There are many jobs for nurses outside the hospital setting, some working with patients and some that are non-clinical in nature.
This blog will explore several locations where you might find fulfilling nursing jobs that aren’t in a hospital. You may be surprised to learn just how diverse the options can be for a registered nurse (RN).
Statistics for Non-Hospital RN Jobs
The statistics show that there are plenty of non-hospital jobs for nurses. In 2021, there were 3.1 million registered nursing jobs in the United States. According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, 60% of registered nurses are employed in hospital settings, including state, local and private hospitals. This means that approximately 40% of RNs are employed in nursing jobs not in hospital settings.
The Occupational Outlook Handbook further breaks down these statistics to detail the number of registered nurses employed in other common practice types. The percentage of registered nurses working in these non-hospital RN jobs is as follows:
- 18% of registered nurses are employed in ambulatory care settings
- 6% of registered nurses are employed in nursing homes and facilities providing residential care
- 6% of registered nurses are employed within the government sector of health care
- 3% of registered nurses are employed in educational settings
There are many opportunities for those with a second degree in nursing who want to work in non-hospital RN jobs. If you hold a bachelor’s degree in another field besides nursing and are considering a change, a second-degree Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) or Master’s Entry in Nursing Practice (MENP) program will allow you to become an RN.
Some nursing employment opportunities are open to qualified applicants with a BSN, while additional options may become available with the completion of graduate-level education. Teaching, for example, is one occupation that requires a master’s or doctoral degree. Read here for five jobs you can get with a Master’s degree in nursing.
Work setting is important to consider when deciding on a career pathway. Finding an employment option that fits well with your personality and life goals can be fulfilling.
For example, you may be a person who works best with large amounts of autonomy and in relatively quiet environments. Alternatively, you may be interested in a fast-paced position with plenty of human interaction. Both types of these employment options exist for nurses and many others, each with unique characteristics.
7 Non-Hospital Jobs for Nurses
For those who specifically prefer non-hospital work, the career options are plentiful. Read on to learn several examples of jobs for nurses outside the hospital.
1. School Nurse
A school nurse has various responsibilities, including conducting health assessments, triage of acute illness, administration of medications, maintaining compliance records, completing health screenings, and providing health promotion and health education activities. School nurse positions are available to serve elementary school children and pre-kindergarten as well as junior and senior high. There are also opportunities within colleges and universities for nurses to work in student health locations.
2. Hospice Nurse
Hospice nurses coordinate palliative care for patients and their families at the end of life. A hospice nurse communicates regularly with an interdisciplinary team that may include social workers, chaplains, home health aides, nurse practitioners and medical directors. Hospice nurses provide physical and psychological comfort to patients in their homes or in a standalone hospice, which may include residential and nursing facilities and assisted living communities.
3. Ambulatory Care Nurse
Doctor’s offices and primary care clinics employ the second largest number of nurses after hospital settings. The ambulatory care nurse will assist in preparing and assessing patients for outpatient care. There are opportunities to choose a nursing specialty within this practice location, as ambulatory care nurses can work in orthopedic surgery centers, cardiology offices, pediatric offices and other outpatient specialty care clinics.
4. Registered Nurse Health Coach
Health coaching expands on the techniques of motivational interviewing learned in nursing school and offers an opportunity for registered nurses to help clients set and reach health-related goals. While not all health coaches are registered nurses, the added nursing credentials allow the RN health coach to provide the next level of coaching coupled with patient education and advocacy.
The RN health coach may be an excellent choice to pursue if you are passionate about health and wellness. The Board of Medical Examiners has partnered with the National Board of Health and Wellness Coaches to offer a complete board certification examination and credential for health and wellness coaches.
5. Informatics Nurse
The applications of technology in health care continue to evolve and grow. An informatics nurse has the training of a nurse with the understanding of information technology to help generate meaningful and usable processes for tracking and documenting health-related content. Certification and continuing education classes are available for nurses desiring to specialize in nursing informatics.
Informatics nurses can help students and faculty electronically enter health records, clinical notes, evaluations and a myriad of other data pieces. The informatics nurse not only aids in training end users of a technology system but plays an essential role in helping organizations and agencies maintain databases showing compliance with rules and regulations for quality care and education.
While some informatics nurses work in hospitals, they are also employed in other non-hospital settings, including academics. Informatics is a specialized field including the design and deployment of technology systems that manage the storage and flow of information throughout health care. Many informatics positions require a master’s degree.
6. Legal Nurse Consultant
Some nurses work on legal cases requiring research and documentation related to medical or health conditions. Legal nurse consultants use their nursing knowledge and practice experience to help make recommendations that can inform the outcomes of legal proceedings or insurance claims.
A closely-related occupation to the legal nurse consultant is that of a forensic nurse examiner. The forensic nurse examiner may also inform the court and legal matters by collecting health-related information from crime scenes. Forensic nursing often requires certification and a master’s degree.
Both of these non-hospital nursing roles allow nurses the potential to be strong advocates for patients with mental illness, victims of violence or sexual abuse and other vulnerable populations.
7. Public Health Nurse
Many nursing jobs focus on the health of individuals and families, perhaps focusing on specific populations such as the military, those in correctional facilities or even rehabilitation. Public health is distinct in that the focus is on the health of communities as a whole. Those passionate about visualizing, developing and implementing programs to address health disparities and improve our nation's health are excellent candidates for public health nursing. Nonprofit organizations and community centers are just two of the many locations where public health nurses may be employed.
Nursing as a Second Career
A second-degree nursing career typically involves the completion of an accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) program where the prerequisite of your bachelor’s degree in another field is the starting point for attaining your bachelor’s degree in nursing.
However, if you are interested in pursuing some of these non-hospital jobs for nurses, leadership skills and continued focus on quality care improvement are competencies that are further honed in graduate education programs. To attain graduate-level education, you might consider enrolling in a Master’s Entry in Nursing Practice (MENP) program as the next step to achieving your goal. Selecting a quality nursing program from the available options can be a difficult choice; Here are some tips for choosing the right nursing program for you.
An initial nursing education program is foundational to making nursing a second career. An ABSN or MENP program is a focused program of study inclusive of clinical hours that prepares graduates to take and pass the NCLEX practice exam. This examination is required to become a licensed RN. Read more here on five reasons to pursue nursing as a second career.
Consider Elmhurst University for Completing Your MENP Program
Elmhurst University offers an Online Master’s Entry in Nursing Program for those looking to change to nursing as a second career. The program is unique and has been designed specifically for those with a bachelor’s degree in another field looking to become registered nurses.
Graduates of the Elmhurst University MENP program earn a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree and the qualifications required to enter a new role caring for patients and communities. The program prepares you to sit for the NCLEX-RN examination and Clinical Nurse Leader (CNL) certification. For more information on how you can complete your Direct-Entry MSN with Elmhurst University, visit the program registration page for more details on how to register.