Published: Jul 02, 2020
When most people think about a career in nursing, they usually don’t consider that nurses can fill several different roles. While most nurses serve patients directly, there are different specialties within the field that nurses can pursue once they finish their education.
As health care grows and changes, new nursing specialties are emerging to meet the demands of hospitals and patients. Here are five growing careers in nursing to consider.
1. Concierge Nurse
Most people who get into nursing are driven by compassion. They want to care for those who are sick or injured, and their goal is to ensure that each patient gets the personalized care they need. In the hospital or traditional office setting, the focus is often on volume, not quality.
Concierge nursing could be the answer to issues like high patient ratios and reduced quality of care. Currently, it’s private and subscription-based, paid upfront, with concierge nurses providing personalized primary care to patients. This is also known as direct primary care (DPC).
Many nurses who get into concierge health care do so because it allows them to better serve patients and enjoy more autonomy. A career in concierge nursing can be extremely fulfilling for nurses who want to spend more time with their patients and do more preventative care.
2. Missions Nurse
If you’re passionate about global health care and you feel called to make a major difference in the world, then serving as a missions nurse could be the perfect career path. Some nurses participate in multiple medical mission trips, while others only travel abroad once or twice.
Typically, missions nurses work together in rural areas abroad where health care is difficult to access to provide medical care and support for the local community. It is important for nurses to work with reputable, ethical organizations dedicated to the communities they serve. Some nurses go on learning missions to observe before providing care themselves.
According to Brenda Swanson-Biearman, DNP, MPH, RN, Health Administration and Public Health Coordinator of Public Health Programs at Duquesne University, “More than a billion people live without access to basic health care. Mission nurses get great fulfillment in caring for and educating those who are without basic resources. They’re assigned to an area of specific need for a specified time and can vary from several days to years. The donation for the experience is tax deductible.”
Nurses who want to participate in medical missions should ask themselves some hard questions before applying for any trips. Typically, longer missions are more beneficial for underserved communities, and nurses must be willing to think of the needs of patients above anything else when making decisions about serving abroad. Missions can be physically and emotionally taxing, and nurses need to prepare themselves as much as possible.
3. Night Shift Nurse
Patients need care around the clock. Most nurses prefer to keep regular hours and try to get daytime shifts, but night shift nurses are desperately needed to ensure patients’ safety overnight. There are pros and cons to being a night shift nurse, but it’s a nursing career that’s in high demand and can be very rewarding.
Night shift nurses care for their patients when they’re most vulnerable. They might have trouble sleeping and may be in more pain than they are during the day. This is a great opportunity for caring individuals to provide comfort and make a real difference in patients’ lives.
Nurses who work at night also have more flexibility in their schedules, since they don’t work during the day. Getting enough sleep can be a challenge, but many night nurses love that they have the ability to pursue other interests during the day.
Says Dr. Swanson-Biearman, “A benefit of being a night shift nurse includes extra pay known as ‘shift differential’—being able to stay home with dependent children during the day, limiting the need for childcare. And typically, the hospital is a bit quieter at night and patients are usually not being moved for tests or procedures and there are few if any visitors.”
4. Travel Nurse
In the United States, we’re facing health care personnel shortages as the number of patients continues to rise. Traveling nurses help to fill in the gaps when hospitals find themselves short-staffed or do not have enough experienced nurses on staff.
Being a traveling nurse can be challenging, but it’s a great career path for people who love to travel and experience new places. A traveling nurse might work at a hospital for several weeks or months before moving on to a new assignment.
According to Dr. Swanson-Biearman, “The traveling nurse is a great career choice for someone who wants to move around and try new places. The pay is usually higher and may include bonuses and some include housing. Nurses can enjoy relatively short stints or work for longer periods of time depending upon need and can refuse a site as needed. They can manage extended vacations with time they have opted not to work.”
Travel nurses work with agencies to take on assignments. The flexibility of this work is extremely attractive for many nurses, but it can be stressful to look for housing and get up to speed in each work environment. Some people are very well-suited to this lifestyle, while others do best in a permanent position.
5. Nurse Educator
Nurses who are experienced in patient care can take their career in a new direction and become nurse educators. Nurse educators train, guide, and evaluate new nurses as they learn how to care for patients. They develop curriculums and evaluations to ensure that the next generations of nurses are well-prepared for work in the field.
Nurse educators are absolutely crucial to the future of health care. We need them to help shape compassionate, competent, and competent nurses of the future so that patients never feel like they are alone or unsafe. The role of nurse educator requires leadership, patience, and unparalleled dedication—but can be one of the most satisfying roles of all in the field of nursing.
Sarah Daren has been a consultant for startups in multiple industries, including health and wellness, wearable technology, nursing, and education. She implements her health knowledge into every aspect of her life, including her position as a yoga instructor and raising her two children. When she's not watching the New York Yankees play, Sarah enjoys practicing yoga and reading a good book on the beach.
Healthcare is a constantly growing industry. This is due to a rising elderly population, a rise of chronic conditions such as diabetes and obesity (due to environmental and lifestyle anomalies), advancement in medicine and in medical technology, and the growth in the number of people seeking medical care due to availability of health insurance.
If you’re interested in working in healthcare but don’t think a clinical job is right for you, the good news is there are several excellent healthcare careers that don’t require rigorous medical training. Here are three of the fastest growing alternative career paths in healthcare—in part thanks to the increasingly prominent roles they’re playing in impacting patient care.
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