Many caring people with a passion for health care are called to the nursing profession, but not all of them are drawn to traditional nursing. Often, prospective nurses seek alternative ways to deliver patient care beyond the typical bedside nursing role.
Opportunities for non-bedside nursing roles abound. The best way to prepare for them is to enroll in a graduate program, such as an online Master of Science in Nursing. Formal education can prepare nurses to excel in a range of rewarding nursing roles in a range of traditional and nontraditional settings.
1. Flight Nurse
For individuals interested in finding a nursing role beyond the hospital setting, the sky’s the limit. That’s literally true with the flight nurse role.
Essentially, flight nurses provide care for patients who get injured, fall ill, or face a medical emergency while on a flight or while being transported to a flight. For nurses who enjoy a fast-paced setting and wish to combine nursing with travel, this position may be an ideal fit.
Flight Nurse Duties
The basic responsibilities associated with this role include:
- Evaluating and treating patients, both before and during transport
- Ensuring patient safety midflight
- Administering life support care as needed
- Administering first aid
- Monitoring and documenting the conditions of emergency patients
- Advising patients on follow-up treatment after disembarking
Becoming a Flight Nurse
To become a flight nurse, candidates need to earn a nursing degree and then their registered nurse (RN) license. They then need to become a certified flight registered nurse (CLRN) through advanced training in basic life support and cardiovascular life support.
Flight Nurse Salary Range
Knowing what salary to expect of this non-bedside nursing role is helpful. Flight nurses earn a median annual salary of $88,950, according to Salary.com. Nurses in the bottom 10% of the salary range may make closer to $69,846, while nurses in the top 10% may make $109,896.
2. School Nurse
Another way to administer nursing care in a non-bedside setting is to become a school nurse. School nurses deliver patient care to students and faculty members in a school district or, in some cases, on a specific campus.
School Nurse Duties
Common school nurse responsibilities include:
- Implementing and evaluating student care
- Assessing the condition of students who exhibit or report specific symptoms
- Counseling school administration whether students require additional care or simply need to be sent home for the day
- Providing first aid to students or teachers who suffer minor injuries while at school
- Promoting health and wellness throughout the school setting
Becoming a School Nurse
Becoming a school nurse requires earning a minimum of an associate degree in nursing. These degree programs typically take about two years to complete. Some schools require nurses to have a couple of years of experience, but many school nurse jobs are open to candidates who have just graduated from nursing school and do not yet have much experience, making this a good entry-level nursing role.
School Nurse Salary Range
What is the typical salary range for a school nurse? Salary.com notes that the median annual school nurse salary is $52,696. In the top 10%, the salary is closer to $79,024.
3. Nutrition Nurse
Another non-bedside nursing role to consider is nutrition nurse. Nutrition nurses oversee a patient’s nutritional intake and advise them about nutrition plans.
Nutrition Nurse Duties
Specific duties and responsibilities associated with this role include:
- Overseeing and directing all nutritional guidelines for an organization or institution
- Supervising the implementation of basic nutrition plans, including individualized meal plans
- Monitoring patients’ nutritional intake
- Overseeing menu planning and food service operations to ensure they meet nutritional standards
Becoming a Nutrition Nurse
Preparation to become a nutrition nurse involves a few steps. The first step is earning a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN), which usually takes four years. Aspiring nutrition nurses must also earn either registered dietician (RD) or registered dietician nursing (RDN) certification.
Nutrition Nurse Salary Range
Salaries for nutrition nurses vary widely depending on employer and role. The median annual salary for a nutrition director is $102,127, according to Salary.com. At the bottom end of the spectrum, the anticipated salary may be closer to $79,217. At the upper end, the anticipated salary is around $126,565.
Depending on their level of experience, nutrition nurses may earn more money and assume senior leadership roles, such as overseeing nutrition initiatives for a department or organization. This is a role with ample opportunity to advance and grow.
4. Nurse Educator
For people who are passionate about nursing but also love education and want to make a broad impact on nursing cultures and institutions, the nurse educator role is well worth considering. Nurse educators are tasked with the instruction, development, and supervision of nursing personnel through formalized training, coaching, and counseling, especially in regard to clinical practice and organization.
In addition, these professionals are educational leaders in health care settings, responsible for developing curricula, teaching, and fine-tuning health care practices and processes to remain in compliance and adjust to developments in the wider nursing sphere.
Nurse Educator Duties
Nurse educators have a number of important responsibilities, including:
- Serving as faculty members or as trainers in a teaching hospital or a nursing school
- Participating in the development, review, and revision of nursing curricula
- Delivering hands-on training and professional development to nurses and nursing students
- Coaching and counseling students who are struggling with particular concepts
- Advising health care organizations on how to better support nursing and nursing students
Becoming a Nurse Educator
To become a nurse educator, having an advanced nursing degree is crucial. This usually means a minimum of an MSN, though aspiring nurse educators are strongly encouraged to earn a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) or certification for an advanced practice nursing role, such as nurse practitioner.
Nurse Educator Salary Range
What salary should nurse educators expect? The average nurse educator salary is around $102,868, according to Salary.com, but the salary range can fall between $85,943 and $114,783. Salary can vary depending on years of experience and education level.
