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    You’re on your way to becoming a nurse.  Are you aware that nursing careers are becoming more versatile than ever before? While you might be interested in pursuing a traditional route, you may want to consider your options and “think outside the box” about other avenues within the profession.

    According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, currently 87% of registered nurses work in traditional environments such as hospitals, care facilities, doctor offices, home health, and government settings. However, for those seeking nontraditional nursing careers, other opportunities could be available in environments such as legal, travel, technology, wellness, and business. 

    No matter what your interests, a nursing degree could help you explore the beaten path to places you may not have thought of before. 

    The nursing profession is consistently and rapidly evolving. In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects employment growth of 19% for registered nurses from 2012 to 2022, and this is categorized as “faster than average” growth over other professions. They attribute this to an aging population, Affordable Healthcare Act regulations.

    According to Jo Ann Webb, senior director of federal relations and policy at the American Organization of Nurse Executives, a nonprofit representing 8,600 members and promoting nursing issues, "There aren't enough nurses, but there is a huge demand for health care.” She also notes that the Affordable Care Act is expanding health insurance coverage and overhauling other regulations, which is expected to impact the need for more nurses.

    Following are some different avenues for nurses that one might not normally at first associate with the field:

    • Correctional facilities 
    • Legal work (e.g., case reviews for court cases) 
    • Organ bank coordinator 
    • Computer training / health care IT consultant (for hospital documentation systems) 
    • Blood bank 
    • Juvenile delinquent home 
    • Transfer and access coordinator for patient facility transfers 
    • Military care 
    • Management/Operations in a health care company 

    As you determine a nursing career that is the right fit for you, consider your passions, skills, and your schedule flexibility.  For instance, if you enjoy travel and your schedule allows for you to be gone for weeks at a time, you may want to consider a career as a cruise ship nurse. These nurse positions require advanced medical experience, training, certifications, and a desire to see the world.

    Another avenue for the adventurous is a career as a travel nurse. Many nurses pursue these opportunities through agencies that specialize in providing temporary work contracts to fill staffing gaps at hospitals and other medical facilities. Some travel nurses work as independent contractors.

    If you excel at helping others while working under extreme pressure and high time sensitivity, you might consider becoming a flight nurse. While transporting patients in a helicopter, flight nurses must combine the skills of both a paramedic and a nurse.

    Those interested in staying closer to home could pursue opportunities in wellness environments, including spas and fitness centers. As obesity continues to rise in the U.S., nurses can play a role in helping Americans get fit and live longer.

    If you have a mind for business and enjoy a more traditional “9 to 5” environment, you could consider a role in the corporate business world.  Pharmaceutical and biotech companies depend on strong research departments to stay competitive. One could also pursue management opportunities within skilled nursing care centers, home health care, and food manufacturing corporations.

    Or, if you have a passion for social justice and want to provide care for underserved, low-income patients, you might consider working in a community health care clinic.

    Lastly, do you have an entrepreneurial spirit and don’t mind taking on some risk? You could leverage your nursing skills as an independent nursing services provider. Organizations such as the National Nurses in Business Association can offer you additional resources.

    While nontraditional nursing careers can provide more schedule flexibility, what often drives many nurses to these alternative environments is a desire to serve a particular patient population. These unique nursing jobs satisfy the skills and interests of the people who fill them. A nursing degree could help you take those first steps off the beaten path to a fulfilling nontraditional nursing career!*

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    And if you are considering pursuing a nursing degree, we invite you to find out more about Kaplan University’s School of Nursing and explore our undergraduate and graduate degree offerings.



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