August 10, 2022

From Bedside Nursing to Working From Home - 4 Tips To Land a Remote Nursing Job

From Bedside Nursing to Working From Home - 4 Tips To Land a Remote Nursing Job

If you told me a year ago that I would be working in a fully remote position with “normal” work hours, I would have laughed and considered it impossible. At the time, hospitals were flooded with COVID-19 patients and nurses were at the frontlines helping as many lives as possible while the “non-essentials” worked from home. In fact, there was even a Facebook filter for nurses that stated, “Sorry, I can’t stay home, I’m a nurse!” In my mind, it was unthinkable for nurses to work in any other setting.

Before working a remote nursing job, I had worked as a nurse for six years, with most of that time being spent in mental health. I loved psychiatry and even planned to be Psychiatric/Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP). However, as society started to reopen despite hospitals filling up again with sick patients (even my psych unit had COVID-19 patients), I had second thoughts about my career. 

While it had been rewarding helping those in need, I grew increasingly dissatisfied. My mental and physical health deteriorated, and my work-life balance was poor as I grew increasingly isolated outside work. I was always too tired to do anything and struggled with burnout due to tougher workloads and extra shifts to ease the worsening staff shortage. My sleep quality was very poor, and I experienced so many emotional breakdowns. I just hated what my life had become. Although I earned a lot working overtime, it was not worth it in my opinion. For the first time, I wanted to leave the bedside for good.

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36 Applications and 2 Phone Interviews Later

While pondering my next career move, the idea of working in insurance came one day after speaking with a coworker. She talked about a friend who switched careers from the bedside to a remote job for a major insurance company. After that conversation, the thought of nurses being able to have a “normal job” with “regular hours” never left me. The idea was firmly planted in my head. 

A few weeks later, after casually looking and taking a much-needed break in Puerto Rico, I began to seriously apply. At first, I thought it would be a simple process with a job offer maybe in a few weeks or a month at the most. But as I got one rejection email after another, I knew this would not be easy. I persisted and looked for jobs every single day; some nights I’d even stay up until 3 am filling job applications.

By the end, I submitted 36 applications. Of the 36, I had two phone interviews. One went so poorly because I lacked experience in insurance that it ended within one minute. I felt hopeless and even contemplated travel nursing to get a change.

However, one day at work, I got a voicemail from a company that I had applied to. I thought it was odd because I was already denied this position but decided to apply again anyway. Very quickly I called back and had an interview scheduled. The interview with my future managers exceeded my expectations despite my newness to the field with a formal job offer coming a week later. 

Nearly four months, dozens of rejected applications, and sleepless nights later, I finally landed the job I wanted. After six years at the bedside, I hung up my stethoscope. 

A Career in Utilization Management

Now, I work a completely remote job in utilization management by performing clinical reviews of prior authorization requests from clinics and hospitals. In fact, jobs like this for nurses are scarce, but it is a rapidly growing field of nursing. According to the Journal of Nursing Regulation, 2.5% of registered nurses worked in utilization management in 2020, nearly doubling since 2013 at an initial 1.4%.

Though it often gets mundane and repetitive, I love the flexibility, regular work schedule, and the feeling that I can live my life again. My family and friends even noted big changes in my demeanor, specifically that I seemed happier and more rested than before. Leaving the bedside also allowed me more time to spend with them. Though it was a difficult process and frustrating at times, I have no regrets about leaving the bedside. I even hope one day to go into a corporate role in utilization management.

Here are some of my top tips for pursuing alternate, non-traditional nursing jobs.

1. Set realistic expectations.

 Some large insurance companies, especially for nationwide remote positions, often get hundreds of applications, and, from personal experience, it can take many weeks or even months to get a response back. Unless you’re highly experienced in this field already or have many years of nursing experience, expect frustration and disappointing denial emails. 

2. Regularly check for job listings.

Check for open positions daily. Set alerts. Use google to search for positions online through job-specific websites or check your Linkedin daily for job alerts or offers (if you don’t have this already, then get it now).

3. Obtain your BSN.

At the time that I applied, I only had an associate degree in nursing (ADN). Many of the job postings specifically wanted or “highly preferred” BSN nurses. Unless you have a decade or more of nursing experience, you’ll most likely fall low on the totem pole of other nurses applying.

4. Be persistent.

It’ll likely be a long process to find a job unless you’re part of the lucky few that get it fairly quickly. If you invest time and effort in pursuit of this, you will eventually land the role that you want. But, in the meantime, always look for opportunities in your hospitals to explore non-traditional nursing roles like case management, utilization review, or informatics. As you build more experience to add to your nursing portfolio, you’ll look more appealing to potential employers.

My nursing career has taken a wild turn in the past year that has been completely life-changing. Though no job is perfect, this has been the role of a lifetime, a rare opportunity for nurses to have remote, corporate jobs with regular hours and virtually no weekends or holidays to work anymore.