fail," Powell added.

Advice for Nurses Seeking Non-clinical Jobs and Careers

Victoria Powell recommends joining professional associations such as the National Nurses in Business Association (NNBA), and related support organizations. Networking with nurses in non-clinical roles is another tactic she suggested.

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