Top 20 Non-Bedside Nursing Jobs
Hospitals will always need bedside care, but more and more nurses are looking for non-bedside nursing jobs, especially as the COVID-19 pandemic makes patient care even more exhausting than usual.
The pandemic has stretched hospitals to the limit with nurses taking on more patients, working more shifts, dealing with PPE shortages, and navigating emotional pain alongside patient families who have lost loved ones.
Anyone can understand why you might need a break from this demanding and perpetual stress and be looking to make a career change as a nurse.
Fortunately, the medical field has been growing more flexible in recent decades. Career opportunities for nurses beyond the bedside are no longer limited to school nurse, nursing home, or home health jobs. Read on for jobs that will take you out of patient care, while allowing you to use your nursing skills.
The Best Non-Bedside Jobs for Nurses
When you’re ready for a non-bedside nursing job to challenge your nursing skills and give your years of experience at the bedside a new use, consider these possibilities:
1. Nursing Informatics
The need to analyze and control health care costs has driven a surge in informatics as a nursing specialty. Effective nursing informatics can help to rein in health care costs at hospitals and other medical facilities. Plus, informaticists can also help bedside nurses care for patients more efficiently by improving systems.
The Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) says nurse informaticists make a range from $61,000 and $115,000.
The American Medical Informatics Association estimates 70,000 nursing informatics specialists/analysts may be needed in the next five years.
To get into the field of health informatics, registered nurses typically need at least a bachelor’s degree in nursing (BSN) and experience working with electronic healthcare records.
Along with a BSN and a few years of clinical experience, you’d need strong computer skills and an ability to analyze data and statistics to make this transition. If you work for a large public or university hospital, your facility may hire informaticists.
As a bonus, you could likely work from home.
2. Nurse Case Manager
“More and more reimbursement for healthcare delivery is linked to readmission rates,” said Cheryl Bergman, professor at the school of nursing at Jacksonville (Fla.) University.“ A nurse case manager helps manage the holistic care of patients to decrease readmission thus, keeping patients out of hospitals.”
The Commission for Case Manager Certification (CCMC) expects an increase in the demand for nurse case managers as the baby boomer generation continues to age. Case managers are especially important to patients with chronic illnesses such as arthritis.
The average base salary for a nurse case manager in 2022 is about $75,367 according to the website Payscale.com which reflects data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and its own research.
Case managers can choose many places of employment including clinics, hospitals, health facilities and in many areas of the public and nonprofit sectors. They also have a chance to specialize in their passionate areas such as addiction, pediatrics, child welfare, aging, long-term care, immigration, occupational services and more.
3. Cruise Ship Nurse
A beyond-the-bedside job search could land you in a position that resembles an ongoing vacation. In normal, non-pandemic times, cruise ships come and go from the nation’s Southern port cities every day. These ships have to bring healthcare providers like cruise ship nurses on board to care for their passengers.
ZipRecruiter estimates that cruise ship nurses earn an average of $80,581 per year, though they also estimate that more than half of current cruise ship nurses earn less.
But don’t expect to leave your nursing skills on the dock. A recent job post from Norwegian Lines sought nurses with emergency room and ICU experience. The job entailed living onboard for 14 weeks with vacations of 7 weeks at a time, and accommodations, meals, and benefits were all paid for.
Of course, COVID-19 has stalled the cruise industry, but this was a fast-growing segment of the medical profession back in 2018 and 2019. As the world returns to normal in the coming years, these employers will be searching for nurses again.
4. Legal Nurse Consultant
“Some law firms hire expert nurses for particular cases (such as surgical nurses if the case involved a surgical claim),” Bergman, of Jacksonville University, says. “The pay per hour is often set by the nurse and could be very lucrative ($300 an hour) for reviewing the legal documents with additional fees if called for deposition.”
Although it’s not mandatory, the American Association of Legal Nurse Consultants (AALNC) offers a training course and certification examination for those hoping to become legal nurse consultants.
This kind of training could help set you apart from other job candidates who have similar qualifications.
5. Nurse Educator
Nurse educators can shape the future of patient care, both at the bedside and throughout the nursing profession.
To teach nursing you’ll likely need a master of science in nursing (MSN) degree. You can also earn a doctor of nursing practice (DNP) degree that prepares you for leadership positions in multiple aspects of health care.
“For salaries, it really depends on the region of the country,” Bergman says. “Additionally, the place of employment such as a community college vs. a large state university will have varying salary ranges.”
6. Healthcare Risk Manager
Risk managers work to ensure patient and staff safety, respond to claims of clinical malpractice, focus on patient complaints, and comply with federal and state regulations.
In short, risk managers protect the well-being of patients and staff in hospitals or anywhere people get health care.
You’d need a bachelor’s degree to enter this field, and some RN risk managers have master’s degrees, especially if they teach safety courses to other nurses within a healthcare institution.
