Of all the things that make a career in nursing so fantastic – the flexibility, the people, the constant learning – it's the incredible variety of nursing opportunities that make the profession so appealing.
If you take 50 professionals with a nursing background and education, their paths will likely be radically different from each other. That's because the skills learned during nursing studies are so easily transferred to other nursing careers and are needed in so many industries. Clinical and nonclinical opportunities are available in a variety of settings – you just have to think outside the box to find your best match.
If you are feeling stuck in your current nursing role, consider all the different paths your career can take you as a nurse. You might be surprised that a field you have always been intrigued by is looking for someone with the skills and experience you already have. You could go in the direction of a specialty you have always wanted to pursue, possibly labor and delivery, dermatology, pediatrics, or oncology. Or you might want to step back from patient care for a while and see what changes you can make in an organization.
So what can a new nursing career look like? A nurse can be many things, starting with the traditionally depicted role of a nurse caring for patients in a health care setting like a hospital or a physician's office. A nurse can also hold a corporate-level position or a government leadership role that shapes policy for nurses everywhere. Nurses can train international students to help them become successful nurses in this country or in other countries. Nurses also serve in the military or travel the world filling in where they are needed.
If you are considering making a move within the nursing profession, you might need to boost your skills with some additional training. If you have only a general idea of what you kind of change would be best for you, think of any skills you have right now that are especially strong.
If you are great at sharing your knowledge and a bit of a learning junkie, teaching at a university might be your next career move. Likewise, if you are trying to find hours that will fit the needs of your family, a school nurse position gives you that flexibility. A triage nurse role might offer you the flexibility as well while still allowing you that patient connection.
If you have always relished the role of organizer and promotion of all things nursing, consider a career move into administration in a professional nursing organization that can use both your nursing knowledge and your public relations/customer service know how. Nursing recruiters know what makes a good candidate for a certain nursing opportunity and this kind of job path allows you to assist organizations to find the right match. Legal nurse consultants can offer their technical knowledge where needed and if you have great communication skills, you can use those to write and submit articles for publication (or you can start your own blog!).
Are you looking more for a position that will help you delve into the scientifics of nursing and health care? A researcher role can take many shapes – from hands-on lab research to more clinical research involving working with patients in various settings.
Whatever role you investigate, you're likely to find something new to reinvigorate your career.