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Alternative Nursing Careers Beyond Bedside Care: What Jobs Can You Do if You Don’t Want to Work with Patients Anymore

Alternative Nursing Careers Beyond Bedside Care: What Jobs Can You Do if You Don’t Want to Work with Patients Anymore

The exciting thing about a career in nursing is that it provides a huge variety of roles and career options, which means that you’ll never get bored working in this rewarding field. 

However, if the long hours have taken their toll or if you want a change of pace and a shift in responsibilities, you might decide that the best option for you is leaving the bedside or the clinical environment and pursuing a different direction in your career. 

Luckily for you, nursing is one of the few fields out there that offers a plethora of options, equally meaningful, be it in a hospital or non-hospital setting

Career Changes for Nurses

The nursing workforce is taking on more and more roles, from traditional patient care to research, from education to forensics, or from informatics to nutrition. Career paths for nurses are more diversified than ever. Nurses who decide to change their careers often cite burnout, 12-hour shifts, and workplace incivility as the main workplace challenges they face. So, should a nurse decide they want a job that offers more stability and flexibility, then changing the setting is now more achievable than ever.  

alternative nursing careers

How to Secure an Alternative Nursing Career

There are two ways to change your nursing career and advance towards a non-bedside nursing job that still gives you plenty of satisfaction in using your nursing background: by getting a BSN or an MSN.

Nursing careers that do not involve bedside care, such as a School Nurse or Public Health Nurse, make up a big chunk of the medical field. Besides, it’s easy to switch from a clinical to a non-clinical career, as most roles require several years of experience in a healthcare environment anyway.

There are also many nursing careers without patient contact altogether, which are mostly available to experienced BSN and MSN nurses. This includes roles in government institutions, legal and insurance firms, and education.

Bear in mind that advanced positions and leadership roles often expect nurses to already have some years of clinical experience before taking an office job. Therefore, these roles are more appropriate for a BSN career change rather than as graduate jobs.

non bedside nursing careers

What Can You Do with a BSN and/or an MSN? Main Nursing Responsibilities

After earning your BSN or your MSN, a lot of nursing careers will become available to you. Compared to nurses who haven’t pursued either undergraduate or graduate programs, you’ll be able to take on more responsibility as a result of the advanced training you have received, such as:

  • More complex decision-making skills
  • Supervising other nurses and coordinating departments
  • Developing nursing care treatment plans
  • Educating patients and communities

Where Can You Find Nursing Jobs Away From the Bedside?

Here are some places to look for alternative nursing careers, along with the non-bedside nursing jobs you may find yourself taking:

  • Physician offices, if you’re looking for an administrative role with limited patient care responsibilities
  • Research laboratories, if you want to study diseases, test new medicines, and work closely with scientists, physicians, and patients
  • Nursing care facilities, hospitals, and clinics with open administrative and managerial positions
  • Pharmaceutical companies, if you are looking for patient education or sales rep roles
  • Private and public education institutions, if you want to become a nurse educator
  • State, public, and government institutions, if you’re looking for public health roles such as School Nurse, where you work to educate entire communities
  • Insurance and law firms, if you want to specialize in medical laws and assist in legal claims related to malpractice, accidents, and workers’ compensation
  • Private companies, for occupational nursing roles

Tip: You don’t have to stop working in a clinical care facility altogether even if you want to leave bedside care – there are many administrative and managerial positions that you can take up!

nursing careers insurance companies

Non-Bedside and Non-Clinical Nursing Jobs You Can Get with a BSN Degree 

Nowadays there are increased opportunities for nurses to leave traditional patient care environments and work as analysts, consultants, as well as get involved in project management, implementation, sales, and leadership roles.

In this section, we explore in more detail some of the types of nursing careers you can take up when you wish to pursue non-bedside BSN jobs.

1. Legal Nurse Consultant

You will evaluate health care and medical insurance claims, conduct medical research, and use your knowledge of both the legal and nursing fields to make recommendations and select medical expert witnesses. Legal nurse consultants assist attorneys in the litigation process, bringing to the table clinical experience and thorough medical education. 

2. Nurse Manager/Administrator

Nurse Administrators don’t need a Master’s degree, however, a Bachelor’s degree in Health Administration can put you at an advantage compared to other candidates with BSN degrees. This career, which is rather on the leadership side, entails the nurse being responsible for the operations of a whole unit, including budgeting, planning, and human resources.  Being a management role, you would take on more administrative duties, which come hand in hand with a greater deal of responsibility. 

3. Public Health Nurse 

What sets public health nurses apart is the fact that they care for communities as opposed to just individual patients. They are in charge of implementing health programs, promoting wellbeing, and educating entire populations regarding diseases, treatments, and so on. Working settings for public health nurses can be varied – from schools to non-profit agencies, or from government agencies to hospitals. 

