Have you ever wanted to get out of bedside nursing and do something else?
The problem is where can you find a job that pays as well as what you are making now? And more than that, what else can you do with your nursing expertise?
I found myself going down the traditional path of clinical medicine. Yet I became increasingly disengaged from the hospital. The more I worked, the less I wanted to be there. I just wasn?t happy in the clinical setting.
But what could I do?
What kind of nonclinical jobs are out there for nurses that pay as well as the hospital does? Where would any new path lead?
How I Chose My Nonclinical Job In Nursing
To get started on a new path to nonclinical nursing, I asked myself 3 tough questions:
- What is most important to me ? Job satisfaction, income, flexibility?
Everyone wants all of those things right? You need to decide which one is the most important to pursue above all. If you want flexibility and work from home, you might have to sacrifice a higher income. If you want job satisfaction, it might come at the cost of flexibility.
It?s necessary to dig into what is driving you forward and then rate the elements that are essential to you in order of importance.
I wanted job satisfaction above all else. Don?t get me wrong, I love money and flexibility and want those too. However, whenever I prioritized money over job satisfaction, I found myself going down the wrong career path.
2. What kind of income am I looking for?
There tends to be a cap on certain nursing income levels, so this is a great question to start with as you journey into nonclinical jobs.
Jobs such as study nurse, quality control, nurse reviewers, educators and school nurses generally pay under $100k. There isn?t much room for making more than that, but you may be able to make a career leap from this position into a higher paying job such as the Quality Control Director.
Many corporate jobs will pay between $100?150k plus they have great bonuses. I can?t tell you how exciting it was to get my first corporate bonus. When I worked in the hospital a bonus to me was getting a coffee mug for the holidays, but in corporate it was 30% of my salary!
If you want to earn more than $150k, then you may have to start giving up some flexibility because the competition for nonclinical jobs becomes increasingly difficult and you need to be more strategic.
For instance, any executive nurse position, such as Chief Nursing Officer (CNO) or Chief Nursing Executive (CNE) should expect to earn $175k or more. However, most nurse executives work very long days and are responsible for the functioning of their service line 24/7.
The other way to earn a lot of income is to start a business. The potential to earn any amount only exists in starting a business or investing your money. A business basically is you investing your money in yourself. However, starting a business is not easy, fast or for everyone. You?ll want to investigate if this is the path you want to go before leaping into that.
You can find out if the entrepreneur life is for you with my free video course, ?Business Starter Kit?.
Although the money didn?t come in for me initially, the job satisfaction of owning my own business and learning as much as I was made me happy. After a year of doing what I loved, the money started to follow.
3. What do I love to do and what do I want for myself?
This is a surprisingly difficult question to answer and many people never bother to address it.
Dreams only come true if you have one.
If you are floundering in your career and you have no defined path for yourself then you can?t expect things to change. Over my career, I?ve been a jack of all trades. When it came time to apply to the Nursing Academy, they asked me what was my focus? What have I done that has contributed to nursing?
The answer? Well, I don?t know, I?ve done this and that, but nothing was meaningful, impactful or lasting.
Ultimately isn?t that what we want for ourselves? We want people to acknowledge our contribution, to value what we?ve done, to respect our work. However, if we don?t package ourselves up and make it a point to stand for something, then we stand for nothing. Our value comes from the way we organize and present ourselves.
By choosing a career path, you are making that announcement to yourself and to the world. This is what I want to be known for. And when you dream it, it happens. It really is that simple.
Let?s get started in discovering what your potential nonclinical job will be.
5 Administrative Career Paths For Nurses
Administrative jobs tend to have certain bandwidths such as: $60?90k; $90?110k; $120?150k; > $150k. These salaries are best estimates and may be higher or lower depending on a multitude of variables.
You may need to start out at a lower pay than you want in order to get the skill sets you need for the job you really want.
Don?t be afraid to do this.
Keep your focus on your end goal and stay the course.
Also keep in mind the lifestyle you want for yourself. Jobs like nurse manager, directors, and nurse executive pay well, but there is no time of the day or night that is off-limits. These nurses are on-call 24/7. They get called during their vacation, in the middle of the night, etc.
They are problem solvers. They solve everyone?s problems, so as such, everyone calls them to solve their problems. If you like being needed by everyone and being paid well, then these are good jobs. If you are hands off, don?t like telling people what to do or having crucial conversations with direct reports, stay away!
