After Nursing, What Will You Do?

This article was republished with permission from SCRUBS Magazine.


Have you been considering a change of career? Nursing can be an incredibly stressful job, and for many people, it can get to be too much after a decade or two of service. Many nurses eventually decide to switch careers later in life. But what are your options for doing this? What job opportunities are accessible to people who come from a nursing background?

Believe it or not, you do have options — and you don’t necessarily have to take a massive pay cut, either. If you’re not happy in your job, and you’re ready for something else, making a career transition could be very good for your happiness and your health.

Becoming a Nurse Administrator

Many nurses eventually choose to transition into administrative roles. The pay is very good for these positions, and if you have a flair for management and leadership, it could be a fantastic fit for you.

Nurse administrators are where nursing and human resources intersect. They’re responsible for things like creating and managing schedules for nurse personnel, giving out performance reviews, setting up meetings, and developing training and professional development initiatives for employees.

To become a nurse administrator, you will need at least a bachelor’s degree in nursing. Chances are, that’s something you already have. You’ll also need to maintain licensing as a registered nurse. Master’s degrees are technically optional, but in practice, they’re standard. A lot of Master of Science in Nursing programs offer training geared specifically toward administrative roles, and you can also obtain post-graduate certificates in administration.

Getting Into Corporate Consulting

It’s not uncommon for professionals to eventually transition from a salaried role into independent consulting work, which can be quite lucrative. This is also true for nurses. Hospitals and other healthcare facilities do work with consultants for things like training initiatives and leadership development. Healthcare technology companies also need consultants.

Nursing IT

Do you have a knack for computers? If so, you’re a rare breed. It’s a common truism in the IT community that healthcare professionals have a strong tendency to be “not a computer person,” to put it mildly. As a nurse, you can potentially work with technology firms to help them better understand where their products intersect with patient care. Plus, the money is very good if you’re an RN in IT. IT management jobs related to healthcare have salaries that generally hover around $120,000 per year.

Research Analyst

If you’re still passionate about patient care, but the shift work and emotional stress of nursing have you feeling exhausted, you may want to consider becoming a clinical research analyst. Your firsthand experience with patient care and day-to-day hospital operations can be very valuable for this kind of role. According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, it’s a rapidly growing field.

Healthcare Education

Interested in moving away from a nursing role, but not quite ready to give up clinical work completely? Healthcare education could be the perfect new career path for you. When you teach, you’ll still stay up to date with your nursing skills, but you won’t spend the majority of your time caring for patients. It’s also a leadership role, where you can provide mentorship and guidance for the next generation of nurses.

Medical Sales

Here’s a little secret: medical sales representatives can make very good money. Not only are the salaries quite respectable, but they can also get sizeable commissions. Sales reps for medical equipment companies build strong professional relationships with physicians and other healthcare providers and having an RN can give you better credibility to help you build rapport with your customers. The schedules also tend to be very flexible, a far cry from the crazy hours you deal with as a nurse.

Nursing Case Management

A nursing case manager helps manage and organize a patient’s plan of care. This includes making doctor’s appointments, scheduling surgeries, and making sure the patient gets the best possible quality of care. This field is expected to grow by 17% by 2024.

Patient Advocacy

Patient advocacy is a growing field within healthcare. A nurse advocate helps patients understand every aspect of their care, including treatment options and insurance concerns. Their role is to help the patient make the best possible decisions for themselves.

Nurses Have Surprising Career Flexibility

Being a nurse, per se, is far from the only thing you can do when you’re an RN. Whether you move into an administrative role or leave healthcare for a career in medical device sales or corporate consulting, there are plenty of options that you can consider if you’re feeling lost and stuck in your current career path.

Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

This article was republished with permission from SCRUBS Magazine.



  1. I have been a medical-surgical nurse for the last 31 years. I really think that I could stay in this position until I retire if it wasn’t for the 12 hour shifts. I would be happy as a lark working 3 days a week working 8 hour shifts. Since all hospitals have changed from 8 hour shifts to 12 hour shifts…I believe there are definitely more mistakes due to nurses being tired and physical ailments due to being on your feet for so long. Now at age 53, it is very hard to find a part time job, 8 hour shifts, with an AS degree. I have no desire to go back to school. So for the younger nurses, make sure you keep going to school and at least get your Bachelors degree and make sure you get some time in the ICU or CCU. Definitely opens up more job opportunities. I would never be bored being retired and just enjoy gardening and taking care of my parents…but gotta make some money.

  2. After 40 year of bedside care, I’m working on a MSN in nursing education. I don’t have the stamina to keep up with bedside nursing much longer. I love to teach so I should be ready to start in about 14 months.

  3. I graduated from nursing school in 1977. I looked like a 21 year old Nurse Ratched from “Cuckcoos Nest” Anyway I worked a lot of years on the floor…but I had health problems ( I was too busy taking care of everyone else..husband, signif icant other and sons) I had a a good year of getting on blood pressure meds, getting tests I never had time for. I quit smoking lost 37 lbs and walk 5 miles a day. I also got politically active, I love politics anyway at 62 couldn’t be happier. Happily retired from nursing.


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