In 2022, full-time risk managers earn a mean salary of about $120,157 annually according to Salary.com. The Bureau of Labor Statistics anticipates a steep increase in nurse risk managers during the coming years. The BLS forecasts a 12% increase in these positions by 2030.
For more healthcare jobs to explore, check out our ultimate list of healthcare careers.
7. Certified Diabetes Educator
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says 21 million people in the United States have been diagnosed with diabetes while another 8 million have this condition but don’t know it yet. That’s a lot of people who will need help controlling their blood sugar in the next few years.
This translates to job security for nurses who work as certified diabetes educators. Payscale.com reports an average salary of about $70,510 annually.
This role leaves plenty of room to develop long-term relationships with your patients, who you can visit in their homes or meet within a clinic.
You would need a bachelor’s degree in nursing to begin your career as a certified diabetes educator. Most employers require two years of experience before you work on your own.
8. Flight Nurse
Bedside nurses who enjoy critical/emergency care may enjoy the challenges of flight nursing. Flight nurses help transport critical patients via helicopter or airplane.
Often, flight nurses transport patients from the scenes of accidents to trauma centers. They also deliver patients from small hospitals to higher-level trauma centers.
Flight nurses do work that resembles emergency room or ICU nursing but in less predictable environments and often with fewer resources.
If this career path appeals to you, start by gaining some experience in the ED and/or ICU. Then, you can get certified as a flight nurse by the Board of Certification for Emergency Nursing (BCEN).
Glassdoor reports that the average salary for a flight nurse is $93,901 as of December 2021, although there can be a wide range and flight nurses most likely can earn significantly more.
9. Forensic Nurse
Forensic nurses help solve crimes and collect evidence. They can also help a coroner determine a cause of death.
But they’re still nurses first: They provide compassionate care to crime victims and survivors of natural disasters. Forensic nurses can also testify in court during criminal trials.
According to Ziprecruiter, the average salary for Forensic Nurses is $35.00 per hour, or $72,659 annually.
If you live in a larger city such as Philadelphia, Seattle, Los Angeles, Miami, or New York, you’ll have more access to job opportunities in this new and emerging field.
Check with city and county law enforcement departments in your community to look for jobs. If you’re particularly passionate about this career path, appeal to your city leaders to add forensic nursing to your local police department.
10. Nurse Health Coach
Are you the kind of bedside nurse who enjoys developing one-on-one relationships? Have you ever found yourself, weeks after a discharge, wondering how a patient is getting along?
You may enjoy becoming a nurse health coach. These registered nurses need a BSN and a certification from the International Nurse Coaching Association.
Insurance companies often hire nurse health coaches to help policy-holders sustain wellness after a procedure or surgery. You could also work as a freelance health coach, picking up clients from an insurance company or local healthcare provider.
ZipRecruiter reports that Nurse Health Coaches earn $64,239 annually on average in 2022.
11. Nurse Administrator
If you want to get away from direct patient care at the bedside but think you would love the business side of healthcare, nursing administration may be the perfect new career for you.
Nurse administrators manage staffing and business matters within hospitals, medical centers, outpatient, or clinic settings. Wherever there is a team of nurses you will also find one or more nurse administrators to ensure that healthcare operations and staffing are safe, effective, and efficient manner.
Nurse administrators oversee and manage staff to ensure quality patient care. There are many types of nurse administrator roles, which can include:
- Nurse Managers
- Unit Directors
- Health Informatics Managers
- Human Resource Managers
- Facility Managers
- Outpatient Managers
- Clinic Managers
Nurse administrators do not provide direct patient care at the bedside. Instead, they manage nursing staff who do. As leaders in the healthcare setting, nurse administrators manage staff scheduling, write reports, attend meetings with other administrators, manage budgets to ensure cost-effectiveness, and ensure nursing staff provides the highest level of safe patient care.
There will be high demand for more nurse administrators over the next decade. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that medical and health services manager employment is projected to grow 32% from 2020 to 2030, much higher than the average for all professions.
The BLS also states that medical and health service managers earned a median annual salary of $101,340 or $48.72/hr in 2021.
Although the minimum education in many facilities is a bachelor’s degree in nursing (BSN), most healthcare institutions require a minimum of a Master’s Degree of Science (MSN), specializing in nursing administration.
12. Telehealth Nurse
Telehealth nursing uses mobile phones, tablets, and computers to provide remote healthcare and medical education.
Telehealth nursing has been around since the 1990s but wasn’t widely adopted until the COVID-19 pandemic closed doors across the globe. Fortunately, patients and healthcare providers have embraced telehealth medical care to deliver high-quality and efficient healthcare to people in the comfort of their own homes.
