Changing gears: Career options for nurses outside of patient care

20160518160000, Kathleen Ross Cruz

You do not have to be in the hospital setting to be able to use your nursing degree to its full potential. There are detour options apart from hospital practice that will put your nursing background to good use. Changing gears in your career may be scary but you owe it to yourself to do it.

“The worst thing one can do is not to try, to be aware of what one wants and not give in to it, to spend years in silent hurt wondering if something could have materialized — and never knowing,” said American Psychiatrist David Viscott.

Some of us didn’t know what we wanted while in secondary school and opted to enter nursing because of the promise of winter wonderland. Or some wanted to be a nurse but discovered midway that they are happier during literature, statistics, logic, or nursing law discussions.

Well, I didn’t really want to be a nurse. It was just the practical choice 12 years ago. I tried it out but the hospital setting really didn’t work for me or me for it. After a handful of different jobs in various industries, I realised that writing is the only thing I never get tired of.

So I ventured into freelance writing and a lot of people thought I wasted my nursing education and license just to write product reviews and contribute to magazines. They even said that writing won’t sustain me and I’ll end up like struggling artists without a roof over my head. With a little stubbornness and a lot of determination, I landed my current role in MIMS.

Now before eyebrows raise, let me tell you about the different roles where nurses can flourish without actually nursing patients.

Nurse writer

Writing is a good career for nurses because our specialised knowledge gives us an edge when entering various market segments, such as consumer health and wellness reporting (MIMS), healthcare policy writing (DOH, MOH), co-authoring health and wellness books, making patient engagement materials, and writing newsletters for healthcare institutions, among others.

Clinical research associate/analyst

Nurses can leverage their nursing experience as a research associate/analyst, gathering information, performing surveillance, evaluating data, and researching diseases, policies or technology. The understanding of patient care standards, medical conditions, hospital/public health operations, and research methodologies gives the perspective to help healthcare institutions and organisations determine the best approach to certain diseases or public policies, and to acquiring technology or services.

Nurse IT

The use of information technology (IT) is booming in the healthcare industry. It is the perfect balance between advocating for beneficial healthcare technology, the clinicians who will use that technology, and the patient outcomes. The development and use of progressive technologies maximises widely available and cost-effective technologies like phones, tablets, computers and applications to improve delivery of healthcare despite barriers. The goal is to help developers and users understand how the new technology works and benefits everyone.

Medical sales representative

A nursing background can be leveraged in a medical sales representative role. Sales reps have the opportunity to build relationships with other healthcare professionals while selling medicines or medical equipment to be used in hospitals or other healthcare settings. But in order to form networks, speaking to hospital administrators and staff is a must. The specialised knowledge gives you extra credibility because the doctors know that you understand the health benefits or implications of what you’re selling.

The days where nurses were limited to jobs in the hospital and patient care are long gone. Going off the beaten path doesn’t mean wasting your nursing education. Your nursing degree is just the first step towards pursuing one of these alternative career options. MIMS