Beyond Direct Patient Care: Five Nursing Specialties to Consider

Female nurse considering her options beyond patient care

Being a nurse does not have to involve direct patient care. Nurses have a number of career options available to them if they want to be a part of the health care industry, but don’t want to work in a clinical setting. Many of these types of positions will put you in a management position, making them perfect for senior nurses who are looking to broaden their job prospect horizons. If you are just getting started in your nursing studies and not sure which direction you are going in, these five specialties will give you something else to consider.

1. Quality Improvement Coordinator

Registered RNs are required for this position, which involves handling the nursing administrative side of a health care facility. Your main objective as a quality improvement coordinator will be to observe the facility in action, and then find ways to improve on the processes in order to ultimately improve on patient care. As an administrator you may also be asked to help the facility with budgeting issues so that they are able to save money.

2. Healthcare Risk Management Manager

Being successful in this position requires you to have a deep understanding of nursing policies and proper procedures so that you can help the facility avoid accidents or errors. Your goal would be to minimize risk and liability so that the medical staff can avoid any extraneous medical lawsuits. Only consider this career option if you are comfortable with communicating with other professionals and letting them know that their practices are putting them at risk.

3. Legal Nurse Consultant

An LNC’s role is similar to that of a healthcare risk management manager in that you are observing the practices of a medical facility from a liability standpoint. Responsibilities extend to collecting and maintaining medical records and their summarizing, and you will be called on to assist in defending the facility in any legal actions. Knowing the standards of care from a legal standpoint are essential in order to be successful in this position.

4. Research Study Monitor

Drug companies, medical research laboratories and even manufacturers of personal products all conduct various studies where the help of a medical professional will be appreciated. With this type of job you would ensure that the research meets the standards of the company, as well as any that are issued by state or federal regulations. You would monitor the labs and ultimately be held accountable for discrepancies or other flaws in the research.

5. Informatics Nurse

The technology savvy nurse may be interested in this field, which involves evaluating a facility’s need for IT applications and then help see that technology implemented. You would also help medical personnel learn how to navigate the new systems and ensure that it is being used to its full potential. If your tech skills are really advanced, you could become involved in the creation of new apps, programs, and larger computerized systems, designed specifically to enhance the work experience of nurses.

Realistically, it could be very difficult for a new nurse to land a job where there is no direct patient care. Even these non-clinical positions may prefer to have nurses who have at least a year or more of clinical experience. A practical way to accomplish this may be to gain your clinical experience while simultaneously continuing your studies into the specialized field you are interested in. This could potentially increase your odds of moving into the position you want by making you a more attractive job candidate.

Direct patient care is not every nurse’s first choice. Even if you love the knowledge and science behind nursing, but are not crazy about clinical work, there could still be a career opportunity out there for you.

What do you think? Share your thoughts in the comments section below and don't forget to check out the latest job postings at ModernNurse Jobs.


This article was republished with permission from SCRUBS Magazine.
Notify of
Most Voted
Newest Oldest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
2 years ago

Yes what about us older LPN/LVNs ?

Sondra L. Moylan, MS, RN
4 years ago

For a nurse that writes well, can research clinical gaps and needs, develop curriculum, and likes to travel, a great job is working for a continuing medical education company. I started my own non-profit CME approximately 16 years ago, and we are accredited by the American Nurses Credentialing Center’s Commission on Accreditation (ANCC), the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME) and the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE). If you are more interested in marketing, there are medical communications companies that hire nurses and pharmacists to develop marketing information for pharmaceutical companies and medical devise companies. There is a… Read more »