Oklahoma City University Online Nursing Blog
Non-bedside nursing careers

Non-bedside nursing careers

Female nursing manager sits at a desk in front of a computer as she reviews paper reports.

Nursing is a broad profession that can have an immense impact wherever it's needed. While there’s no question that bedside nurses play indispensable roles in patient care, there’s a myriad of nursing careers that prioritize a nurse’s other strengths or interests. Non-bedside nursing jobs can also be appealing for their more standard or flexible schedules, better pay, opportunities for growth, and simply the chance to do something new or untraditional.

Clinic-based non-bedside jobs

If you love your team and the experience of working within a health system or hospital, you don’t need to leave that environment to find a job with less direct patient care. Support care teams and patients with the following types of roles.

Nurse ethicist

Nurse ethicists, sometimes called “clinical ethicists” or “medical ethicists,” serve a critical role in medical settings. Generally working collaboratively with a larger medical ethics team, nurse ethicists help promote ethical competence and moral resilience of nurses at an organization through education and initiatives to mitigate moral distress among clinical staff. They can provide one-on-one consultations, develop guidelines for risk assessment and patients rights protocols, and even complete research and scholarship on nurse ethics topics.

Nurse ethicists generally need at least a master’s degree in nursing, but it could be helpful to complete an ethics fellowship or certification program to gain experience and qualifications. In many settings, a doctor of nursing practice (DNP) is a preferred qualification. The average salary for a clinical ethicist is $78,635 annually.1

Nurse informaticist

If you’re interested in the role of technology to improve care delivery, have you thought about getting into nurse informatics? Nurses in this role combine their experience working on the floor with propensity for using health care software and technology to support operations and patient care. As a nurse informaticist you could help optimize communications across electronic information systems, implement and update technologies including electronic health record systems (EHRs), analyze data, research new technology and educate clinicians on how to use technology.

Informatics nurses can earn an average salary of $97,795 a year,2 and while they don’t require master’s degrees, it’s often advantageous to have a Bachelor of Science in Nursing and Informatics Nursing Certification when applying to informaticist jobs.

Nurse manager

Do you have strong project management skills and enjoy being in charge? Consider a job as a nurse manager. In this role you could work closely with a team of nursing staff, oversee day-to-day operations of hospital departments, coordinate training opportunities and work as a liaison between different departments or staff members. Clinical nurse managers earn an average salary of $84,6313 per year and often are required to hold a BSN, especially at hospitals that have or are working to attain Magnet status. Working as a nurse manager can be a good first step to a career in hospital administration. If you’re interested in a long-term career in management, you’ll want to consider earning your Master of Science in Nursing degree (potentially with a leadership concentration) to open yourself up to more opportunities.

Education and policy jobs

Education is one of the most in-demand sectors of nursing today. According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, budget constraints, aging faculty and competition from clinical sites have made nursing faculty shortages so dire.4 However, they can be extremely rewarding. Another job that can help you move away from the bedside but still make a big impact is to work on public policy or public health. While not strictly confined to the public sector, these jobs are likely to be funded by state, local, or federal governments or are centered on responding to, influencing, or coordinating state, local, or federal governmental policy.

Public health nursing

Nursing jobs in public health come in many different forms. You could work as a governmental advisor or a consultant who uses their experience to advise on policy for public health matters. You could also work in a research-centered position, collecting and analyzing data. The average salary for a public health nurse is $75,340 annually.5 Like with many nursing roles, a higher level of education could likely result in higher salaries and more opportunities. Learn more about the opportunities in public health nursing in our article on the role of nurses in the future of public health.

Professor or Nurse educator

Nurses who instruct and teach get a unique opportunity to really shape the incoming generation. Education is a great role for someone who feels confident in their practice and has patience and interest in connecting with others in their profession. Nurse educators, though placed in health systems and clinics rather than universities, also can enjoy the chance to hone in on the piece of nursing that interests them most and have the opportunity to impart their knowledge to others.

Nurse professors earn an average salary of $81,490.6 As a member of faculty you’re typically required to have attained at least the level of the education you’re teaching, but it’s preferred to have an even higher degree. For example, if you want to teach BSN level students, you could just have a BSN but some schools might prefer you have an MSN with an education specialization. Nurse educators earn an average of $85,9557 annually and may be able to take on the role with just an RN license but often more experience is preferred and will likely result in higher pay.

Nurse consultant or health care lobbyist
As explored in another OCU blog, Best Non-Traditional Nursing Jobs, if you want a career focused on improving the health care system through policy, a job as a legal consultant or nurse lobbyist could be a good fit. Nurses working as lobbyists bring critical first-hand experience to the role and also can thrive using their patient relation skills as lobbying requires a lot of relationship building and networking. Nurse consultants working for law firms provide expertise on cases with topics like medical malpractice and injury. They might help interpret medical language in documents, determine medical expenses, participate in medical exams or even testify as an expert witness. Legal nurse consultants make an average of $86,744 annually.8

Make your way from the bedside to the board room with OCU’s online nursing programs

Whether your dream career is to get into research to improve the nursing profession, working as a professor educating the next generation of nurses, or taking on an administrative leadership role in a health system, the Kramer School of Nursing can help you get there. Take the first step by talking to an admissions outreach advisor and apply to enroll in the online program that suits your path: RN-BSN, MSN, or RN-MSN.

Oklahoma City University has engaged Everspring, a leading provider of education and technology services, to support select aspects of program delivery.

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Oklahoma City University has engaged Everspring, a leading provider of education and technology services, to support select aspects of program delivery.