8 Alternative Careers for Nurses

Alternative careers for nurses include a position as a flight nurse, a forensic nurse, a public health nurse, a medical-surgical nurse and more. Alternative careers for registered nurses can include jobs both at and away from the bedside and generally require a BSN from an accredited institution, like Madonna University.

person pulling a rolling luggage bag

As demand in the field of nursing continues to rise, more and more opportunities are opening for registered nurses. What opportunities you choose to explore in your career is dependent on the educational pathway you pursue. A Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree is becoming the preferred standard academic qualification in healthcare facilities. This advanced degree has several benefits, including job security and a variety of alternative careers for nurses, both in hospitals and beyond the bedside.

There are a few pathways toward earning your BSN. One path that is designed for career-changers who already have a non-nursing degree or a minimum of 60 credits is Madonna University’s accelerated BSN (ABSN) program in metro Detroit.

As stated previously, having a BSN degree offers many benefits. This includes career opportunities that may seem out-of-the-box both inside a hospital setting and beyond the bedside. If you’re interested in a specialized nursing position, check out these alternative careers for registered nurses.

Accelerated BSN student at Madonna University

BSN Career Options Inside a Hospital Setting

If you want to become a registered nurse and work in a hospital, there are still plenty of non-traditional roles you can fill if you’re looking for something a little different. Let’s look a few alternative bedside nursing roles:

1. Medical-Surgical Nurse

According to the Academy of Medical-Surgical Nurses, this role is the single largest nursing specialty in the United States. As a medical-surgical nurse, you’ll work with patients admitted with nonsurgical (medical) and surgical conditions. You’ll provide pre- and post-operative teaching, assist physicians on the surgical floor of a hospital and care for patients in the recovery room. Hospitals are rigorous and fast-paced, so it’s crucial that you know how to juggle multiple priorities at once.

2. Neonatal Intensive Care Nurse

As a neonatal nurse, you’ll work with premature and sick infants born with an array of conditions. These could be anything from congenital disabilities, infection, prematurity surgical problems, and other body malformations. In addition to performing life-sustaining care, you’ll offer advice and support to parents, perform tests, document patient history, administer medication, and more.

3. Quality Improvement Coordinator

As a quality improvement coordinator, you’ll collaborate with hospital/clinic medical directors to develop, maintain, and implement plans to achieve goals. You’ll need to educate, train, and motivate nursing staff to not only conform to legal and hospital standards but also to provide exceptional care, too.

4. Pediatric Nurse

If you love kids, a career as a pediatric nurse could bring you a lot of joy. As a pediatric nurse, you’d treat children of all ages in the hospital. Pediatric nurses tend to injuries, chronic conditions and other ailments that children may be facing. They provide support and education to families when needed.

nursing student checking child patient's pulse

BSN Career Options Beyond the Bedside

If you’d rather be a nurse that does not work directly at the bedside, a career as a flight nurse, travel nurse, or forensic nurse may be right for you. Let’s explore these non-bedside positions:

5. Flight Nurse

As a flight nurse, you’ll administer comprehensive critical care on helicopters and airplanes for patients of all kinds. Your main goal will be to ensure safety and comfort throughout the entire course of the flight, until landing. You’ll care for patients in emergency situations, so it’s essential that you know how to make decisions quickly.

6. Travel Nurse

If you are a registered nurse with one or more years of experience working in a hospital, you can consider applying to become a travel nurse. Travel nurses work with travel nursing agencies to find a location and position that they are interested in. This can mean helping to fill nursing shortages in hospitals, lending your specific specialization to a hospital in need, or just finding a great fit. Travel nurses generally get a housing stipend and payment incentive. If you like to travel and gain experience in a variety of different settings, travel nursing may be a great option.

7. Public Health Nurse

As a public health nurse, you’ll provide critical healthcare services to low-income and rural communities. Drawing on your education as a registered nurse, you’ll relay reliable, useful information on how to lead a healthy lifestyle. Also, you’ll perform health screenings and administer medications within county health departments, city health departments, federal health organizations and mobile health care service units.

8. Forensic Nurse

Forensic nursing is a cross between a healthcare profession and a judicial system profession. As a forensic nurse, you’ll spend your days investigating sexual and physical assault crimes as well as accidental deaths. You’ll get cases of domestic, elder and child abuse, so it’s vital that you show empathy toward the patients and families you encounter. You can expect to work in laboratories and law courts.

How Madonna’s ABSN Program Can Get You Started

Pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree provides you with an important investment for your future and opens the door to a variety of career paths, both at the bedside and beyond. Madonna University understands that and offers a high-quality BSN degree for career changers with at least 60 college credits from a regionally accredited college or university.

Four nursing students standing in front of wall

Madonna’s ABSN program combines online coursework, hands-on labs inside a state-of-the-art learning center, and diverse clinical experience inside top area hospitals. Students can leverage their previous education and earn their BSN in as few as 16 months.

Does Madonna University’s ABSN program sound like a fit for you? Start on your future today! Contact a Madonna ABSN admissions team member today to find out more.