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Part of Western Governors University

July 6, 2022

Nursing & Healthcare

The 10 Least Stressful Nursing Jobs This Year (2022)

nurse smiling

Nurses are not just responsible for facilitating medical care; they’re also experts in providing comfort and emotional support to patients facing stressful health issues. They look after people when they are injured, sick, or debilitated. Nursing is noble and necessary work, but it’s not without its challenges. Some of the biggest stressors for nurses include demanding schedules, time constraints, inflexible requirements, physically taxing work, workplace dangers, low staffing, patient overflow, potential violence from patients, and career burnout. Each of these stressors could make a job challenging—some nurses endure all of them at once.

In the era of COVID-19, it’s hard to imagine a hospital care career that’s low-stress. Nurses have taken the brunt of the pandemic, and, understandably, it’s taken a toll on the workforce. In fact, a 2021 study conducted by Nursing CE Central surveyed thousands of nurses across the country to find that a staggering 95% reported feeling burnt-out in their position within the last three years. Luckily for aspiring nurses, not all nursing careers are equally stressful. Some jobs and specializations are more taxing, more rewarding, or more satisfying than others. If you’re considering a career in nursing, it’s important that you familiarize yourself with the different roles in the healthcare industry and the spectrum of potential job demands. 

By enrolling in a nursing program at an accredited university with expert professors, you can confidently find your way to a nursing career that suits you. If you are looking for a career in nursing but also value a stress-free work environment, here are 10 of the least stressful nursing careers to consider. 

Nurse Educators

Nurse educators spend their careers teaching and instructing nurses at colleges, universities, and in clinical settings such as doctors' offices and hospitals. These registered nurses carry advanced nursing degrees and teachable knowledge of the workload, policies, and requirements of nursing. Nurse educators play a vital role in the healthcare industry because they have the power and skill to influence future nurses, ensuring that they are prepared to administer the highest quality of care possible. In this role, nurses don’t have to endure the same stressors as nurses who work directly with patients, and they still experience the satisfaction of making a meaningful impact. According to Salary.com, nurse educators earn an average annual salary of $103,736, but their salary range falls between $86,662 and $115,755.

Institutional Nurses

Institutional nurses practice basic medical care in hospitals, nursing homes, neighborhood clinics, and similar facilities. Some common roles for institutional nurses include that of school nurse or summer camp nurse. These nurses administer more basic care and typically don’t have to work long hours and overnight shifts, so this field of nursing tends to be low-stress. Even with less excitement, these nurses find fulfillment in providing basic and family care to those in need. Institutional nurses are usually licensed practical nurses or licensed vocational nurses (LPNs/LVNs). Indeed reports an average hourly wage of $31.06 for LPN/LVNs, and they can expect an average annual bonus of $7,875.

Research Nurses

Research nurses are integral in the process of finding and administering new, more effective treatments for patients. Most of their time on the job is spent assisting in clinical trials for studies such as cancer treatment., Research nurses also collect blood samples, administer vaccines, assess lab work, and monitor patient health to ensure that patients are comfortable, and treatment is effective. Research nurses often work in labs and have a very defined and rigorous role that doesn’t leave them exposed to the chaotic events of nurses that work in patient care in hospitals. While this job typically causes less stress, research nurses can still feel that they are making an important difference in patient care by moving the needle toward more advanced medication and treatment options. Glassdoor estimates an average annual salary of $99,372 for research nurses.

Public Health Nurses

Public health nurses care for entire populations to educate people about broader health issues and teach them how to stay healthy and safe. By working with whole communities, these nurses address the many factors, such as genetic makeup, lifestyle, and environment, that play into the health conditions of individuals and groups. Public health nurses don’t often work directly with intensive care, which means that some of the pressure is off. Many people across the country don’t have access to care, and public health nurses do the important work of providing care services to these populations, including preventive care, screening services and health education. Public health nurses make an average base salary of $64,914, according to Indeed, with an estimated annual bonus of $11,250.

nurses walking with baby

Occupational Health Nurses

Occupational health nurses provide healthcare services to the American workforce. Their main job responsibility is to assess workers’ health status in relation to their job tasks and hazards.  Effective occupational health nurses treat workplace injuries and illnesses and prevent health effects from hazardous exposures. These nurses also help with the recovery and conditioning for a certain workplace, and in that sense, their scope is less stressful than many other nursing careers, such as ER nursing. An occupational health nurse plays an important role in the workplace because they care for and protect workers. Indeed reports an average annual salary of $70,287 for occupational nurses, plus an estimated yearly bonus of $8,000.

Case Management Nurses

Case management nurses develop, implement, and review healthcare plans for patients that are geriatric, recovering from serious injuries, or dealing with chronic illnesses. Case management nurses work both inside and outside of hospitals and medical facilities. They collaborate with doctors and other medical professionals to give their patients the comprehensive care they need. This includes advocating for their patients, coordinating their care, and providing other healthcare services and education. Since these nurses work behind the scenes in helping patients access resources and services, there is little danger or risk, which provides for a low-stress work environment. Nurse case manager salaries vary, but Payscale estimates an average salary of $72,017 per year, or about $34.16 per hour.

Home Health Nurses

Home health nurses provide one-on-one care for patients in their homes. These patients are usually elderly, critically ill, or disabled, or they may be recovering from a surgery, injury, or accident. In-home nurses can also assist pregnant women and new mothers with ongoing care, support, and education. Since home health nurses usually treat individual patients, they have the luxury of more time in the recovery process, giving patients and themselves a calm ecosystem for healthcare. Home health nurses earn an average rate of $22.65 per hour, as reported by Indeed.

Clinic Nurses

A clinic nurse is the first face patients see when they enter a medical clinic. Clinic nurses provide care, assess patients, order medical tests, and develop and communicate treatment plans. Clinic nurses typically support small organizations that can staff them to augment services, check vitals, and do routine work. This is a lower-stress nursing role that entails mostly long-term care and rarely deals with urgent situations or emergencies. Ziprecruiter estimates that the average annual salary for clinic nurses is $49,856.

Nurse Informaticists

Nursing informaticists work at the intersection of nursing, communications, computer science, and information science. Nurses who hold nursing informatics jobs use their clinical backgrounds as well as their computer and organizational skills. They analyze and develop the health systems that nurses use in the clinical setting. Tracking and interpreting healthcare data is a huge task, but because it is a remote position, it’s less stressful while remaining rewarding. According to Payscale, these nurses earn an average annual salary of $79,790.

Nurse Administrators

Nurse administrators supervise nurses and healthcare teams in hospitals and other care facilities. They lead practicing nurses through requirements, policies, and protocols, and help them establish and adhere to standards. Nurse administrators take on a managerial role and usually work out of an office. They use their business sense, strong communication skills, and mastery of time management to create effective nursing teams. These nurses don’t typically deal with direct patient care, so their jobs tend to be on the low-stress end of the spectrum. The average annual nurse administrator salary is $97,007, according to Salary.com.

Find Satisfaction in Nursing through WGU

Pursuing a career in nursing means pursuing a lifetime of providing care to those in need. But that shouldn’t also mean a lifetime of stress. There are plenty of nursing careers to choose from that allow you to fulfill your dream of helping others while also making your mental health a top priority. WGU’s bachelor’s degrees and master’s degrees in nursing will equip you with all the skills you need to work in any role in the nursing industry, and with the knowledge to make the choice that’s best for you. With one of these flexible healthcare degrees, you can complete your advanced education on your own time and open the door to a world of nursing opportunities. 

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