10 Alternative Nursing Careers

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Alternative nursing careers, such as flight nurse, travel nurse, school nurse, or forensic nurse, are possible after earning a BSN. Other nursing specialties in demand include mental health nurse, nurse midwife, neonatal nurse, and public health nurse—but keep in mind these careers require higher education.

nursing student checking patient's heartbeat

Wondering what you can do with a nursing degree? While earning your Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree and becoming a registered nurse (RN) empowers you to pursue a career in a typical hospital setting, it also sets you up to explore a variety of alternative nursing careers outside of the clinical setting. Whichever path you choose, a degree from the College of Mount Saint Vincent Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) program paves the way for an exciting career in nursing.

It's important to note that a BSN is the first step to earning any nursing specializations that might interest you as you advance your career. If you’re curious about which nursing specialties in demand might be right for you, here are 10 alternative careers for registered nurses to consider:

Nursing Careers Outside the Hospital

If working in new locations, examining evidence, or even working on a plane are ideas that excite you, then a career as a travel nurse, flight nurse, or forensic nurse may be right for you. Let’s take a deeper look at these and more alternative nursing careers.

1. Flight Nurse

Flight nurses are responsible for giving critical care on helicopters and airplanes. A flight nurse serves patients of all kinds after an accident or medical emergency, caring for them as they’re airlifted for treatment. Focused on ensuring safety, stability, and comfort throughout the flight, these nurses attend to the patient all the way until landing.

2. Travel Nurse

Once you’ve gained one or more years of experience working in a hospital, you will be eligible to become a travel nurse. With the help of travel nursing firms, travel nurses can apply to positions in any location that appeals to them. Their role may involve assisting hospitals with nurse shortages or supplying a needed area of expertise to a hospital.

nurse packing the back of her car

In general, housing stipends and monetary incentives are provided to travel nurses. Travel nursing might be a fantastic choice for you if you enjoy exploring new places and gaining experience in a variety of situations.

3. Public Health Nurse

Public health nurses generally perform health screenings and administer medications within county health departments, city health departments, federal health organizations, and mobile health care service units. They also educate the community on healthy living and disease prevention and work with the public in a variety of environments.

4. Forensic Nurse

Forensic nursing offers the best of both worlds to individuals who are interested in healthcare as well as the judicial system. Forensic nurses work in healthcare facilities, laboratories, and law courts. They are responsible for evaluating sexual and physical assault crimes as well as accidental deaths, so they must have compassion and tact in challenging situations.

5. School Nurse

School nurses treat students with injuries, illnesses, and chronic conditions. They analyze symptoms and the child’s condition to determine if the child needs further care at a healthcare facility. They also tend to bumps, bruises, and other general first aid concerns. As a school nurse, you’ll administer over-the-counter medications and build meaningful connections with students.

school nurse putting band-aid on child's arm

Nursing Specialties in Demand

This next section of alternative nursing careers includes roles that typically are in a hospital. However, they do require specialization and include some roles you may have not yet considered on your journey toward becoming a nurse!

6. Neonatal Nurse

Neonatal nurses work in intensive care units. Their primary patients are babies who face high-risk situations and complications. Examples can range from premature newborns to infants who are suffering from drug dependency or birth defects.

Specialization: This position requires a BSN, a valid RN license, and a Neonatal Resuscitation Program certification. Additionally, the Low Risk Neonatal Nursing and Neonatal Intensive Care Nursing certifications are also highly recommended.

7. Nurse Midwife

Pregnancy, prenatal care, childbirth, and postpartum recovery all fall under the umbrella of issues a nurse midwife may treat. These nurses guide patients through labor and delivery and provide postpartum support.

Specialization: For this role, an RN license and a BSN are required, as well as a master’s or doctorate degree in nursing. Additionally, they must complete the Certified Nurse Midwife credential administered by the American Midwifery Certification Board.

nurse showing up at front door of patient's home

8. Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS)

A clinical nurse specialist has a similar role of an RN; however, a CNS operates on the supervisory side. They are leaders who facilitate efficient and effective care. They need to be adept at analyzing patient data. They then use that data to implement changes that elevate treatment and ensure tailored care to each patient.

Specialization: In addition to a master's or doctorate degree in nursing, clinical nurse specialists also earn certifications in gerontology, cardiovascular disease, oncology, and other practice areas, although these are often optional.

smiling nurse holding a clipboard

Is a BSN program worth it? Here’s seven reasons why it is.

9. Infection Control/Prevention Nurse

Working at hospitals, clinics, and community health centers, these nurses focus on understanding and anticipating infectious diseases and viruses. They also provide recommendations for treating specific types of infections and offer education about how to prevent contamination.

Specialization: After earning your BSN and RN license and working at least two years as an RN, you’ll need a Certification in Infection Prevention and Control (CIC) from the Certification Board of Infection Control and Epidemiology.

10. Mental Health Nurse Practitioner

Mental health nurse practitioners evaluate and treat mental health and behavioral conditions. They often work with individuals, families, groups, or even communities as a whole.

Specialization: After earning your BSN and RN license, you’ll need a master’s degree in nursing as well as a Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner-Board Certified (PMHNP-BC) credential.

Nursing students practicing on manikin

Start Today

If you like what you have read so far and want to learn more about leveraging your previous education to earn a BSN in as few as 16 months, contact our admission team at the College of Mount Saint Vincent’s ABSN program today.