1. Career Advice
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  3. 10 Most common career changes for nurses ready for a new role
10 Most Common Career Changes for Nurses Ready for a New Role

10 Most common career changes for nurses ready for a new role

Artwork by: Antonina Kasyanikova

  • Why do nurses change careers?
  • 1. Stress
  • 2. Difficult hours
  • 3. Better pay
  • 4. Work-life balance
  • 5. New skills and opportunities
  • What transferable skills and education do nurses have?
  • 1. Technical skills
  • 2. Education
  • 10 Alternative career paths for nurses
  • 1. Telehealth nurse
  • 2. Physical therapist
  • 3. Healthcare recruiter
  • 4. Pharmaceutical sales representative
  • 5. Nutritionist
  • 6. Health information technician
  • 7. Midwife
  • 8. Medical writer
  • 9. Hospital administrator
  • 10. Health educator
  • Key takeaways

If you’re a nurse looking for a new career, there are other ways to use your specialized skills. Because of your transferable skills and education, you can select a new opportunity from a range of fields. Start here with our blog to learn about 10 common career changes for nurses.

Nursing is one of the most important professions there is, but it’s not the right choice for everyone. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, there is an increasing trend of nurses looking for new work. This is due to a variety of causes, including long work hours, low pay, professional burnout, and stress. 

If you’re a nurse who needs a change, you may be wondering what else you can do. Fortunately, your experience can be a powerful asset when applying for new jobs. You have a range of valuable educational credentials and skills that qualify you for a brand-new career. 

What are some common career change options for nurses?In the following sections, we’ll cover:

  • Why do nurses change careers?

  • What transferable skills and education do nurses have?

  • 10 alternative career paths for nurses

Why do nurses change careers?

While nursing is a rewarding career path, it can also present many unique challenges. After a few years, many nurses start to feel burned out and may look for a new way to use their skills. Here are some of the primary reasons that nurses may look for a career change:

1. Stress

The high stakes of medical work and an exhausting environment can often lead to burnout. Additionally, many hospitals struggle with understaffing, leading to more work for the remaining employees. Consequently, nurses may look for alternative career paths in an attempt to enhance their mental health. 

2. Difficult hours

To provide life-saving care, hospitals need to be open at all times. This often leads to extremely difficult hours for hospital staff, especially nurses, who provide routine care to patients 24 hours a day. They may work nights, weekends, and holidays, and have to remain on-call for long periods. Eventually, some nurses change careers in an attempt to find a better schedule. 

3. Better pay

For how much work nurses complete, some feel that they are underpaid. Since medical skills are transferable, many move into better-paying fields. In some cases, a nurse may feel fairly compensated and simply take a better-paying job because the opportunity presents itself. 

4. Work-life balance

Nursing can become an all-consuming career. Because of their hours and responsibilities, many nurses have little time to spend with their friends and loved ones. This leads some to look for jobs that offer greater flexibility. 

5. New skills and opportunities

Not all nurses switch careers due to burnout. Some are simply interested in following a new path, learning new skills, having new experiences, or exploring their passions. They may leverage their medical skills into a new path that provides greater fulfillment. 

What transferable skills and education do nurses have?

Nurses have a wide range of competencies that are valuable in many fields. These include soft skills as well as technical medical skills. Additionally, nurses have educational and professional credentials that they can leverage when choosing a new path. 

Here are some of the top transferable skills that you may have as a nurse:

1. Technical skills

Becoming a nurse is not for the faint of heart. It requires deep medical expertise and a range of technical skills. Here are some of the top technical skills that nurses can use to find a new job:

  • Medical record-keeping

  • Intravenous medication

  • Pharmaceutical knowledge

  • Treatment planning

  • Sample selection for lab testing

Nurses in specialized fields may also have unique skills. These could include prenatal and postpartum care, anesthesiology, cardiac care, psychiatric care, or pediatrics. 

