Nursing is a hard job. It requires working long, hard hours, seeing tragedy and pain, and standing and walking for uncomfortable lengths of time. Perhaps worst of all, nurses do an alarming amount of work for their patients for remarkably little appreciation. It’s no wonder that hospitals around the country are experiencing nursing shortages and young nurses are changing careers in droves.
Yet, there are positives to nursing as a career. For one, the pay is improving because nurses are gaining more and more responsibilities and respect. For another, it’s undeniable that nurses make a noteworthy difference in people’s lives, and many professionals would do anything for that kind of satisfying impact. Therefore, it makes sense for nurses to be less-than-enthused by the negatives of their jobs while hesitant to abandon the positives completely.
Thankfully, because of the breadth of the health care industry and the importance of the nursing field, nurses have plenty of opportunities to change their jobs without changing their careers ― or vice versa. Here are a few options for nurses looking for a change.
There are various types of nursing degrees available, from single-year accreditations to lifelong doctoral pursuits. Each level of education nurses receive grants them additional responsibilities and opportunities for employment. Therefore, returning to school after growing tired of the workplace will allow most nurses to look for alternative nursing roles elsewhere.
Specifically, degrees like the Bachelor of Science Nursing (BSN) and advanced degrees like the Master of Science in Nursing (MSN), the Doctor of Nursing Science (DNSc), or the Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) provide skills and training that lead to different careers within health care. The BSN will provide leadership development, and the three advanced degrees immediately qualify nurses for leadership roles within health care institutions, allotting higher pay, better hours, and more authority while providing the same sense of satisfaction as typical nursing roles.
Additionally, higher education allows nurses to become nurse educators, teaching new generations of nurses about quality care practices. Nurse educators have the potential to benefit even broader numbers of patients because their students will spread far and wide, applying their teachings to millions of lives.
Leadership and teaching are just two of several opportunities afforded by increased education in the nursing field. Experienced and educated nurses might also consider working as recruiters for health care institutions, medical writers for textbooks, or salespeople for medical devices or health insurance. Because medicine is a relatively uncommon field of knowledge, many employers are eager to bring aboard workers with advanced education and experience in nursing.
Though health care institutions around the world are eager to hire general nursing staff, the ever-growing nursing shortage is even more troubled by a noticeable lack of specialized nurses. Trained in specific fields of medicine, specialized nurses can provide patients with focused care and assist doctors and other health care professionals in exclusive tasks.
Often, specialized nurses gain more autonomy and greater responsibility than the average nurse. Additionally, nurse specialists can claim higher salaries than their non-specialized peers. There are dozens of specialties to choose from, but some of the best include:
- · Gerontological nurses
- · Nurse anesthetists
- · Psychiatric nurses
- · Nurse midwifes
- · Neonatal nurses
For some nurses, it isn’t necessarily the content of the work that is exhausting; rather, it is the monotony. Though every patient is unique, the practices of donning the same color of scrubs, commuting to the same facility, and sitting in the same chair day-in and day-out can quickly become wearying. Though the work itself is rewarding enough, some nurses need a regular change in scenery to stay engaged.
Travel nursing offers this precise benefit. In periods of 13 weeks, nurses are transferred to a different city and care facility by a travel nursing agency. Locations are chosen by degree of need: Some regions are suffering more greatly due to the nursing shortage than others, so moving out-of-state nurses into needy areas allows populations to maintain higher levels of health. Though traditional nursing tasks might remain the same, the opportunity to learn about a new area ― including its culture and health needs ― is stimulating enough to keep most travel nurses absorbed by their work.