When one thinks of nursing as a career, thoughts of nurses in scrubs rushing through a busy hospital to tend to their patients come to mind. Or perhaps you imagine being a nurse assisting a physician with surgery in an operating room. While such traditional nursing roles are some of the most essential jobs in the world today, the possibilities for career options for nurses are not limited to those in a typical hospital setting.
Depending on what specialty you work in and what level of education you possess, you might have multiple career options available to you that would take you outside of that hospital environment. In fact, some highly critical roles must be filled by nurses with the right amount of experience to keep the medical community running and operating smoothly. Nurses can contribute to advances in medical science as well as in the management of significant health and hospital systems.
If you are a nurse who is contemplating taking your career outside of the hospital setting to perform a non-traditional nursing role, here are six jobs that are worth considering.
1. Nurse Educator
If you recall nursing school, you most likely remember being taught by some excellent instructors who helped to guide and shape your career. Many of those instructors very likely started out as registered nurses (RNs) who decided to give back to the nursing community by transitioning to become a nurse educator.
Not everyone is indeed cut out to be a teacher. You must be confident enough in your knowledge base to be able to construct a curriculum and deliver lectures. You also need to have the ability to bring your knowledge back to a level that can be understood by students who are just starting out on the path to becoming great nurses. Amongst the many qualities of an educator include the ability to answer questions clearly and concisely and to patiently guide students to a better understanding of some of the most challenging subject matter. You also need to put your empathy to use with student nurses who may be struggling and think on your feet how to help them better understand the curriculum.
Not every RN can simply jump from a traditional hospital job to the head of a classroom. Most nurses who wish to become nurse educators must go back to school themselves for a time. While this can be a difficult thing to manage while continuing to work full-time, there are several excellent online DNP in nursing education programs out there designed with the working nurse in mind.
Through an online DNP in nursing education program, you will not only become a Doctor of Nursing, a valuable level of education for a nurse, but you will also be equipped with the necessary skills required to be an effective nurse educator. Furthermore, by choosing an online DNP in nursing education, you allow yourself the opportunity to continue to work and gain valuable professional experience that will only serve to enhance your capabilities as an educator.
2. Public Health Program Director
Nurses who are in tune with the fact that there is currently a void when it comes to the public’s level of physical health acumen might wish to take on a role that places them at the forefront of public health. Being a public health program director means that you will be given a chance to help shape the public’s knowledge of health-related matters. Furthermore, you will also be able to affect changes to how public health is handled on a national scale.
When you take on the role of public health director, you will oversee managing several other staff that includes healthcare professionals like yourself. You will be responsible for designing and implementing your programs and making sure that all things related to it stay in compliance with government standards and procedures. While such jobs encompass quite a bit, the education and qualifications that you need to earn to fill such a role will more than prepare you for the task.
This is another job that requires a nurse to earn a DNP. One of the better types of programs that will help you gain the skills that you need to act as an effective public health program director is an online DNP in nursing education. Public health directors must function as leaders in their department and community. This often takes the same skills that educators need as well, which is why the online DNP in nursing education is such a good fit.
3. Nurse Informaticists
Nurse informaticists play an often overlooked but incredibly important role in the world of healthcare. This is a unique area of nursing that requires those working in it to be accomplished not only in nursing as a profession but also in working with computer-based systems and information sciences. One way of looking at the job of an informaticist is to see them as nurses who specialize in information technology.
Using data collected on various aspects of patients’ medical history and treatment, informaticists can create better models for care that can lead to better and safer patient outcomes. Some of the most notable advancements that have been made to the field of medicine that was developed by nurse informaticists include the creation of electronic medical records and the computerized provider order entry system. Both of these systems can be said to have helped to revolutionize medicine and bring it into the modern age of technology.
If the thought of being at the forefront of medical technological advancements and the creation of systems that facilitate efficiency and safety in the practice of medicine, then this is a career path worth considering. Suffice it to say, though, that such a role requires a fair amount of education not only in the field of nursing but also in information and computer technology as well.
