If you've been thinking about a career in nursing but don't necessarily like the idea of working in a hospital, you'll be happy to learn there are abundant nursing opportunities in other settings. Whether you want to work with children or provide individualized care, today it's easier than ever to find a nursing position that fits your specific career goals. And some nursing positions don't require you to provide direct patient care at all.
But no matter where your healthcare career takes you, a nursing degree will be a valuable asset, as it gives you the foundational knowledge to figure out which path is right for you. Here's a look at five fascinating nursing careers outside the hospital.
1. Home Health Nurse
Put your assessment skills to good use as a nurse who delivers care directly in the patient's home. Home health nurses enjoy a high degree of autonomy in making nursing diagnoses, assessing patient conditions, planning interventions, and administering treatments. According to Nurse Journal, these types of nurses care for the overall well-being of a patient, performing tasks such as bathing, administering medication, treating bedsores, and dressing changes.
Home health nurses tend to develop close relationships with their patients over the course of repeated visits, something many nurses find incredibly rewarding. And since most of these nurses only work during daytime hours, you need never dread getting scheduled on overnight shifts as you would at a hospital.
2. School Nurse
Public school nurses play a vital role in keeping children healthy. The school nurse role combines the technical skills of nursing with a dollop of social work to address children's physical and sometimes mental health needs within the school environment.
On any given day, you may be administering medication to a student, applying ice packs to a twisted ankle, or meeting with parents to connect them with community resources for clothing and school supplies, as well as mental health resources they may require. The strong community health education you'll get with a nursing degree will serve you well as a school nurse.
3. Public Health Nurse
In this career path, you'll have the chance to influence public policy related to health trends in your community. According to Nurse Journal, public health nurses work in a variety of settings, including community clinics, outpatient clinics, and government organizations. In these settings, public health nurses review risk factors across populations, creating interventions specific to health threats in the geographical area. They also develop and implement health promotion campaigns, such as 5K walks for heart health or by handing out wellness literature at health fairs.
If you love research, this career might be perfect for you: As a public health nurse, you'll interpret research studies and epidemiology reports to create targeted interventions that benefit everyone who lives in your area, improving the health of your community.
4. Clinic Nurse
If you found the perfect clinical niche during your nursing school rotations—maybe you loved women's health or enjoyed orthopedic surgery—you might want to pursue a career working in ambulatory care. Nurses who work in private practice or clinics provide specialized care to specific patient populations.
In this role, you'll not only use your general nursing skills, but you'll also develop a deep knowledge base related to specific types of diseases, treatments, and procedures. If you enjoy immersing yourself in a particular specialty, you may love being a clinic nurse.
5. Diabetes Educator
Some diabetes educators do work in hospitals, while others work in endocrinology clinics, the public health department, or for insurance companies. But no matter where they work, these professionals make a real difference in people's lives. These nurses work with patients with diabetes to create nutrition and activity plans, and they also make strategic recommendations on how to mitigate the symptoms of the disease.
Nurses make excellent diabetes educators because their education provides them with a strong understanding of diet, nutrition, and the pathophysiology of disease processes like diabetes. Plus, nurses understand how to evaluate and treat wounds, like the foot ulcers so often seen in people with diabetes. If you love the idea of having a profound impact on someone's quality of life as a nurse, diabetes education could be the career for you.
While it's true that roughly 60 percent of nurses work in hospitals, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are nursing opportunities outside the hospital setting that offer a chance to use your degree in specialized ways. For instance, a nursing education sets you up to pursue one of the top five careers in nursing, including psychiatric nurse practitioner and family nurse practitioner. Starting with a bachelor of science in nursing degree, you can chart a fascinating career without necessarily setting foot inside a hospital every day.