One of the most significant benefits of telehealth nursing is many nurses can provide patient care from their own homes as well! This can be helpful for nurses who don’t want to work long 12+ hour shifts, commute through traffic, and deal with other scheduling inefficiencies that can come with working in a medical facility.
Telehealth nursing requires a minimum of an associate's degree in nursing (ADN) or BSN for employment. Nurses may also be required to complete telehealth nurse training and obtain certification in telehealth nursing from the American Academy of Ambulatory Care Nursing (AAACN).
13. Nurse Writer
Nursing school requires excellent communication and writing dozens, if not hundreds, of papers about healthcare. This is why some nurses may want to turn their skills into a new writing career.
Many nurse writers start their new careers writing part-time while working at the bedside. Some also say that they started writing to manage and process the stress they experienced as bedside nurses.
There are many types of nurse writers, which may include:
- Nurse bloggers
- Freelance health writers
- Breaking nurse news writers
- Nursing education
- Medical Writing
Many employers will require a BSN, although an ADN is the minimum educational requirement for registered nurses. Nurses medical writers may also want to become Medical Writer Certified (MWC) from the Medical Writing Certification Commission.
14. Correctional Nurse
Just because some patients are incarcerated doesn’t mean they don’t need medical care, mental health care, or emergency care.
Correctional nurses care for patients who are inmates in prisons and correctional facilities. Some nurses may shy away from working with patients who have committed - sometimes severe - crimes. However, others may find the change in environment a great learning experience.
Correctional nurses work in correctional facilities, prisons, and detention centers alongside other inmates. The work is essential to keep inmates healthy and prevent them from needing medical care in a hospital.
Some of the tasks that correctional nurses perform include:
- Health assessments
- Medication administration
- Assisting physicians with minor medical procedures
- Obtaining specimens for diagnostic testing
- Monitoring physical and psychosocial well being
- Documenting patient medical records
- Ensuring patient safety
- Collaborating with physicians and other health care providers about health issues
- Maintaining the security of work areas and equipment
Even though correctional nurses work with convicted criminals, it is much safer than one may think. Correctional facilities have security processes that hospitals don’t have. In addition, nurses have officers with them in the medical unit.
15. School Nurse
If children have always been your favorite patient population or you just need a change of pace from working with adults, then becoming a school nurse may be an excellent fit for you!
“School nurses help students be healthy, safe, and ready to learn,” according to the National Association of School Nurses (NASN).
Some of the benefits of becoming a school nurse include:
- Only work during school hours (M-F)
- Never work on weekends or holidays
- If you have small children of your own, you can expect to have the same work schedule as their school schedule.
Some of the daily tasks of a school nurse include:
- Providing first aid care
- Organizing and giving care to students with chronic or acute health issues
- Administering medications
- Performing vision and hearing screenings
- Providing health education to kids
- Educating and training staff about asthma, pathogens, diabetes, and nutrition
- Assisting with COVID-19 testing and contact tracing
- Helping families obtain health care services and access health insurance
Requirements to become a school nurse can vary depending on the school and location. However, like most other alternative nursing careers, most employers will want to hire nurses with several years of clinical experience and a minimum of a BSN.
16. Public Health Nurse
As opposed to bedside nurses who work one-on-one with patients, public health nurses promote the health of an entire population. Some of the tasks they perform include:
- Providing health screenings
- Identifying prominent health issues and risk factors within a community
- Developing and implementing health education campaigns
- Giving vaccines
- Managing blood drives
Public health nurses work in a variety of locations outside of the hospital setting, such as:
- Local health clinics
- Senior centers
- Community centers
- Government agencies
- Non-profit groups
- Homeless shelters
- Small businesses
Many public health nurses work with underserved communities who otherwise would not have access to healthcare in their communities.
The minimum education required to become a public health nurse is an ADN. However, like most other nursing specialties, most employers prefer a BSN or higher level of education. In addition, most public health employers require at least a few years of clinical bedside experience for employment consideration.
Nurses with a BSN who have a minimum of 5 years of public health experience can also earn a Certification in Public Health (CPH) through the National Board of Public Health Examiners.
17. Infection Control Nurse
If you like working in the hospital setting and enjoy conducting research, you may want to consider becoming an infection control nurse.
As we have seen with COVID-19, high-quality infection control practices in healthcare are essential to save lives.
Infection Control Nurses, also known as Infection Prevention Nurses, help identify and prevent the spread of disease within a healthcare setting. They are highly trained and educated in spreading infectious diseases and outbreaks. Infection Control nurses are also responsible for communicating the best infection prevention practices to staff to provide the highest quality of patient care possible.
For consideration in an Infection Control Nurse role, employers usually require a minimum of a few years experience in a clinical setting role and a BSN. However, some employers may require an MSN.
You may also be required to complete a certain amount of infection control training and pass a Certification Infection Control (CIC) exam from the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC).
