The role of the nurse today might be more varied and specialized than ever in history. Nurses are everywhere, and they perform many functions outside of hospitals and clinics. Some jobs don’t even require them to see patients at all. How about that? There are lots of unconventional nursing jobs out there waiting for you.
We believe it’s great that the profession is so diverse. It shows that nurses are much more important than what some people initially think. We wrote this article to highlight some of the weird, yet interesting career moves that you can make as a nurse, and who knows? Maybe you’ll find that one of them catches your eye.
1. Nurse auditor
Let’s begin with something that’s not so weird, but quite unknown for a lot of people. The job of the nurse auditor is mostly done in the background, where things like documentation, finance and insurance live. You would be tasked with auditing patient and hospital records to determine that everything is fine in those regards.
Nurse auditors also give financial advice to clinics, and other types of healthcare businesses to help them thrive. You would need to know how to cut costs, increase profits, and keep everything running smoothly.
What do you need to become a nurse auditor? Well, aside from your RN certification, the requirements might be a little confusing at first. Some sites say that you need to do some additional study in finance, insurance, or auditing itself, while some others will tell you that you just need the experience.
The job of the Nurse Auditor also ties in with that of the nosologist, or medical records technician, which is also another curious medical profession. Want to learn more? You should get in touch with the AAPC, which issues certifications for auditors and coders in healthcare environments.
2. Forensic nurse
This one is not really one of the most unconventional nursing jobs out there, but it is more unusual and interesting than people think. And no, the job doesn’t really have to do with examining corpses. Forensic nurses collect evidence and give testimony to help victims of violent crime.
An autopsy nurse is, indeed, a type of forensic nurse. But that’s just one field. Forensic nurses can specialize further to work with victims of sexual assault, domestic violence, and child abuse, to name a few.
Also, forensic nurses don’t just work in hospitals, they can work in places ranging from correctional facilities to insurance companies. You’ll find a lot of variety if you choose to go this way.
Head over to the International Association of Forensic Nurses to learn more about what the job entails, and how you can become one. You’ll need to get a separate certification, but there are programs out there that can help you with that.
3. Nursing informaticist
If you liked when we mentioned coding a few lines back, this might be the job for you. Pays well too! A Nurse informaticist implements IT solutions for a hospital or clinic, analyzing data to see how they can improve patients outcomes with technology. They also help facilities cut costs and increase the efficiency of treatment.
How do they do this? Well, they help implement new IT developments, train staff on how to use them, and analyze how effective they are. Nurses working in the field of informatics help bridge the gap between healthcare and technical advancements. Thanks to their work, hospitals and clinics can stay updated to provide the best care they can to their patients.
They might not make the news a lot, but their position is very important. There’s still a lot of work to be done with electronic medical records and areas like telehealth. This job is very on-demand, and 46% of nurses in the field report having a six-figure salary, according to this survey on Nursing Informatics.
You should really look into this if you like IT. Start by getting this book.
4. Cruise ship nurse
Okay, now we’re getting a little into the more unconventional nursing jobs. We’re sure that treating patients aboard a huge ship while they’re on vacation (and you’re not) was not the first thing you dreamed of when you went to nursing school.
However, let’s examine this role. One of the good things about it is that you don’t have to get any specific certification aside from your BSN. You only need experience. That gets you a chance to travel the world and treat patients for mostly minor injuries (but a heck of a lot of sea sickness).
If you don’t get seasick yourself, being a cruise ship nurse might be the perfect change of scenery for you. We have to admit that the pay is not great. You’ll get free meals, though!
5. Flight nurse
These healthcare professionals, also known as transport nurses, make their living by ensuring that patients stay alive while in the air. Flight nurses don’t work on commercial airlines, they ride helicopters.
This job might be one of the most challenging on this list, and with good reason. You will mostly see emergencies, and you’ll have to work with very limited resources if something goes wrong.
Aside from that, you might have to learn a thing or two about the aircraft itself. Flight Nurses also get involved with this part of the job in order to provide the best level of care before, during, and after the flight.
You can become a flight nurse in three easy steps. First, get your BSN. Second, you should primarily have experience working in the ER, or in an ICU setting. Recent sources say that you would require at least 5 years of combined experience in both.
After that you have to become a Certified Flight Registered Nurse (CFRN). Here’s an useful resource on that from the Board of Certification for Emergency Nursing (BCEN).
6. Oil rig nurse
This job might be number six, but it is definitely number one on the list of unconventional nursing jobs. I mean, how many oil rig nurses do you know? If you look hard enough you might find enough flight and cruise ship nurses. But an oil rig? They’re on another level.
A nurse working offshore, on an oil rig, will have to provide 24-hour care for the different injuries and emergencies that oil workers have on the job. They will have to work long hours in an environment that might get a little claustrophobic. I mean, cruise ship nurses get to leave the boat, at least.
If you’re a person who handles stress well, and you’re looking for quite the adventure, you might enjoy trying your hand at this job. You will work independently and you’ll need to make lots of decisions quickly, but you will have a more flexible schedule, such as working 2 weeks at a time with 3 weeks off. Also, the pay is apparently very good!
7. Nurse navigator
People don’t talk very often about nurse navigators, but they provide a very important service. Their job is to help patients to literally “navigate” the process of receiving treatment.
For example, a nurse navigator might help a patient with cancer to ease their way through their diagnosis and the options they have. They are educators and guides, and they help people make better decisions.
You will find that most nurse navigators work in oncology, but they work in other fields as well. They’re teachers, liaisons, and translators. One of the most relevant aspects of the job is helping patients understand difficult medical concepts.
NPs are great candidates for nurse navigation. Head over to the Academy of Oncology Nurses and Patient Navigators to learn more about this great, but lesser-known, part of the nursing practice.
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