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Alternative Careers for Nurses

People interested in helping others may enjoy working as a nurse; however, there are many careers that involve helping patients or clients. This article will cover educational requirements and job responsibilities for a few of these other careers.

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Alternative Career Options for Nurses

Those who wish to pursue a career in nursing will find other positions in healthcare and social services that utilize their skill set and experience. Five similar careers are presented below, all of which make use of the same kinds of compassion, communication, critical thinking and problem-solving skills that nurses have.

Job Title Median Salary (2016)* Job Growth (2014-2024)*
Physician Assistant $101,480 30%
Social Worker $46,890 12%
Nurse Midwife $99,770 25%
Dental Hygienist $72,910 19%
Health Educator $53,070 12%

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

Find schools that offer these popular programs

  • Clinical Nursing
  • Critical Care Nursing
  • Direct-Entry Midwifery - LM, CPM
  • Licensed Vocational Nurse Training
  • Mental Health Nursing
  • Neonatal Nursing
  • Nurse Anesthetist
  • Nurse Assistant or Patient Care Assistant
  • Nurse Midwife
  • Nurse Practitioner or Family Nurse Practitioner
  • Nursing Administration
  • Nursing for Adults and Seniors
  • Nursing Science
  • Occupational Health Nursing
  • Operating Room and Surgical Nursing
  • Pediatric Nursing
  • Public Health Nurse or Community Nurse
  • Registered Nurse

Career Information for Alternative Careers for Nurses

Physician Assistant

Those interested in a career as a nurse may also be interested in a career as a physician assistant, because both work with patients to treat illness or injury. As a physician assistant, you will provide direct care to patients and collaborate with other healthcare professionals. Your duties will include conducting examinations and ordering any necessary diagnostic tests, providing treatment to patients like immunizations or prescribing medication, and informing patients on how to manage their conditions. Physician assistants primarily work in doctors' offices or hospitals and usually need a master's degree and a license.

Social Worker

People interested in nursing might also enjoy social work, because both jobs deal directly with people to improve their health or well-being. Social workers work within their communities to assist people with issues. Your job responsibilities involve determining clients' needs and how to better manage their issues, providing assistance in obtaining services like food stamps or healthcare, and periodically meeting with clients to monitor their progress. Social workers are needed in a variety of environments, such as hospitals, mental health clinics, and government organizations, and need at least a bachelor's degree and a license. Clinical social workers need a master's degree.

Nurse Midwife

Those thinking of pursuing a career as a nurse but interested in more advanced education may want to look into the advanced practice nursing role of nurse midwife. As a nurse midwife, you will specialize in providing healthcare services to women. Your duties will include providing annual gynecological exams, prenatal care and delivery care, and giving patients information on family planning and staying healthy. Many nurse midwives work in physicians' offices or hospitals and must have a master's degree and a nursing license, with the option to pursue certification through The American Midwifery Certification Board.

Dental Hygienist

If you're interested in nursing, dental hygiene may also interest you, because both careers are supportive roles in providing healthcare to patients. Dental hygienists are responsible for performing services during patients' bi-annual examinations. These services include teeth cleaning, checking for cavities or other dental health issues, and instructing patients on how to maintain good dental health. You will work in a dental office and need at least an associate's degree and licensure for this career.

Health Educator

Nurses often instruct patients on healthy living habits, so a career as a health educator may also interest those considering nursing. A health educator's role is to work directly with residents in their community and instruct them on how to improve their health. You will do so by creating and implementing outreach programs, educating residents on how to better manage their chronic health conditions, and assisting residents in obtaining other social or healthcare services within the community. As a health educator, you will likely work for a government organization or hospital and will need a bachelor's degree. You may need to obtain the Certified Health Education Specialist for some positions.

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