18. Nurse Recruiter
Nurse recruiters help healthcare, and medical companies fill staffing gaps. This allows hospitals and health facilities to provide safe and effective patient care and ensure that the business's operations continue to run smoothly.
Nurse recruiters help fill travel nursing positions, contract-nursing jobs, and career positions in every specialty you can imagine - even flight, cruise, and school nursing!
Many nurse recruiting companies prefer hiring nurses because they have first-hand knowledge of the career and what it takes to be a successful nurse.
Roles of nurse recruiters may include:
- Collaborating with healthcare facilities to clearly understand their staffing needs and fill vacancies quickly
- Scheduling and interviewing nurse candidates
- Marketing nurses to potential health facilities by promoting their strengths and ensuring a good fit within a department
- Attending professional conferences and job fairs
- Implementing media advertising campaigns and other marketing materials
Start by searching through job boards and other nurse recruiting business websites to get your foot in the door as a nurse recruiter. Or reach out to as many nurse recruiter websites as you can find and ask if they are looking for new talent!
19. Medical Device or Pharmaceutical Sales
If you want to use your clinical expertise to help patients live healthier lives working in the corporate world, medical or pharmaceutical sales might be an excellent opportunity for you!
Medical device and pharmaceutical companies employ salespeople to sell medications and medical equipment to physicians, hospitals, and offices. As a salesperson, you wouldn’t work directly with patients or families. Instead, you would educate physicians, nurses, and other staff on your company’s products.
One aspect of healthcare sales that entices many nurses is that they can work in many different facilities around town. In some cases, they may even cover territories that require overnight travel. The positions require a self-starter attitude as you must hit specific sales goals every quarter.
Some medical sales companies hire nurses to work as clinical nurse specialists (CNSs). This role is great for nurses who want to educate health providers on the clinical aspects of new products and work on a team with other salespeople.
20. Utilization Review Nurse
Utilization review nurses ensure that patients receive the care they need while also preventing unnecessary or duplicate services. They work with patients, families, and healthcare staff to make sure that everyone is on the same page regarding the care plan. They also work with insurance companies to ensure coverage for the services provided.
UR nurses typically work full-time hours in hospitals, but some may also work in private practices or insurance companies, and some can even work from home.
10 More Non-Bedside Nursing Careers Recommended by the Nurse.org Community
We asked our community what careers you should go after if you're burnt out at the bedside. Here's what they recommended:
- OR nursing
- Outpatient infusions
- Community health
- Sepsis coordinator
- Outpatient care
- Clinical nurse
- Home health nurse
- Employee health nurse
- Start your own business
Follow Your Passion to Heal Beyond the Bedside
“The nursing profession is a noble one,” Bergman says. “Nurses have the privilege to serve those in the greatest need and to truly make a difference. There are many options throughout one’s nursing career. Nursing is diverse, dynamic and very fulfilling.”
Denys Cope, a 50-year veteran of the nursing profession, agrees:
“I am so impressed how the field of nursing has broadened,” she said. “Everything has changed dramatically, and there are so many different ways people are being creative in designing nursing jobs that fit their specialties and passions.”
For instance, Cope has a friend who became a certified nurse coach and now coaches other nurses on how to expand beyond their traditional nursing roles. She had another one become a counselor and an influential expert on infant mental health.
“We are using our nurse’s heart but manifesting it with other skill sets,” she says.
Following your passion and your interests can grow into an amazing career in a non–bedside setting. You could end up in helping people in ways you never imagined. You could end up working at a university, in the courtroom or on a fantasy voyage in the Caribbean. It’s all up to where your dreams take you.
FAQs About Non-Bedside Nursing Jobs
What can I do with a nursing degree besides bedside nursing?
- RNs have many options beyond the bedside, such as in informatics, leadership, education, coaching, or entrepreneurship.
Do you have to do bedside nursing?
- You can become an RN without doing bedside nursing. Many nurses may work a few years in the bedside before moving to another role, however.
What is the least stressful job in nursing?
- School nursing, educational roles, and advanced practice nurse roles all have the lowest reported levels of stress.
What to do when you don't want to be a nurse anymore?
- RNs can pivot into many different types of jobs, from sales to leadership to business.
Why do nurses leave the bedside?
- Nurses may leave the bedside for many reasons, from their own health to stress to schedules to pursuing other passions.
Next Steps in Your Non-Bedside Nursing Career
To research and discuss the different types of non-bedside nursing jobs with nurses who are already doing these jobs, check out our many nursing career guides! You can also check out open nursing positions on our job board.
You can also join the Nursing Beyond the Bedside group on LinkedIn, or look into advancing your education to meet the requirements for your transition into a non-bedside nursing position by getting your BSN, MSN, or even DNP degree.
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