The 10 best alternative careers for nurses

by John
Nurses Career

It is no secret that nursing is a demanding job, and many nurses are ready to change careers after years of providing care for patients. Since a nursing degree is so specialized, it seems challenging to transfer it to other fields, especially for those who have not previously worked outside of healthcare.

However, a variety of sectors want nurses with knowledge of the field and the abilities that come with experience working as a bedside nurse. Through careful marketing, nurses can transition to everything from sales to the journalism industry. This article will explore the top 10 careers available to Registered Nurses (RNs) who are prepared to change careers.

1. Health writer

This is a great career choice for anyone who wants to use the knowledge acquired during their time in the medical field but would like a change from bedside nursing. 

Health writers work for health magazines, hospitals, and medical device manufacturers, and can sometimes even work for the government media department. As a health writer, RNs would typically be responsible for keeping up with current health news and writing informative articles about new developments in the medical community. They may also be responsible for creating the health pamphlets that are often found in doctor’s office waiting rooms.

This is the ideal career for those who want to work from home on a full or part-time basis and have flexible hours. As long as they are getting the work done on time, they are good to go. Choosing to work as a health writer can also give RNs a leg up if they decide to work as a researcher, as they will already have published articles credited to them. Nurses can also use their relevant experience to create accurate and helpful information for the public.

Although there are not any additional education requirements for this profession, there are some factors to consider. RNs will need to be strong writers and fluent in the language they will be writing before applying for positions.

2. Executive director

For nurses who don’t want to leave hospital life completely behind, but also would like to continue working as a bedside nurse, applying for a director or executive director position could be the best compromise.

Although doctors and nurses are viewed as the face of the hospital, there is a lot more going on behind the scenes that most of the public is unaware of. Like any institution, a hospital must have staff managing the administrative part of the operation including finances and program management. This is the role of an executive director.

The executive director of a hospital oversees the creation of budgets and ensures they are followed, overseeing patient care, facilitating communication between branches, and managing staff. 

This career jump is typically reserved for the most experienced nurses, allowing them to use the knowledge they have accumulated over the years to ensure everything runs smoothly.

3. Nurse educator

Many nurses are prepared to step back from the physically taxing responsibilities of traditional nursing after years of working in the field or at the bedside. A career change to the position of nurse educator is one method to accomplish this while continuing to be active in the nursing and medical communities.

Working as a nurse educator has many advantages, including professional advancement, more regular working hours, and a stress-free atmosphere.

Nurse educators significantly influence how the next generation of nurses is formed, assisting them in problem-solving and adjusting to the constantly evolving nursing profession.

4. Legal nurse consultant

A legal nurse consultant is one of the more intriguing and rewarding alternative occupations for nurses. In this occupation, nurses will be expected to keep up with healthcare legislation changes continuously and make sure their employer complies with them.

When a lawsuit is brought against their employer, legal nurse consultants will defend them and are frequently the ones to testify in court. They often work for a hospital or insurance provider. The legal nurse consultant collaborates closely with the legal team to ensure that the case is medically correct in malpractice claims or any other legal matter that can impact the employer. 

A legal nurse consultant can also work one-on-one with patients outside of the courtroom. They work to ensure that they completely comprehend the treatment they are receiving and assist them in filing claims with their insurance provider.

5. Nutritionist

Changing careers to become a nutritionist could be a terrific option for nursing school graduates who truly love their nutrition courses. They will be better able to interact with patients and comprehend how the diet might impact their overall health if a nutritionist has nursing experience.

The diversity of possibilities it offers in terms of work environment is one of the nicest things about becoming a nutritionist. They can work in settings like eating disorder treatment centres or with private customers who just want to get healthier overall. 

No matter where they work, they will work with clients to create a nutritional strategy that enables them to achieve the objectives the nutritionist has set. Nutritionists collaborate closely with culinary staff in a nursing home or rehab facility to assist them in creating grocery lists and weekly menu plans too.

Especially when dealing with individual customers, a profession in nutrition may provide the advantage of a more flexible schedule. People who have small children or who just wish to work less should take advantage of this fantastic opportunity.

