Employment for registered nurses is projected to increase 16 percent by 2024 — much quicker than average for all other occupations, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The growth is attributed to an increased emphasis on preventive care, growing rates of chronic conditions such as diabetes and obesity, and demand for healthcare services from Baby Boomers as they live longer and more active lives.
Some 100,000 RN jobs are expected to be available through 2022, the American Nurses Association reports. But because more than 500,000 experienced registered nurses are anticipated to retire by 2022, the BLS projects the nation will need to produce more than 1 million new RNs to avoid a shortage.
Most current and future nurses – more than 60 percent, the BLS reports – will work in hospitals or other clinical settings. But plenty of career options exist away from the nursing floors or outside the hospital doors.
A Bachelor of Science in Nursing from a program such as Duquesne University’s online RN-BSN can open doors for RNs who wish to pursue or transition into related specialties such as research nurse, sales representative, case manager, quality assurance, risk manager, administrator, or public relations manager. Here are a few examples:
Nurses involved in research gather and evaluate medical or pharmaceutical data that applies to healthcare, they also may direct clinical research projects. Since these nurses often work closely with both patients and other researchers, they should have strong interpersonal and communications skills. Salaries for clinical research nurses average around $72,000 a year, according to Glassdoor.com.
Nurses with a passion for teaching may opt to follow an educational path. Jobs for nurse educators can include being a clinical trainer for medical device manufacturer or a pharmaceutical company. The national average salary, according to Glassdoor.com, is $72,280.
Inside the hospital, clinical nurse educators may work with patients and their families on how to prevent illness or manage care after a hospital stay. Outpatient areas such as cardiac rehabilitation and diabetes education also employ nurse educators. The average salary for a clinical nurse educator is $76,000.
Nurse consultants act as designated resources for medical centers or other health-care companies. In addition to sharing expertise and advice, they may review medical records and research and manage complaints. According to Monster.com, the job growth for nurse consultants is about 19 percent for the next ten years, and the median annual salary is $75,000.
In the administrative field, case managers deal with the social aspects of patient care rather than the hands-on treatment RNs typically provide. Duties may include meeting with patients to discuss treatment plans, as well as coordinating with fellow healthcare professionals regarding patient recovery.
Most RN case managers work for health insurance companies, nursing homes, private health-care facilities, and hospices. Others are employed in the public health sector. According to Monster.com, managers in medical and health services areas have a growth rate of 23 percent over the next decade, and their average annual salary is nearly $89,000.
Risk managers are responsible for minimizing errors or accidents that could cost their employers money through insurance claims or malpractice suits. Although they are vital in hospitals, they also may be hired by insurance carriers, consulting firms, long-term care facilities, government agencies, physician practices, rehabilitation centers, and independent urgent-care centers.
Duties can include evaluating and training staff to improve processes and systems, coordinating with the facility’s legal department, addressing patient complaints, and ensuring that the facility complies with state and federal regulations. Considered a pressure-cooker job, risk management requires advanced medical knowledge as well as political and communications skills. Salaries in the risk management field can average more than $73,000 per year, according to PayScale.com.
Informatics nurses bridge the divide between clinicians and the IT department and help identify IT applications that can increase clinical efficiency. In addition to staying current on healthcare technology, informatics nurses may be called on to conduct staff training. Tech companies also hire informatics nurses to help develop products for the healthcare market. Additional training or certification may be required. Average annual salary, according to Monster.com, is about $66,500.
Nurses are adept at communicating – much of their day is spent explaining complicated information to patients and their families or exchanging data with doctors and fellow professionals. RNs can easily turn their communications skills and nursing knowledge into careers in writing, sales, or public speaking.
Though a nursing degree isn’t necessary for a public relations or marketing position in the healthcare field, it certainly can give an applicant an edge. RNs who transition into writing or public relations may find themselves in charge of internal and external communications for a hospital or other facility. They also might plan events to promote the facility, write press releases and deal with the media, or even advise facility executives during crisis situations. Additional education or training may be required. PR managers in the healthcare field can earn from $80,000 to more than $100,000 a year, according to an article in the Houston Chronicle.
Health journalism can easily be a part-time or second career for RNs. Nurses turned writers can parlay their specialized knowledge into published work for anything from blogs to PBS, WebMD, magazines, or technical publications. Staff positions are available, but most healthcare writing is done on a freelance basis. Payments can vary widely, though an income of more than $70,000 is possible, according to GlassDoor.com.
Medical product sales and training is another non-clinical option for nurses. Sales reps promote products and serve as the main point of contact between device manufacturers or pharmaceutical companies and professionals in the medical and healthcare fields. The field can be lucrative – average salary, according to MedReps.com, is more than $147,800.
Though most nurses enter the field to work in a hospital or doctor’s office, RNs who want to use their skills outside of a clinical setting can pursue a variety of options.
Duquesne University’s fully online RN-BSN program enables a registered nurse with an associate’s degree in nursing (ADN) or a diploma in nursing to earn a BSN degree. Classes start in fall, spring, and summer and the program can be completed on a full- or part-time basis. Topics include information technology, pathophysiology, genetics, and nursing ethics. Students also may be eligible to take up to nine credits at the graduate level while in the RN-BSN program.