9 Careers for Registered Nurses Beyond the Hospital Bedside

9 Careers for RNs Beyond the Hospital Bedside

People typically connect nursing to caring for ill patients at the hospital bedside. Tasks associated with this role include administering medications, interpreting lab values, assessing the patient, and following a doctor’s order. As a result, working in a setting other than the bedside can come with the stigma of not being a “real nurse.”

While bedside nursing is a common career for many, it is not the only possible career path. Nurses are needed for positions in a variety of fields, offering ample opportunities to shift roles while staying in the industry.

Aesthetic or Cosmetic Nurse

Nurses who love the idea of helping patients with their skin or improving their appearance should consider pursuing certifications for plastic surgery or aesthetics. Cosmetic nurses generally work in a medical spa or private practice office for a dermatologist, ophthalmologist, or facial plastic surgeon. Cosmetic nurses can be trained to give injections such as botox and laser treatments, as well as assist with sclerotherapy to treat varicose veins.

To get started as an aesthetic nurse, you must work for a physician who is board-certified in plastic surgery, ophthalmology, ear/nose/throat (ENT), or dermatology. Surgical nursing experience may be required for some roles, while on-the-job training is available for others.

By obtaining a certification, cosmetic nurses who have experience working with physicians can demonstrate expertise in this field with either of the following certifications: Certified Plastic Surgical Nurse (CPSN) or Certified Aesthetic Nurse Specialist (CANS).

Certified Clinical Transplant Nurse (CCTN)

The United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) collaborated with hospitals to perform over 11,900 donor surgeries in 2019, saving nearly 40,000 lives through organ transplants. A transplant coordinator works as an intermediary between the deceased patient’s family, UNOS, transplant surgeons, and the hospitals performing transplants.

This particularly intense position requires working long hours, being on-call, and enduring the extremely emotional experience of supporting dying patients’ families. A significant amount of travel is required to reach different locations in the region, and strong communication skills are critical.

The advantage of this role is the ability to transform a terrible loss into an improved quality of life for patients around the country. Certification and job-specific education are required to fill this role.

Coach or Entrepreneur

In every stage of their career, nurses have the opportunity to help others or receive support to get through a challenging time. Working as a nurse coach is a great way to help new graduate nurses seeking assistance or other nurses with their fitness, health, career, or financial journey.

Nurse entrepreneurs offer services such as NCLEX exam preparation or tips for expanding skills in a certain specialty. Creating courses, offering advice, empowering nurses, serving as a social media influencer, and advocating for cultural changes are just a few of the ways that nurses can leverage their expertise to help other nurses.

Diabetes Nurse Educator

If you enjoy teaching and demonstrating, becoming a diabetes educator may be the right career move. The CDC estimates that 34.2 million Americans, or 1 in 10 people, are diagnosed with diabetes and another 88 million Americans are pre-diabetic.

These vast numbers demonstrate the significant need for diabetes nurse educators to provide patients with nutritional recommendations, insulin and medication guidance and technology-driven support.

Diabetes nurse educators can work in a hospital, outpatient, or public health setting. The Association for Diabetes Care and Education Specialists (ADCES) is a professional organization that offers guidance, education, and support for nurses in this role.

Fertility or Reproductive Health Nurse

Patients experiencing infertility require frequent visits to a reproductive endocrinologist for support with the process of getting pregnant. Reproductive or fertility nurses work with physicians to assist with procedures, participate in lab work, provide education, and triage phone calls. While this role can be unpredictable, it is also incredibly rewarding when women receive the exciting news that they are pregnant. Certification for this role is also available from the American Society for Reproductive Medicine and provides 16 continuing education credit hours.

Freelance Nurse Writer

Nurses who love writing and sharing educational content should consider becoming a freelance writer. Organizations and companies need quality writers with clinical expertise to write across a range of mediums. This may include writing articles, blogs, educational pamphlets, white papers, or website copy. In addition to pursuing this role full-time, nurses can also take it on as a side hustle to maintain job stability.

Foster Care Nurse

Pediatric nurses may wish to leave the bedside and assist children as a foster care nurse. Classified as a public health or community nurse, this role involves addressing the medical needs of fostered children. Nurses can work for non-profit organizations such as Angels In Waiting or for government agencies that place children in the foster care system.

The job encompasses collaborating with social workers and case managers to assess the needs of children on both a medical and developmental scale. Foster parents who care for medically fragile children require education and guidance for following through on medical treatment plans.

If you’re considering this role, it’s important to possess the ability to manage stressful and emotional situations such as child neglect, physical abuse, or babies who are born with drug addiction. There is no certification required to apply for these types of positions.

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