10 Alternative Careers for Registered Nurses

Alternative nursing careers for registered nurses such as flight nurse, travel nurse, school nurse or forensic nurse are within reach after earning a BSN. Through the ABSN program at University of St. Thomas, you could be well on your way to gaining the experience you need for these exciting positions.

woman wearing red scrubs standing outside

With a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) from the University of St. Thomas Houston, you’re taking the first step toward an exciting career full of multiple opportunities and unique pathways. While working in a traditional hospital setting as a registered nurse is one of the most common options you can pursue, you can also choose from a host of alternative nursing careers that are perfectly suited to your specific interests.

The Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) program at UST empowers you to earn your BSN in as few as 12 months — meaning you can earn your degree and begin working in one of the exciting careers discussed below much sooner than if you enroll in a traditional BSN program.

It's important to note that some of the positions highlighted below may require a year or two of experience working as a registered nurse (RN) before you’ll be eligible to apply. Additionally, some specialized positions may require an extra certification to ensure the best patient outcomes. If you’re ready to explore the variety of positions available to future RNs like you, here are 10 alternative careers for registered nurses to consider:

1. Flight Nurse

Flight nurses provide critical care aboard helicopters and airplanes. After an accident or medical emergency, these nurses provide care for a variety of patients as they are evacuated for treatment. These nurses care for their patients from takeoff all the way to landing, keeping them stable, safe and comfortable throughout the journey.

2. Nurse Researcher

A career as a nurse researcher may be ideal for you if you like to gather information and perform research for labs, universities or businesses instead of making rounds at hospitals. As a nurse researcher, you would spend your days researching illnesses, cures and preventative measures as well as collecting, organizing and presenting data.

Nurse researchers who pursue additional degrees may even write books, instruct courses, provide consulting services and give presentations as subject matter experts (SMEs).

3. Forensic Nurse

In general, forensic nurses show compassion and provide empathy to victims of violent crimes. Additionally, these nurses gather medical evidence for judicial cases. A forensic nurse is a professional with a wide range of abilities including public speaking (forensic nurses frequently testify in court), trauma treatment and precise attention to detail. These nurses may work in hospitals, prisons or other clinical settings.

4. Camp Nurse

If you love working with children, this is the ideal job for you. In fact, during the summer months when school is out, many school nurses work as camp nurses.

When working at an overnight camp, camp nurses may always need to remain on campus because they are typically on call at all times at the camps where they are working. . They treat campers and staff members and offer first aid as needed.

5. Medical Journalist

Medical journalists use their expertise to write about topics within the medical arena, to provide commentary on current healthcare concerns or to publish columns offering advice or a nursing perspective. Medical journalists frequently work for universities or medical journals; however, contributing or working as a freelancer writer are equally viable options.

person sitting down with a laptop and writing in journal

6. Health Coach

If you want to start your own business or work within an established business, a position as a health coach might be right for you. Nurses in this role work with people who want to reach their personal health goals. These nurses can also lead classes or workshops that help their clients set achievable step-by-step health goals. They can work in gyms, for corporations or out of their own private offices.

7. Nurse Lobbyist

Nurse lobbyists usually work within different sectors of the government and strive to influence legislation with their specialized input. These nurses seek to strengthen legislation governing healthcare, patient rights and other relevant healthcare-related concerns to ensure new laws serve patients’ best interests.

Nurse putting her hand on patient's shoulder

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8. Public Health Nurse

Public health nurses work with communities to meet healthcare needs. They can assist community organizations, nonprofits, schools, universities and many other groups. Preventive care programs and accessible healthcare for underserved groups are two major focuses of this career. While RNs are prepared with the expertise needed to become public health nurses, a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) is typically encouraged for nurses who aspire to flourish within this career path.

9. Travel Nurse

After you’ve worked for one or more years in a hospital or healthcare facility as an RN, you will be eligible to become a travel nurse. Travel nurses can apply to positions in any location they desire. Typically, their role includes assisting hospitals with nursing shortages or providing support in a needed area of expertise to a hospital.

nurse standing on side of road

10. Nurse Midwife

Nurse midwives support and guide mothers through labor and their babies’ deliveries. They can also provide postpartum care. These nurses are prepared to treat pregnant patients, to offer prenatal care, to guide patients through childbirth and to assist with postpartum recovery.

Specialization: Nurse midwives must hold an RN license and a BSN as well as a master’s or doctorate degree in nursing, depending on their level and employer. They must also earn the Certified Nurse Midwife credential administered by the American Midwifery Certification Board.

Start Today

If you are thinking about changing your career to become a nurse, the University of St. Thomas Houston is here to help you achieve your goal quickly. Through our ABSN program, you can earn your Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree in as little as 12 months.

Contact us today to speak to an admissions advisor who can help you start your application immediately. With three start dates each year in January, May and August; you won’t have to wait long to begin!