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Desk Jobs for Nurses

Nursing is a demanding job, physically, mentally and emotionally. When first embarking on a new career in healthcare, many nurses assume they will work in a direct patient care setting. Examples may include inpatient units, outpatient clinics or community settings. While positions in these settings are common, there are nursing careers outside of the clinical setting too.

The reasons why a nurse chooses to leave patient care vary based on the individual. The physical demands of working long hours paired with the emotional strain of direct patient care can lead some healthcare professionals to seek alternative career paths.

Physical Limitations to Bedside Nursing

As we age, our ability to perform certain physical tasks lessens. Injury or illness can also slow us down physically, but these limitations do not indicate the end of a fruitful nursing career. Several non-clinical options exist within the nursing profession. There are many other ways to harness your wealth of knowledge in the healthcare sector.

A blog post titled “Working With a Disability” contains an interview with a registered nurse (identity withheld) who was no longer able to perform her bedside duties. The post highlights the personal struggles around the desire to remain active in clinical settings, the difficulty of accepting a new role and ways to stay optimistic. “I really thought my nursing career was over when I became disabled,” she says. “Even when first considering case management, I saw it as primarily administrative work and not too challenging at that. Boy, was I wrong! I now realize you don’t always have to use physical skills to be a nurse; my nursing knowledge is just as important and valuable, if not more so. I make a difference in my own way now, and I’m a proud and productive member of the nursing profession.”

Desk Jobs With Patient Contact

While many nursing jobs beyond the bedside may not offer as much hands-on patient care, direct patient care is still an option. Examples of this might include case management, patient advocacy and patient educator roles. You can also have an impact on patient care through several other roles, including educating staff as a mentor or preceptor. By sharing your knowledge and expertise with other nurses, you can help ensure that patients are receiving the most competent care possible.

Behind-the-Scenes Nursing Roles

Other non-clinical nursing positions may include roles in administration/management, consulting, academic healthcare writing/editing, chart auditing and risk management. writer Cindy Mehallow encourages nurses to refresh their nursing career by pursuing a role beyond the bedside: “…working in a nonclinical specialty can renew your love for nursing and draw on your clinical experience.” Mehallow adds, “… positions exist at most healthcare institutions and are well-suited for experienced nurses.”

Changing your course to better match your mental and physical health status can be challenging. However, pursuing a healthy work-life balance is crucial in any career. Many nurses enter the healthcare field in hopes of helping others and providing hands-on care. Showing compassion and providing comfort is part of the gig. Some nurses struggle with the idea of “leaving patients behind” when life takes their career path in an unplanned direction. But, it is important to remember you can still make a significant difference in the lives of patients in a variety of other ways.

“Making a transition such as this can be unsettling at first. But once you discover that your great nursing knowledge, experience, and credentials can be put to good use in many diverse ways and places to still make a difference, you can settle into a new way of working as a nurse all while sitting down. These new ways are almost always challenging, rewarding, pay well, and have good benefits,” says RN and contributor Donna Cardillo.

Change can be scary, especially when you have worked so hard to obtain your nursing degree and gain clinical experience. Seeking information related to non-clinical job options for nurses can provide insight into what positions may be of interest. Conducting online searches, connecting with peers, attending career conferences, exploring mentorship and finding a like-minded online community may all prove fruitful in your new endeavors.

Learn more about A-State’s online RN to BSN program.

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