While not entirely necessary, having an advanced degree can go a long way to helping prepare you to take on a job as a nurse informaticists. Some degrees that can provide you with the right education include an MSN degree or an online DNP in nursing education. Such degrees will take time, and you might also consider earning a degree in database management or leadership. Still, there is an ever-growing need for skilled and qualified nurses to fills these types of roles in the medical community.
4. Health Policy Specialist
The complex world of health policy is a difficult one to manage. It is essential, however, that those who are involved both in the development and the implementation of health policy come from a strong medical background. With so much firsthand experience and knowledge about the needs and challenges facing healthcare providers as well as their patients, nurses make a natural and beneficial fit for such roles.
The healthcare system, both on a national and global scale, is not without its fair share of issues. Unfortunately, these issues can often get in the way of patients receiving the best standards of care possible. In an ideal world, everyone would have access to the best healthcare, but this is not reality. Those who work to shape and progress health policy are the ones who are using all their effort to get the healthcare system on the whole closer to a place where that might become a reality.
To become one of those specialists working towards better health policy across the board, a nurse must have enough clinical experience under their belt to better understand the specific needs within the system as it is today. Furthermore, the intricacies of health policy require that those who specialize in it possess the right level of education. A master’s degree in nursing is an advisable option, but an online DNP in nursing education would be even better.
The more influence you wish to have on health policy, the higher you will need to take your experience and education levels. You will also need to become a strong and active leader within the healthcare community, able to observe and understand the things that need to change and to communicate your findings and opinions effectively.
5. Executive Of A Healthcare Organization
There are a vast number of healthcare organizations out there that are not a part of a hospital or health system that requires experienced and qualified leaders. Nurses make excellent candidates for such roles in that they can use their firsthand experiences about how healthcare works to make informed and positive changes and to properly manage larger organizations.
From the understanding of proper protocols and procedures to knowing the needs of patients, nurses often make for excellent executives. Reaching the executive level of an organization isn’t an easy task, though. A nurse who aspires to do so must first gain a fair few years of clinical experience and must make the investment in his or her education. They must also be able to demonstrate a desire for leadership by having already taken on management positions in their career.
In regards to education, degrees in leadership or that have leadership components to them are valuable options. Others that equip you with strong communication skills can also carry multiple benefits. If you wish to work for an organization that specializes in a specific area of medicine, your experience and education should reflect that as well.
An MSN would be an excellent degree to meet these purposes. Some organizations prefer that their executives have a doctorate in nursing as well. While the thought of earning such degrees while continuing to work and gain clinical experience sound daunting, it is possible to earn your advanced degree online. A few viable degree options for such positions include an online DNP of family nurse practitioner or an online DNP in nursing education. Whatever education you decide to pursue should be tailored to the type of health organization that you wish to work in.
6. University Professor
While nurses who decide to go into education generally tend to pursue a career in the education of other nurses, there are plenty of other areas of education that would do well to bring faculty members on board who have a background in nursing. Students at the undergraduate and graduate levels who are pursuing all sorts of degrees related to the medical sciences require instructors and professors who possess valuable professional experiences as well as their own high level of education.
In addition to educating the healthcare professionals of tomorrow, nurses who choose to teach in a university setting will be able to contribute to research being done at a university campus. The research that graduate and undergraduate students alike must perform in pursuit of their degrees must be overseen and guided by qualified healthcare professionals. Nurses with a penchant for clinical research make for excellent instructors in these areas.
Nurses who wish to teach in a university setting should look to equip themselves with the right education geared towards preparing them for such a role. Here, again, is an instance where advanced degrees come in handy. Furthermore, some universities have standards that their educators must meet in terms of the degrees they hold. For instance, some institutions will hire staff members who hold a master’s degree while others will insist that their faculty all have a doctorate degree of some kind.
While the degree you choose to earn to qualify for a position at a top university might need to pertain to the area of medicine that you wish to teach about, a more general education degree would also be a good choice. An online DNP in nursing education program is a viable choice when it comes to the types of skills it will equip you with.
An online DNP in nursing education program will also provide you with the flexibility to earn your degree while continuing to work. Whatever program you decide upon should include an aspect of leadership building and the development of communication skills as well.
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