Other administrative jobs such as quality review and risk management are very detailed oriented. You will spend a lot of time at the office (maybe even home) going through detailed reports and making summaries. If you don?t like working in the details, then these are not the jobs for you.
- Nurse Executives
- Program Nurses
- Nursing Outreach and Education
- Staff Development
5 Corporate Career Paths For Nurses
Corporate jobs can be amazing. They often pay very well, you get bonuses, but you also have to make ends meet. You will see your job slashed at quarterly meetings if budgets are malaligned.
However, there is no end to the role nurses can play in corporate, whether it?s retail clinics or start ups who value the expertise of nursing, or insurance companies, sales companies or the publishing companies. Nurses can help all of these corporate offices navigate the healthcare system and make connections with other nurses, professional organizations and healthcare providers.
Finding a corporation whose values coincide with yours is important as well. To find corporate jobs, go onto the mega job search engines and type in corporate nurse or any of the titles you see below.
Once you are in the corporate world, you can pretty much advance to any title with the right skill set, so the sky?s the limit.
One area in particular that is great to work in is the Sales industry. Nurses are generally well received and encouraged to apply, though it helps to buddy up to sales reps you know and get an ?in? that way. Word of mouth referral in the Sales industry is powerful. Also expect to make some nice bonuses, and I don?t mean a coffee mug, think $20k, 30k, 50k+ bonuses.
- Management for any healthcare related programs in corporate (retail clinics, immunizations programs, non profits)
- Sales (medical devices, pharmaceuticals, industry)
- Forensic Nurse
- Insurance Companies (utilization management, case managers, nurse navigators, supervisors, investigators, wellness coordinators)
5 Academic and Government Career Paths For Nurses
The academic and government sphere isn?t the best option for income but there are tons of opportunity for job satisfaction and flexibility here. I took a huge pay cut to enter into academics, however the quality of life was amazing. If flexibility is high on your list of priorities you can?t beat academics.
There is a surprising amount of variety as well in academics and government jobs.
You can work as an instructor, adjunct, as a chair or dean, you can run the simulation lab, or direct research or projects. You can become an academic advisor or program director. You can get a grant and basically write your own job description. You can focus on writing, projects or even get involved in your university boards, politics, committees. There are tons of opportunities to network and meet people across the various colleges.
When you get into government work, you can work at the Department of State, the Department of Health. You can develop relationships with key government officials. You can branch out into health policy, work for national and international organizations. Imagine working with the World Health Organization or the International Council of Nurses. Maybe you make an impact on the care delivered at correctional facilities.
There are tons of possibilities. This path can even lead you to become surgeon general, like Rear Adm. Sylvia Trent-Adams, PhD, RN who became acting surgeon general after Vivek Murthy, MD resigned. It?s all about being in the right place at the right time and of course, who meet along the way.
- Nursing Faculty
- Medical/Academic Editing and Coaching
- Public Health Nursing
- Federal Government ? Medicare Nurse
- National Institute of Health, World Health Organization, National Organizations
5 Entrepreneurial Paths For Nurses
Entrepreneurial opportunities abound as well for the right person. You can literally design your own destiny by starting a business. But how? Which business? There is no way to list all the entrepreneurial ideas out there, so I made a list of 5 types of businesses that I helped nurses to start.
- Specialty Nurse Services (legal, concierge, assessments)
- Coaching & Consulting
- Online Courses (healthy lifestyle, weight loss, diabetes management)
Finding Your Path In Nursing
Finding the right path in nursing isn?t an all or nothing venture. Don?t get overwhelmed trying to find the perfect track for yourself in nursing. There are lots of nonclinical jobs for nursing.
The tracks described above don?t begin to describe all the nonclinical opportunities for nurses either, but they are a good jumping point to think about what you want to do. There is almost no combination that can?t be combined with nursing.
Understanding yourself and what you are passionate about is a vital part of the self-discovery process and choosing the right path.
Discovering who you are and what you really want is the first step to take to find a nonclinical career path for yourself.
What is important to remember is that you are never stuck in one place.
There are always opportunities to learn, grow and connect as a nurse ?whether you are at the bedside, in management, or in your own company. You are always a nurse no matter what role you are in or how you are contributing to patient care. The journey is about finding the right mix of flexibility, money and job satisfaction.