The word “nurse” brings a very specific picture to mind for most of us. We picture someone in scrubs working in a hospital or a clinic, helping to treat patients at the bedside and making rounds. But the skill set developed through nursing opens up entire worlds beyond that traditional environment. Nursing jobs away from the bedside are challenging, rewarding and not at all what you’d expect.
In this article, we’ll go over some non-bedside nursing jobs and what they entail. We’ll talk about the duties of those nurses, the environments in which they work, and in some cases, what they can expect to earn. If you’re looking to move your career into a more interesting phase, you might consider pursuing a non-traditional nursing career.
8 Non-bedside Nursing Jobs
From summer camp programs to the NASCAR racetrack, some surprising places need medical professionals on hand. These career options could offer more work-life stability, travel opportunities or a shot of adrenaline.
1. Cruise Ship Nurse
A nurse working in this role would help care for a cruise ship’s passengers and staff as part of the ship’s medical personnel. Depending on the size of the ship, the medical facilities could be quite state-of-the-art, rivaling an emergency room in a hospital on land. Cruise ship nurses work in the infirmary and report to the chief nurse. Working in this role requires at least two years of emergency care experience and an advanced cardiac life support (ACLS) certification. Working on a cruise ship brings these nurses into contact with people from all over the world, and of course, offers the opportunity to travel. Nursing staff on a cruise ship are divided into three distinct categories: chief nurse, nurse practitioner and staff nurse. Duties here are much the same as nursing on land, but a cruise ship nurse could accompany a patient if they must be evacuated from the ship to land. Tours of duty are six months long, with two months off afterward.
2. Camp Nurse
If you’re someone who prefers the outdoors and doesn’t like to stay in one place for very long, camp nursing could be for you. There are myriad camp organizations that employ camp nurses. There are camps for children diagnosed with cancer, adults with mental disabilities or camps that center around an activity like whitewater rafting or horseback riding. The Association of Camp Nurses (ACN) lists opportunities on their website, so you can browse through them and see which one most closely fits your background. Those with experience in emergency care or pediatrics would be well-suited, and an ability to make decisions independently is key, as camp nurses often work alone. According to PayScale, camp nurses can expect to earn between $22-$41 per hour.
3. Correctional Nurse/Prison Nurse
A nurse working in this role will often be the first person to see an inmate about a health complaint. A correctional nurse will assess the patient and determine the requirements of care the same as they would if they were working in a hospital. They conduct intake screenings, work in chronic care clinics to help inmates manage chronic conditions, keep track of medications so they aren’t misused and provide what’s known as “sick call” services. Sick call is when an inmate requests to see a nurse for a sudden issue, which can result in an appointment with a physician. This role could also offer the opportunity to become a coordinator for programs like prison hospice care, in which inmates are trained to take care of their peers during the final phase of their lives in incarceration.
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4. Clinical Nurse Educator/RN Medical Device Educator
This may be one of the more well-known non-bedside nursing careers, in which an experienced nursing professional opts to instruct others in the practices and techniques of the job. Nurse educators can work in a classroom setting in a university or nursing school, as well as in the field with nurses-in-training or with those who need a clinical education, such as people who work in insurance or public healthcare workers. Because being employed in this role often requires a bachelor’s or other advanced degree, nurse educators can train medical staff to instruct non-medical personnel in medical procedures and equipment. A very high satisfaction rate is reported with this job, and the median salary is just over $75,000 per year, according to PayScale.
5. Nurse Writer/Medical Writer
A background in or passion for writing as well as experience in healthcare can be leveraged into a career as a nurse writer. Their job is to write up training materials, manuals and educational papers for their employers. Nurse writers usually work for a healthcare provider, pharmaceutical company, medical equipment company or something in a similar vein. They must be able to research well, express specialized information in a readable manner and conduct interviews, similar to the duties of a journalist. PayScale reported that job satisfaction rates for this role are also high, and the median salary is similar to that of a nurse educator at just over $70,000 per year.
6. NASCAR Nurse
NASCAR drivers are just as much athletes as players in the NBA or NFL are, and the sport is one of the most popular in North America. When a driver has a crash, medical staff need to be on site to help. NASCAR nurses do initial assessments of the pit crew and drivers after an accident occurs, but a large part of their work is looking after the fans. This role can involve travel as well, if you’re working as an official part of the NASCAR team and following the races as they move across the country. NASCAR nurses also act as liaisons between the team and local medical staff working an event, making sure the proper equipment is on hand to handle anything from dehydration to lacerations and blunt force trauma.
7. Flight Nurse
Perhaps the most action-packed on this list of non-bedside nursing jobs, a flight nurse isn’t what you might think when reading the job title. Rather than working on an aircraft, flight nurse travel to remote locations not easily accessible to help the injured. They provide specialized, hospital-level care to their patients as they’re being airlifted to a medical facility. This can be at the scene of a major accident, between hospitals or in a remote wilderness location. Flight nurse Matt Tederman, in an interview with PBS, detailed the time he had to help a snowmobiler in the rural plains of Omaha with a neck laceration from barbed wire. Helping to bring that patient back, he says, was a reminder of why he does the job. This position requires a BSN and three to five years of experience working in the ER or intensive care unit (ICU).
8. Parish Nurse
Last on our list of non-bedside nursing jobs is the parish nurse. Parish nurses care for the members of a parish or religious congregation. They approach their work differently than the other people on this list as they integrate elements of faith into their work alongside medicine. Relatively new as nursing specialties go, it was only recognized as such in 1998. Parish nurses work mostly in churches, but you can also find them in hospitals or social service agencies, as many hospitals have chapel areas set aside for people to worship. If a hospital is faith-based, it’s more likely to employ parish nurses. The duties of a parish nurse include visiting patients, mentoring members of their religious community, acting as a patient advocate and starting support groups. Parish nurses are required to hold active RN licenses and have practiced as an RN for two years or more.
Want to Take the Next Step?
If getting outside of the hospital sounds like the next step in your career, Fairleigh Dickinson University can help you get there. Our accredited RN to BSN online program trains working nurses to deliver comprehensive care to individuals and families in all environments so that you’ll have the skills necessary to become competitive in the job market.
If you already have your BSN and are looking to advance your knowledge and care practices, consider our MSN nurse educator online program. We’ll prepare you to become an instructor in collegiate nursing programs. Through a state-of-the-art curriculum, you’ll acquire the training you need to effectively work with students, parents and patients.