Nursing may be the career of a lifetime, but that doesn’t mean it will last a lifetime. In fact, this job is hard on your body. Like most jobs these days, it doesn’t come with a pension to see you through once you’ve been worn down to a nubbin.
Whether you decide to work as a nurse until you are physically unable to do it anymore or retire from the profession before it gets to that point, you will be looking for a second career. Maybe it’s time to hang up your white orthopedic shoes and work from home for a while. Here are a few suggestions for at-home careers that might make good use of your nursing qualifications.
> Child Care
If you ask 100 parents if they would rather have a trained nurse or a layperson watching after their infant or toddler, what do you think they would answer? The fact that your healthcare skills are much more advanced than simply knowing infant CPR isn’t really all that relevant to providing day-to-day care for a small child. But the one-in-a-thousand chance that your nursing know-how might save their child’s life puts you at the top of a parent’s babysitter candidate list.
You can certainly charge more for your services than other child care providers. If you don’t have the energy to run a child care center from your home all by yourself, you could consider hiring younger staff and acting as the supervisor.
> Life Coach
As a nurse, you have a perspective on life (and death) that most people in Western culture don’t have. You’ve seen lives in crisis, lives ending and lives saved. Plus, you’ve worked long and hard to achieve your own life goals—and you’ve made your share of mistakes.
This adds up to the kind of wisdom that younger people facing significant life changes need to hear. If the one thing you’ll miss about working as a nurse is interacting with people, this may be the entrepreneurial opportunity for you. Even if you can’t get out and about, you can run a successful coaching business with a website, email, a cell phone and a Skype account.
> Home Health Aide/Home Care
Technically, this job is at your client’s home and not your own. But it can be low-intensity as long as it doesn’t involve rolling, lifting and transporting bedridden patients. For example, you could be a patient care coordinator for families with an ill loved one with complex medical needs. Or you might be the perfect person to help a stroke patient with light physical therapy or speech therapy exercises.
Finding the right client matches may be a little like dating at first, but you’ll get the hang of it. Once you build a strong referral base, the marketing shouldn’t be expensive. Since you can bill patients for any supplies you use as part of their care, your overhead can be kept minimal as well. If you live in a rent-controlled apartment complex that doubles as a retirement community (but without any health services), your client base might be living all around you right now, making travel time a non-issue.
> Health Writer
The Internet is full of “experts” who are nothing of the kind. People have learned to be wary of advice coming from anonymous online writers who have no clue what they’re talking about. Having those nursing certification letters after your name and several decades of real life experience comes in very handy if you want be a web content writer. If communicating with patients or other nurses was your forte at your old job, make it the centerpiece of your new one.
Just be aware: Writing a blog for profit isn’t likely to be enough to keep you in macaroni and cheese. The number of writers who make a substantial advertising income from blogging is vanishingly small. If you are new to writing, build a portfolio on sites like Helium and eHow that have very low barriers to entry. Then, parlay that experience into more lucrative gigs writing content for doctors and health or fitness clients. You can approach these prospects directly, build your own writing-business website or find projects through bidding platforms such as Elance or Guru.
There are about three million licensed RNs in the United States. That number doesn’t take into account LPNs and CNAs. All in all, the nursing community in the U.S. is enormous. Even better, this demographic is one that has an identity that’s very bound up with career. Look around you at work: Nurses buy nurse-related paraphernalia ranging from practical to humorous to artistic all the time. This means you have a huge target market ready to buy nursing gear.
Make your own unique nursing items to sell through Etsy or learn to be a power reseller of nursing equipment or apparel on eBay—it’s up to you. Maybe you’ll come up with the next clever nursing tagline and make a bundle on CafePress or Zazzle. If you discover you have a real gift for marketing (especially social media marketing), you might even find that an MLM job in the weight loss or fitness field works for you.
It takes a while to get the hang of online sales. So anticipate spending the first six to 12 months learning how things really work—and don’t ever sink your money into a bunch of inventory until you really know what sells and why.
Do you remember how hard you had to study for the NCLEX? Do you wish there had been someone there to help mentor you through the process? Be that someone for the next generation of nursing students. You can do this in person at your home if you live in a community near a nursing school. But online will work, too.
If you’re a good speaker and not just a good teacher, you can make even more money by putting together online seminars and podcasts. These teaching tools allow you to sell a product and not just a service. Instead of simply making a fixed amount per hour for a finite number of hours in a week or month, you can get that residual income rolling in (a plus for anybody who wants to retire).
Nurse consulting is supposedly a very hot trend these days. Attorneys, insurance companies and some government agencies understand that a nurse has the practical knowledge to review cases involving medical issues just as well as a doctor can most of the time.
The difference is that nurses charge much less for their expertise. You do need a special license to offer your services in this field. At this time, the American Legal Nurse Consultant Certification Board offers the only LNC certification exam accredited by the American Board of Nursing Specialties. There are many other organizations offering certification programs as well. So find out which certifications attorneys actually regard as valid before you pay for a course.
If you plan to do this job from home, you may need to work as an independent contractor rather than an in-house legal consultant. However, that’s not set in stone, since more and more regular employees in document-intensive jobs do e-commute these days, thanks to file sharing and cloud computing.
The main thing is to build a client base of attorneys who know they can count on you for accurate, timely review of all the cases they send your way. Be sure to get a reference from your previous employer that highlights your dependability, common sense and attention to detail. If your nursing skills were highest in the analytical category rather than the “people person” category, this might be just the job for you.
What do you think? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.
This article was republished with permission from SCRUBS Magazine.