6. Research nurse

The ideal non-traditional employment for nurses who enjoyed the research papers and time spent pouring over studies during education may be working as a research nurse.

A research nurse’s job is to participate in clinical trials and test out novel therapeutic approaches to ascertain what the nursing profession’s next moves should be to advance medical care. Research nurses may even go into education, teaching the upcoming group of research nurses as they advance in experience. 

Although individuals may be able to make their way into the research field with a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN), it is generally recommended that they acquire a Ph.D. or Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP). 

The main difference between DNP and PhD in nursing is the concentration of the studies that students complete. Studying a DNP will have students looking at a more clinically focused course of studies whereas a PhD program will specifically prepare nurses for a career working in research. For busy nurse who wants to keep working while completing their Ph.D. program, Wilkes University offers online programs that allow students to complete their Ph.D. in nursing on a flexible schedule while still collaborating with talented researchers in various fields.

7. Director of Nursing

After building up a resume and gaining experience working in the clinical setting, a non-traditional career option is to transition to working as a director of nursing.

In essence, a director of nursing is the manager of the nursing program in a hospital or other medical setting. They are responsible for ensuring that the entire team of nurses is well-organized and has everything needed to do their job effectively. 

They will work with both the day shift and night shift nurses to coordinate care plans and assign tasks. Outside of the day-to-day management, they will also manage hiring and firing nurses, keeping to the hospital’s budget, and ensuring operations are falling within legal regulations for patient care.

One great thing about being a director of nursing is that there are no additional educational requirements, making it a good choice if going back to school is not an option.

8. Nurse lobbyist

A job as a nurse lobbyist might be extremely rewarding for individuals who find politics to be fascinating but still want to utilize their nursing degree to improve the lives of others.

A nurse lobbyist is a professional who is knowledgeable about the medical and legal systems and works to ensure that they are compatible. They can be employed by the municipal, state, or quite frequently, federal governments. 

At the state and federal levels, this is a competitive post that can be challenging to get. It is also among the toughest occupations on this list. Nurses will need to stay current on all the latest developments in the medical and legal areas as nurse lobbyist, which means they will need to pursue continuing education regularly. 

9. Nursing home director

A career as a nursing home director might be the ideal alternative for nurses interested in working as a director of nursing but who do not want to cope with the stress of working in an active hospital.

As nursing home directors, nurses will get the chance to work together with the facility’s bedside nurses to deliver the highest calibre of care. They will oversee examining practices to make sure they adhere to standards and create patient care plans.

Outside of the more medical tasks they will be dealing with, they also need to monitor the finances of the home and work out the budgets for different areas. They will be the face of the nursing home and are responsible for meeting with potential clients and showing them around.

Acquiring a nursing administration certificate can be a great way for nurses to increase their qualifications and make it easier for them to get a position in the nursing home industry.

10. Medical sales

Some individuals go through nursing school only to figure out it is not for them, while others simply want a complete career change after years of bedside nursing. Regardless of the reason, going into medical sales is a great way to use the knowledge accumulated through education while gaining various new skills from working in a brand-new field.

A medical sales professional will work with doctors and administrators at hospitals and other medical centers, showing them new medical devices and educating them on how they can improve their practice. They will also negotiate deals and make sales to medical offices.

While the sales industry does not require a specific level of education, it is largely experience-based. This is where experience as a nurse comes into play, allowing individuals to have a more thorough understanding of the devices they are selling, thus allowing them to market more effectively.


Transitioning to a career may feel overwhelming but the good news is that for nurses there are numerous industries seeking individuals with the valuable skills gained through clinical experience.

For a nurse to set themselves apart from candidates and successfully transition into a career they need to continue their education. They should consider investing in qualifications such as a DNP, PhD, or other industry certifications. These endeavors will enhance their resume, making them stand out even if they lack experience in the desired field.

In today’s world, many universities offer programs that allow students to pursue their studies while working. This flexibility makes it easier than before to achieve career aspirations.

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