5. Nurse Researcher
For individuals who prefer a behind-the-scenes role supporting nursing staff rather than providing bedside care, the nurse researcher position is worth exploring. Individuals in this role focus on developing practices and policies to improve the overall health care delivered by nursing staff.
Nurse Researcher Duties
Primary responsibilities associated with this position include:
- Evaluating, implementing, and documenting clinical research, often involving human participants
- Recruiting research participants and briefing them on what to expect
- Ensuring ethics and transparency guidelines are adhered to throughout the research process
- Reporting research findings
Becoming a Nurse Researcher
To become a nurse researcher, candidates need a nursing degree (either a BSN or an MSN) and a registered nursing license (RN). For some research roles, having certification or specific experience in the field of study may be necessary; for example, if the research involves psychiatric or mental health conditions, formal training in mental health care may be a requirement.
Nurse Researcher Salary Range
The median annual salary for this position is $87,956, according to Salary.com. Those who fall in the bottom 10% may earn a salary closer to $70,029. At the top 10%, the salary expectation should be closer to $105,889.
The nurse researcher salary range can vary greatly depending on a number of factors. Researchers with higher levels of academic training, or with more years of experience, will likely earn higher salaries. Salary expectations can also vary depending on the geographic area and the size of the institution.
6. Informatics Nurse
Another option for non-bedside nursing is informatics nurse. These highly specialized nurses are responsible for determining which informational systems are best for projects and patient care initiatives. They also assess which software and vendors are most effective for their organizations.
Informatics Nurse Duties
According to Salary.com, the primary responsibilities of an informatics nurse encompass:
- Evaluating the IT, data collection, and informatics needs of their organization
- Collaborating with the IT department to vet potential software vendors and to coordinate software purchases and installations
- Training other nurses and providers on how to use software and other technology to assist with patient care, record collection, and more
- Overseeing policies for maintaining data safety and confidentiality
- Providing tech training to the end user
Becoming an Informatics Nurse
Becoming an informatics nurse requires a bachelor’s degree in nursing and status as a registered nurse (RN) in the state of practice. Additionally, informatics nurses may need training or certification in fields related to health information technology (IT), though these requirements can vary from one institution to the next.
Informatics Nurse Salary Range
As for salary expectations, Salary.com notes that the median annual salary for an informatics nurse is around $92,890. At the higher end of the spectrum, nurses in this position earn salaries of about $116,962. In this role, nurses in the bottom 10% may earn salaries of about $71,875.
Education and experience matter a great deal in this career path. Candidates who have higher levels of formal training and additional years of experience will typically command a higher salary range. Geographic area can also be a factor in determining salary expectations.
7. Nurse Ethicist
For nurses interested in navigating the complicated moral and legal questions surrounding health care, working as a nurse ethicist may be highly rewarding. These professionals are responsible for educating and guiding patients, their families, and health care staff on clinically significant ethical, legal, and policy issues that may arise between health care providers and patients.
Nurse Ethicist Duties
Primary responsibilities of this position include:
- Guiding and advising institutional ethics committees on policy formation
- Participating in case review activities and identifying areas for policy improvements
- Educating nurses on the moral or legal aspects of their work
- Talking with patients and family members who face difficult decisions about treatment, such as resuscitation or removal from life support
Becoming a Nurse Ethicist
To become a nurse ethicist, candidates should have a formal degree in nursing (preferably an advanced degree), as well as four to seven years of experience working in a clinical setting.
Nurse Ethicist Salary Range
What are the salary expectations for nurse ethicists? The median annual salary for the nurse ethicist role is $103,158, according to Salary.com. However, the salary range spans from $83,950 at the low end to $129,525 at the high end.
8. Nurse Manager
A final non-bedside nursing role to consider is nurse manager. For professionals passionate about nursing who also see themselves as natural leaders, this influential role can be satisfying and rewarding.
Nurse Manager Duties
Nurse managers may lead a team of nurses within a specific hospital department (for example, operating room nurses or oncology department nurses), or they may oversee the nurses at a private practice or clinic. Some of the core nurse manager duties include:
- Delegating responsibilities to staff nurses
- Scheduling nurses to ensure full coverage of patient-care needs
- Providing coaching or professional development opportunities to staff nurses
- Managing nurse performance and ensuring compliance with all policies
- Ensuring necessary mediations and supplies are in stock
Becoming a Nurse Manager
The requirements to become a nurse manager can vary from one institution to the next, but they always include being an RN and having at least a few years of clinical experience, as well as supervisory experience. Many organizations require that their nurse managers have an advanced degree, such as an MSN.
Nurse Manager Salary Range
The median annual salary for this role is $111,800, according to Salary.com. The range spans $84,672 to $149,436. Nurses with additional years of supervisory experience or with advanced education may qualify for higher salaries. The type of organization can play a big role in determining salary.
An Essential Degree for Multiple Careers Away From the Bedside
Nurses make a positive impact on patient care in countless ways, in traditional bedside roles and through non-bedside nursing. No matter the career path, a great way to prepare is through pursuing a graduate degree in the field.
Hawai‘i Pacific University’s highly regarded online Master of Science in Nursing program offers the opportunity to cultivate the skills necessary for success in a wide range of nursing roles. Learn more about the options available for career advancement in the field of nursing.
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Salary.com, Health Informatics Nurse Specialist
Salary.com, Nutrition Director