When most people think about nurses, they picture them working in a hospital. This is not inaccurate: nurses are the lifeblood of every major hospital, taking care of patients, and performing both administrative tasks and specialized healthcare roles. Without them, such institutions would immediately grind to a standstill.
However, hospitals aren’t the only settings where nurses work. You can find nurses employed in a huge variety of roles and locations, from community clinics to cruise ships. Anywhere that people might need medical attention, or where there’s a call for professionals with medical knowledge and experience, there’s an employment opportunity for a nurse.
Once you’ve qualified as a nurse – for instance, via Baylor University’s distance accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) program – there is a wide variety of options open to you. Not all nurses work at the bedside, and you can take further courses to specialize as an advanced nurse practitioner and gain access to even more possibilities. If you’ve ever wondered about a career in nursing and want to know what possibilities could be open to you, then read on.
Outpatient primary care nurse
Working in a clinic or health center is similar to working in a hospital, in that you’ll be taking care of patients, dispensing medication and administering treatment as part of a team of dedicated healthcare professionals. However, because you’re seeing walk-in patients from a particular community, you’re more likely to get to know them for a longer period of time as they keep coming back, often over the course of a lifetime. Outpatient care is generally less stressful than emergency or intensive care, and you’ll get to keep regular working hours.
If you love working with children, then school nursing could be for you. You’ll spend most of your time dealing with minor injuries and occasionally more serious ones. You’ll also be expected to give health advice and oversee vaccination programs. For older children, you’ll need to manage concerns around sexual health and substance use. Working in a high school setting means that you’ll get to work the same term-time hours as the teachers and will get long summer vacations.
Summer camps, church camps and other organized camping events need to have medical professionals, including nurses, present to look after their guests. You’ll treat injuries, help guests manage existing health conditions or illnesses, maintain and dispense medication, and give advice on staying fit and healthy while out in the wild.
As one of many roles in the field of healthcare, being a camp nurse can be combined with other nursing positions. Because of its seasonal nature, and the fact that you’ll mostly be working with young people and families, this is a great job to combine with that of a school nurse, giving you something to do during the summer vacation.
As a nurse educator or nurse lecturer, you’ll work in a university setting, at a nursing school, or in a classroom or lecture hall. You’ll need a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) and good written and oral communication skills. Preparing and delivering classes and lectures, giving one-to-one guidance, reviewing work, and interacting with students will all be part of your day-to-day routine. Many nurses cite an inspiring teacher who instilled in them the passion and knowledge that sustained them throughout their career. All nurses make a difference, but arguably nurse educators have the most widespread influence.
It stands to reason that the armed forces need nurses, both on military bases and in the field. In return for your service, the US military will pay off your school loan, making work as a military nurse a very enticing prospect. You’ll get to travel, have a wide range of experiences, and serve your country at the same time. Whether you’re working for the army, navy or air force, being a military nurse is an exciting and varied role that can take you to many different locations.
Home health nurse
You could continue your nursing career in patients’ private homes as a home health nurse or professional caregiver. You may work exclusively for one patient at a time, or have a list of clients to check in on each day or week. Elderly people and those with chronic health conditions are the most common users of home health nurses. Often, your patient will be housebound, and you’ll be providing practical assistance and companionship as well as medical care.
Cruise ship nurse
If you’ve got strong sea legs and like to travel in style, then cruise ship nurse could be your ideal job. Large cruise ships are away from port for days, weeks or even months on end, and are floating communities with their own on-board medical services. Often, the passengers are elderly retirees, making it even more important that their health is continually monitored and looked after. Some may have existing chronic conditions, while others may fall ill or get accidentally injured during the cruise. As a nurse, you’ll provide vital support while working hard and seeing the world.
Legal nurse consultant
Put your knowledge and experience to work in a law office or the headquarters of an insurance company or business firm. Lawsuits involving injury, illness or claims of medical malpractice are increasingly commonplace, and companies need nurses available to help assess the validity of these claims. As a legal nurse consultant, you’ll try to make sure that the verdicts are fair and consistent with medical facts.
Care home nurse
Working in a care home for the elderly or seriously disabled is an extremely rewarding nursing role. You’ll get to know your patients well, becoming part of their everyday lives as you help them with basic requirements, as well as looking out for more serious problems. Being a care home nurse can feel like being part of a family, as you’ll work as part of a close-knit team, often sleeping over on long shifts.
These are just a few of the options open to qualified nurses. One of the great advantages of being a nurse practitioner is that you don’t have to commit to working in just one setting for the whole of your career. The more experience you gain, the more doors open for you. Nursing isn’t just one of the most rewarding careers available, but it’s also one of the most varied.