Non-Clinical Job Opportunities for Nurses

6 Nursing Careers You May Not Know About

Hospital administration team

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At a certain point in their career, a nurse may decide to seek a role in which their clinical expertise is used for non-clinical purposes. Even though the nurse may no longer have direct patient contact, they can still contribute invaluably to a patient's care either directly or indirectly. There may be many reasons why a nurse may decide to do so:

  • Mental stress and burnout: According to a 2018 review of studies in BMC Family Practice, no less than 28% of primary care nurses experience high emotional exhaustion as a result of the rigors of their job.
  • Job satisfaction: The same study found that 31% of nurses felt they had achieved low personal accomplishment in their role.
  • Physical demands: Nursing is a physically demanding field requiring long hours on one's feet. Over time, this can a toll on a nurse's body. Age, injury, illness, or chronic medical conditions like arthritis can further add to the burden.
  • Ambition: Moving from a clinical to a non-clinical role is not always about unhappiness or dissatisfaction. It can be a smart career choice and a way to move into a senior position with greater responsibility, income, and opportunity for advancement.
  • Self-discovery: Working in a clinical setting can provide nurses the opportunity to discover their strengths and personal interests. While some nurses will expand the scope of their practice by specializing in certain fields, others may find that their strength lies in leadership, management, administration, or consulting.

Working in a non-clinical position does not make you any less of a nurse. The hands-on experience one gains as a nurse can be just as beneficial—and fulfilling—when channeled into opportunities that best suit you as an individual.

Job Opportunities

Nurses have a number of non-clinical career opportunities to choose from. Some of the jobs operate in a medical setting while others don't.

Chief Nursing Officer

A chief nursing officer is mandated by the hospital administration to maintain clinical and patient care standards. A chief nursing officer works closely with the hospital management to organize, direct, and coordinate services in compliance with government regulations and policies set by the board of trustees. 

In addition to overseeing the daily operations of the nursing staff, a chief nursing officer may shortlist, evaluates, and hire nurses as well as assist in educating them on the best healthcare practices. While most chief nursing officers are employed by hospitals, others work in larger nursing homes and care facilities.

Healthcare Recruiter

A healthcare recruiter is part of the human resources team and helps find qualified candidates for available positions. Practicing nurses often have insights as to what makes a great nursing candidate and can help ensure the best staff possible.

In addition to working within a hospital, some recruiters are employed by third-party recruiting firms, employment agencies, or temp services for traveling nurses. While most employment agencies do not require any formal education, hospitals may require further training and a certificate in human resource administration.

Patient Advocate

A patient advocate helps patients navigate the challenges that are often faced in a medical crisis, from assessing the appropriate care, obtaining approvals from insurance, and ensuring consistent care for the elderly or people with chronic conditions.

Nurses, arguably more than others, have the experience and insights needed to become effective advocates. Many such advocates are employed by insurance companies or non-profit organization as case managers or on-call liaisons.

Although, there are no formal education programs for patient advocates, more and more companies are requiring training and certification from a certifying body like the Patient Advocate Certification Board (PACB). 

Medical Consulting

There is a wide range of medical consulting jobs available to nurses. This is especially true in the pharmaceutical, medical devices, and insurance industries where nursing experience is considered an asset.

Nursing consultants are also valuable to healthcare consulting firms when advising clients on strategic planning, value-based care strategies, recruitment, and governance. Nursing consultants are even hired by law firms to help analyze medical forensics or provide expert medical testimony.

No specific educational background is needed to become a consultant, although senior positions may require a background in hospital administration or a degree in economics and finance.

Sales Representative

Pharmaceutical companies and medical device manufacturers are always on the lookout for healthcare professionals to join their medical sale teams. Rather than training someone with no medical background, companies like these value professionals who can communicate with doctors and hospital administrators in the same language.

The job requires no formal education and is ideal for those who prefer to work out of the home and manage their own daily and weekly schedules.

Nurse Educator

A nurse educator is a valuable way to give back to the profession by teaching the next generation of nursing professionals.

Much of a nurse educator’s day is spent in an office or classroom, giving lectures, advising students, attending faculty meetings, and managing administrative duties. On top of that, the educator must keep apprised of developments in the nursing and medical fields through continuing medical education.

Educators who oversee nurse candidates in clinical settings may divide their time between the college campus and a nearby hospital or healthcare facility. 

Unlike many of the other careers, becoming a nurse educator requires a significant investment in training and education. Most nurse educators complete a master’s degree in nursing, although a doctorate is required to teach at most universities. Other positions require a post-master’s certificate or a degree in education.

A Word From Verywell

The decision to move from a clinical nursing position to a non-clinical one can be difficult. It requires time and an honest assessment of your strengths, personal interests, and professional goals. It is also important to remember that a non-clinical job may not be as physically taxing but can often just as stressful.

To ascertain what type of career suits you best, consider joining a professional association like the National Nurses in Business Association (NNBA). Networking with nurses in non-clinical roles may provide you the insights needed to make the right choice for you as an individual.

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