10 Alternative Nursing Careers


Having a nursing degree doesn’t mean spending your entire career in a hospital or as a bedside nurse. Nursing can overlap with a variety of industries to provide alternative nursing career pathways. Just because you haven’t found your dream nursing job yet, doesn’t mean it isn’t out there.  

Before you start regretting your nursing degree, consider alternative careers in nursing. You may be surprised how many industries overlap with your current experience and degree

Alternative Nursing Jobs

Nursing programs provide students with an in-depth understanding of medical policies, procedures, and practices. Programs across the country like Berry College’s nursing program have students study cross-cultural healthcare, local healthcare, and vulnerable populations. This trains future nurses to see beyond medicine and focus on providing the best care for their patients. 

Culture, community, and advocacy can be worked effortlessly into nursing studies. Who says they can’t be part of your nursing career options?

We’ve compiled a list of jobs for nurses who don’t want to be nurses in the traditional sense. Some of these job options allow nurses to provide patient care without direct contact with the patient. Others allow you to provide patient care outside of a traditional hospital setting. 

Non-Patient Facing Nursing Jobs

Nurse Auditor

A nurse auditor evaluates the quality of medical care according to specific parameters. They analyze and check patient records for medical coding accuracy and completion. They check the procedures performed to ensure patients receive the correct care and procedures for their ailments or injuries. 

Nurse auditors are responsible for ensuring patient records and codes comply with hospital, state, and insurance regulations. They oversee and ensure the medical billing process is completed in a timely, yet correct manner. 

Environmental Health Nurse

In some cases, environmental health professionals are called Occupational and Environmental Health nurses. Their primary focus is protecting workers and members of the community from occupational and environmental health hazards. They strive to create sustainable healthcare services and work environments that encourage healthy living and fair treatment.

They work with employees, employers, health and safety professionals, and community groups. They identify current needs, stage interventions, and programs, and evaluate the program’s impact on the community and workplace. 

Health Policy Nurse 

Health policy nurses engage in analyzing, creating, and enforcing health care policies. They work to protect and improve the health and wellness of society. These nurses advise policymakers and advocacy organizations. 

They highlight and provide resources to show current public health and nursing issues. They review proposed healthcare laws on local, state, or federal levels and then provide feedback. The policies are comprehensive enough to potentially impact healthcare systems and national health.

Medical nurse consultants work as collaborative entities with legal counsel to design medical protocols. They explain healthcare obligations relating to case-specific scenarios for cases of medical malpractice or insurance fraud. These nurses review medical records and documentation to understand the patient’s ailments or injuries and the medical care provided. 

They review the timeline in which care was administered and gather additional necessary information.  This may include interviewing patients or attending upcoming patient exams to witness the consequences of the patient’s initial care. They can use this information to determine if the care provided was appropriate based on the individual’s situation. 

Non-Hospital Nursing Jobs

School Nurse

School nurses may be deployed to preschools, elementary schools, middle schools, and high schools. While their specific duties may vary based on student age range, school nurses provide care for unwell students. This includes administering medications and advising parents if children need additional care from their primary care physician. 

School nurses work to maintain a healthy environment for students, faculty, and staff. These nurses may also provide medical assistance to students during summer camps or programs. 

Cruise Ship Nurse

Cruise ship nurses provide emergency medical care and first aid for passengers and crew members during a cruise. They perform clinical tasks such as blood draws, lab tests, and X-rays. They administer medication, oversee care plans for patients, and provide treatment for minor and major medical emergencies. 

Flight Nurse

Flight nurses can choose between civilian or military careers.

Air Force flight nurses are responsible for preparing medical evacuation flights. They are trained to administer medical care while in transit and may act independently if a physician isn’t present. They plan and oversee the onboarding and deboarding processes for patients. 

Civilian flight nurses, or transport nurses, can work on rotor (helicopter) or fixed wing (plane) aircraft. They provide emergency medical care to critically injured or ill patients during transit to a trauma center. They ensure patients are properly secured in their gurneys and the aircraft to prevent jostling during the flight. 

Certified Nurse Midwife

Certified nurse midwives can provide care in public health clinics, private practices, or a patient’s home. They provide prenatal care and help during pregnancy as well as delivery. They are trained to provide gynecological and general care and can provide continued care as patients age.

Certified nurse midwives promote health, disease prevention, and provide health and wellness counseling. They can work with families or individuals regardless of gender identity and deliver care via telehealth or in-person. 

Other Jobs for Nurses

Don’t worry if none of the previous jobs caught your eye. We have more unconventional nursing jobs we think you might like. 

Nurse Educator

Someone has to educate and mold the next generation of nurses. Becoming a nurse educator is a great way to contribute to nursing beyond the technical and procedural aspects. Though medical care has improved drastically, there is still room for improvement.

Nurse educators can use their knowledge and experience to train compassionate, capable nurses. They can improve the future of healthcare by sharing personal experiences, professionalism, and advice alongside lectures.

Nurse Writer

Nurse writers can educate readers on trending or interesting healthcare topics. Being a nurse writer allows nurses to combine knowledge and experience with facts and data. They could showcase their writing on a personal blog, work for health websites, or submit work to medical journals. 

Nurse writers could also contribute to the creation of educational materials for future healthcare professionals. 

In Summary

Being a nurse goes beyond working in hospitals or providing bedside patient care. You can work in a variety of settings and apply your knowledge to improve community and public health. You could also help mold future generations of nurses through your shared knowledge and experiences. 

Nursing career options come in a variety of shapes and overlapping interests. Nursing jobs away from bedside patient care are possible. Discover jobs in nursing outside of hospital settings, too. 

Before you decide to make a complete career change, see how your interests can be incorporated into your nursing experience. There are many different sorts of nursing careers.

The real question is which one aligns with your interests?

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