In March, the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) caused the suspension of all in-person classes and clinical rotations for nursing stude
When you think of a nurse, you probably envision a nurse wearing scrubs, holding a patient’s hand while they lie in a hospital bed while alarms sound off in the background. While many nurses choose to go into these honorable roles, nursing today goes way beyond the bedside. Both RN programs and NP programs prepare future nurses for a variety of non-hospital roles just as crucial to public health as traditional hospital positions. By employing nurses in a variety of settings and institutions, we are increasing patient’s access to care, health screenings, and education.
One of the most well-known nursing roles outside of the hospital is nursing faculty. Whether it is through an online institution or a large university, nursing faculty are responsible for teaching the future nurses of tomorrow, as well as advancing the education of nurses in all specialties. Nurses may work as adjunct, or part-time, faculty or full-time tenure track faculty. Nurses with a passion for education and advancing the profession may love a career as nursing faculty.
2. Nursing Professional Development Practitioner
While nursing professional development (NPD) practitioners and specialists may, and often do, work in the hospital setting, they can also work in various non-hospital organizations or in independent companies. Professional development practitioners plan, implement, and evaluate continuing nursing education activities. In addition to being educators, they are also specialists in orientation, mentoring, and maintaining a spirit of inquiry into nursing science.
3. Health Policy
When you think about the legislative arena, you probably do not immediately picture nurses. You might think legislation is all business suits and briefcases. Nurses play a crucial role in lobbying for (or against) healthcare-related legislation, such as safe staffing and mandatory overtime bills. These nurses can work for professional organizations and may serve right alongside lobbyists and legislators. Nurses in health policy have an opportunity to influence healthcare on a grander scale and support improvements in healthcare for both nurses and patients.
Read what one nurse, Tiffany Bukoffsky, the Director of Health Policy for the Ohio Nurses Association, has to say about her career:
“I never went into nursing thinking I’d work beyond the bedside, however, as utopic as it sounds, we can’t determine our own destiny. I was drawn to politics and policymaking while taking a healthcare policy course in nursing school. I’ve always had the internal desire to want to be a part of a global solution and I see working in the political arena as a way to fill that desire. I excel in an environment where I feel like I can make a difference in the lives of the people we serve—and I’m lucky enough to have found a professional that allows me to use my expertise to do just that. I am blessed to advocate and lobby for our patients, bedside nurses and our profession as a whole. – Tiffany Bukoffsky, MHA, BSN, RN
4. Public Health
A career in public health can be a fulfilling way to serve the community. Public health nurses work with patients of all ages and backgrounds. They have a unique role, often providing care and health education to those with limited access to care. Public health nurses can provide a range of services, including prenatal care, sexual health education, and prevention, or vaccinations. Workplaces for public health nurses include community health centers, correctional facilities, and local health departments.
Technology, data, statistics, and research all come together with nursing science in the specialty of informatics. Nurses can manage data, work to improve electronic health records, and assist implementing evidence-based practice through research. Informatics is a growing field in which nurses who have an interest in technology and data can utilize their skills and strengths.
6. Medical Device
We rely on medical devices, such as cardiac monitoring devices, pacemakers, left-ventricular assist devices (LVAD), and insulin pumps to serve patients in the most technologically advanced ways. To manage these devices, nurses work behind the scenes to process the data, connect patients with resources, and provide education.
7. Utilization Review
Working in utilization review may be an enticing role to nurses who are detail-oriented and documentation specialists. Utilization review nurses are responsible for assessing the cost-effectiveness of healthcare services and the quality of that care. This specialized role allows nurses to utilize their critical thinking skills and clinical expertise, while not necessarily working in a hospital.
8. School Nursing
School nurses play an important role, not just fixing boo-boos, but serving as a resource for children. School nurses are responsible for keeping children well at school and for connecting families with additional resources or services that might be needed. School nurses fight for related health services to be provided in schools and providing the link between healthcare and education.
Nurses, often nurse practitioners, or APRNs, can become aesthetic specialists and work in offices providing services such as Botox and laser hair removal. While the clients these nurses care for may not be ill, they are seeking body modifications that, if not done properly, can be harmful. Specially trained nurses can provide this diligent care along with the needed education that goes along with these services. Aesthetician nurses are addressing a different, yet important, patient need by helping them increase their self-esteem and confidence.
10. Occupational Health
Occupational health nurses can be found in companies of all arenas. Many major companies employ occupational health nurses to keep their employees safe and well. According to the American Association of Occupational Health Nurses, this specialty focuses on injury and illness prevention as well as protection from possible hazards. Often times occupational health nurses work in administrative roles, playing an integral part in emergency preparedness, disaster planning and hazard prevention.