2. Education

Aside from on-the-job skills, nurses also have extensive educational credentials as well as professional licenses. Many of these can help ex-nurses get a new job once they decide to change careers. Some of these include:

  • Associate’s degree in Nursing

  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing

  • Master of Science in Nursing

  • Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) certification

  • Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) certification

  • Registered Nurse (RN) certification

10 Alternative career paths for nurses

If you don’t want to be a nurse anymore and instead want to transition to a new career (no matter your age), you have options, and your experience and knowledge will be advantageous. Here are some common alternative career paths for former nurses:

1. Telehealth nurse

If you’re looking for a flexible career with better hours and improved work-life balance, working as a telehealth nurse might be right for you. Although you’ll still be in the nursing field, this job is a good way to avoid some of the less desirable elements of hospital and clinic work. Telehealth nurses are responsible for providing consultation and healthcare over the phone or via email. Video conferencing is also increasingly popular as it becomes available to more patients. 

2. Physical therapist

Physical therapists (PTs) use a variety of stretching, strengthening, and mobility exercises to help patients recover from injuries and regain full motor function. If you’ve worked as a nurse, you already have extensive medical expertise that is extremely helpful as a physical therapist. Keep in mind that you’ll have to complete a physical therapy program and earn a state license before you can work as a PT.

3. Healthcare recruiter

Healthcare recruiters are responsible for locating qualified healthcare workers and connecting them with hospitals, clinics, and other facilities that need their services. As an ex-nurse, you have a good understanding of what’s required to succeed in the healthcare industry, and this job might be a natural next step. 

4. Pharmaceutical sales representative

Nurses regularly administer medication to patients and have a good understanding of common pharmaceuticals. This is great preparation for a career as a pharmaceutical representative. These professionals are responsible for informing doctors about the benefits of various medications and managing drug sales. 

5. Nutritionist

Nutritionists are responsible for assessing the nutritional needs of their patients and developing plans to improve their health. This may include creating meal plans, recommending diets, planning exercise routines, monitoring patient progress, and prescribing supplements. 

6. Health information technician

Health information technicians are responsible for managing patient medical data in hospitals and other large medical facilities. Their main duties are to protect patient privacy, maintain accurate and up-to-date records, and provide access to authorized parties. As a nurse, you’re already familiar with HIPAA regulations and medical record-keeping.

7. Midwife

If you’ve worked as a neonatal or obstetrics and gynecology nurse, you’re already an expert in prenatal and postpartum care for infants and mothers. As a midwife, you’ll care for expecting mothers, address pregnancy complications, and assist with delivery, often from your patients’ homes. 

8. Medical writer

Your clinical expertise gives you an understanding of the medical industry, including terminology and regulations. A medical writer is responsible for scientific documents that feature research, healthcare content, news articles, and clinical data.

9. Hospital administrator

If you’ve worked in a hospital, you probably have a good idea of the massive effort it keeps to keep one running. Hospital administrators are highly skilled managers who ensure that hospital employees have what they need to succeed. Common tasks include directing and supervising employee tasks, managing inventory, hiring and onboarding staff, and overseeing strategic hospital goals. 

10. Health educator

Health education specialists teach their communities how to stay healthy through positive habits. They may work for government agencies, nonprofit organizations, and sometimes healthcare providers. Nurses are well-placed to work in public health education, as they have ample medical knowledge and experience with educating their patients. 

When changing careers, you will want to present a resume that highlights your best attributes. Journey over to Career.io’s Resume Builder for assistance.

Key takeaways

  1. Nurses change careers for a wide variety of reasons, including stress, burnout, low pay, and excessive work. 

  2. Some nurses simply change careers because a better opportunity presents itself, rather than because of dissatisfaction. 

  3. As a nurse, you have a wide variety of transferable skills, including medical expertise. 

  4. Some alternative careers for nurses include telehealth nurse, physical therapist, healthcare recruiter, and pharmaceutical sales representative. 

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