4. Hospice Nurse 

The silver-tsunami phenomenon – baby boomers approaching old age creates a more pressing need for hospice nurses. Healthcare professionals who mostly work with terminally ill patients, they help provide medical attention and end-of-life care in home settings. As a hospice nurse, you must be well versed in meeting the patient’s medical needs and they must be experts at providing emotional support, both to the patient and to the family. Getting certified as a Hospice Palliative Nurse increases the chances of being employed in the field. 

5. Nutritionist Nurse

In this role, you have the opportunity to work in acute or primary care, assessing patient diets, and providing advice according to the patients’ medical issues. Other responsibilities can include creating wellness programs for athletes or organizations, helping people maintain or lose weight, and developing special meal plans. As a nutritionist nurse, you could work in schools, clinics, nursing homes, or you could be associated with varied organizations. 

nursing careers nutrition

Are you ready to make the career switch that would change your life? Join our

BSN Program today!

Non-Bedside and Non-Clinical Nursing Jobs You Can Get with an MSN Degree 

Getting a Master’s Degree in Nursing significantly increases your chances of securing a better paying job, as well as it widens the pool of career options from which you can choose as a healthcare specialist. Granted, MSN holders have an easier time finding jobs away from the bedside, as more opportunities emerge with the added value of this advanced degree.

2. Nurse Educator

Even though careers in education usually require a more advanced level of study, typically an MSN or above, this is still the most common career change for nurses. As the demand for healthcare specialists increases across the US, so does the demand for qualified professionals to train the new generation of nurses. This is all the more relevant now since ⅓ of the current nursing faculty workforce in baccalaureate and graduate programs is expected to retire by 2025. As the shortage of nursing educators in the US becomes more poignant, advancing your career and becoming a nurse educator is an ideal choice. You will get the combined satisfaction of providing learners with the technical skills, refined skills, as well as the depth of knowledge that are instrumental for improving the quality of patient care in the US. To help alleviate the nursing shortage, Nightingale College has added the MSNEd Program, which aims to train confident, competent, and compassionate future nurse educators.

Find out more about how to become a nurse educator.

Enroll today in our program and help shape the future of the nursing profession!

2. Nurse Researcher 

If a more academic and science-oriented career sounds more appealing to you, then becoming a nurse researcher might be the way to go. Nursing researchers are typically involved in designing and implementing scientific studies that aim to improve the quality of healthcare services. Furthermore, part of the job might involve working with other researchers and scientists to address issues from pharmacy, nutrition, medicine, or engineering

nursing jobs away from bedside

3. Informatics Nurse

Granted you have a passion for technology, you could try your hand at this up-and-coming career, which is the perfect combination of computers and clinical care. As an informatics nurse, your main responsibilities will be providing systems preparation, training, and user support. You may work directly with vendors and technical experts and work to optimize the clinical design to meet the needs of various end-users, such as doctors, nurses, pharmacy, lab, and administrative staff.

4. Clinical Nurse Leader/ Director of Nursing

Your main responsibility will be to promote the success of your organization by incorporating the latest technology and research into treatment and giving patients the best possible care. Job duties include creating treatment plans, evaluating patients’ treatment results, and coordinating the medical team.

5. Nurse Ethicist

This field is gaining more and more attention as ethical issues in the medical fields are numerous and addressing them properly is imperative. From tackling challenging decisions such as informed consent or quality of life to having tough conversations with patients or family members, nurse ethicists are becoming invaluable to the healthcare system. 

 Find out more about how an MSN could help you get the fulfilling career you’ve always dreamed about!

The Most Unusual Non-Clinical Jobs for Nurses

There are many types of alternative jobs a nursing background can open up for you. Some of the best non-bedside nursing jobs involve lots of travel, advocacy, and leadership, and will set you up for a rewarding career that’s about more than just patient care.

List of Unique Nursing Careers and Salaries*

  • Flight Nurse: $72,452 to $91,688
  • NGO Nurse: around $64,690
  • Cruise Ship Nurse: $4,200 to $4,900 a month
  • Camp Nurse: $45,640 – $92,405
  • Procurement Nurse: $46,164 – $92,954
  • Traveling Nurse: $44,564 – $106,625
  • Parish Nurse: around $69,899

non-bedside nursing career

*Salary information collected from,, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Nursing is one of the most exciting professions, thanks to the wide range of career options that allows you to take up. If you feel like it’s time to make a change, be sure you take advantage of the possibilities you have at hand with a BSN degree or an MSNEd degree. 

Are you an RN who is feeling ready to take a leap and become a BSN nurse? Take a peek at how an online RN-to-BSN course can help you secure the career you’ve always wanted!

Does the idea of shaping tomorrow’s generation of nurses sound enticing to you? Become an MSNEd nurse!

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