A nursing degree doesn’t have to lead to a job in a hospital.
“Let your career go hand-in-hand with your hobbies and interests,” says author and geriatric care manager Marion Somers. “If you love to travel, you could consider becoming a nurse for a cruise ship. There are so many nontraditional paths you can take with that nursing degree. A nurse will always find a job, but you may have to walk in and ask for the position to be created.”
For the less whimsical, here are four positions that already exist for nurses with unique skills and education.
Clinical project manager
Project manager for clinical testing
“When a [drug] trial is going on, there’s a lot of moving parts,” says Steven Raz, co-founder and managing partner of Cornerstone Search Group in New Jersey. “There needs to be the documentation, protocol must be followed and you need to stay within budget. All that information gets rolled into a project. Nurses have likely been through clinical trials. They already have the knowledge of what’s happening at testing sites.”
Key corespondent and organizer for transplant patients
“[A] transplant coordinator is an advanced practice health care professional. It requires critical thinking, communication and organizational skills,” says Pat McDonough, RN, live donor transplant coordinator at New York’s Montefiore Medical Center. “After working in the ICU for 18 years, becoming a transplant coordinator opened a whole new world to me.”
Drug safety operations
Fielding calls and concerns about drug reactions
“When a patient calls in a bad reaction to a drug, the nurses offer a very good perspective because they can relate to the patients and understand what they’re going through better than a non-nurse,” says Raz.
Long-term care planner
Planning and organizing assisted care for the elderly
“As our population ages and health care becomes more digital, there are avenues opening up for nurses who can navigate technology,” explains Patrick Coonan, dean and professor at Adelphi University School of Nursing in New York. “Health care is moving to keeping people out of the hospital — so care coordination, wellness and nutrition teaching and life counseling are areas where nurses will increasingly find new roles.”