Ten lesser-known locations in which you can practice as a nurse

For caring people, nursing is one of the most rewarding careers you can have. There is nothing quite like the sense of achievement and satisfaction you will get as you provide patients with the much-needed medical treatment and support to help them get their life back on track. Suppose you are currently exploring online BSN to NP programs. In that case, you will no doubt have an image of nurses working on the ward in a hospital environment or carrying out check-ups and administering treatments and medications at a physician’s clinic or another healthcare facility. However, medical emergencies can occur to anyone, anywhere, and as such many varied locations employ nurses to provide care in the eventuality of health emergencies. While you will have a very satisfying career as a nurse working in a traditional hospital setting, you might like to think outside the box and take your expertise elsewhere to help people requiring treatment wherever they may be.

To give you some ideas of the scope of possibility, here are ten lesser-known locations in which you can practice as a nurse. 

1. Infectious disease nursing

No post-2020 discussion of healthcare and nursing can be done without acknowledging the impact of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic on society and the selfless work of those in the healthcare profession. You may, in fact, have been inspired by those individuals to become a nurse and work specifically in infectious disease nursing. In this role, as well as hospitals and clinics, you will work in nursing homes, universities, and other locations where you will treat patients who have been diagnosed with an infectious disease and administer vaccines to help prevent its spread. To become an infectious disease nurse, you will first need to become a registered nurse by completing a nursing degree and passing the nursing state license exam. You might consider furthering your education by looking into online BSN to NP programs, as a master’s degree will equip you with the clinical expertise needed to prevent, assess, treat, and manage acute and chronic infectious diseases. 

2. Rural nurse

It is estimated that around 25% of the US population lives in a rural area. While the pros are manyfold – being in beautiful and peaceful surroundings, for instance – there are some drawbacks, the lack of healthcare facilities being a major one. This lack can be put down to several factors. For instance, serving a rural community might not appeal to health care practitioners, as they will have to take on a large number of patients for a relatively low financial remuneration. However, residents of rural communities experience the same health issues as those in cities. In fact, they may be at even more of a disadvantage by having no access to essential medical facilities like mental health resources and dentists.

As a rural nurse, you will provide a vital link to healthcare for rural communities, diagnosing and treating acute and chronic conditions. You will also play an important role in providing health education to rural communities on topics as diverse as healthy eating and dementia care, contributing to improving the overall health of at-risk rural communities. To become a rural nurse, look for online BSN to NP programs. These higher degree programs will qualify you as a nurse practitioner, a role that gives you the responsibility of prescribing medications and allowing you to operate alone in rural communities. 

3. Parish nurse

A career in faith community nursing is ideal if you have a strong faith that you want to combine with nursing and healthcare. As a parish nurse, you will provide a holistic approach to nursing that aligns with faith teachings by developing and leading programs that are designed to encourage both spiritual and physical health. Unusually for a nursing role, you will not focus on providing treatment for sickness in a faith community; rather, your role will be more pastoral, such as providing health education and teaching by organizing resources and responding to any health-related issues that might affect the faith community like substance abuse and domestic violence cases.

To become a parish nurse, you will first have to become a registered nurse by taking an accredited training program and passing the NCLEX-RN to become licensed to practice in your state. You might want to further your nursing education by looking for online BSN to NP programs from a faith college that integrates nursing with faith ministry. 

4. Occupational health nurse

With important deadlines and clashes of personality between colleagues, the workplace can be incredibly stressful. Add to that various physical ailments, such as the effects of using a keyboard too much and sitting in unsupportive chairs, and it is no wonder that work-related health conditions are on the rise. As an occupational health nurse, you will specialize in promoting health and safety in the workplace through such actions as training and counseling employees on health and wellness issues, creating disease prevention programs, and ensuring that an organization’s practices align with government health and safety standards. To be successful in this role, you will not only have extensive nursing knowledge, but you will also be well-versed in government health and safety policies and issues affecting businesses. As such, you might decide to look to further your own education with online BSN to NP programs in public health or take a master’s degree in a business-related field.  

5. Forensic nurse

Forensic nurses play a unique and incredibly important role in the healthcare and judicial sectors. This is an incredibly varied career path, in which there are many different sub-specialties. For instance, you might treat assault victims, investigate crime scenes to help gather essential evidence for a case or provide healthcare to those in correctional facilities. Or, you could specialize as a forensic psychiatric nurse to assess and manage offenders with psychological, social, and behavior disorders. If you are licensed as a registered nurse and have at least two years of experience behind you, you can take the Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) certification at either adult or paediatric level.

Online BSN to NP programs with a focus on forensic nursing will also provide you with a pathway into this fascinating branch of nursing. 

6. Military nurse

Nurses play an important role in the military, providing valuable healthcare for injuries sustained while on active service. You can join the Nurse Corp of any major military branch: the Navy, Army, Air Force, and Coast Guard. As a military nurse, you will work either at home or abroad in military hospitals, military bases, and global response centers. In addition, you might be deployed alongside military personnel during times of war and work in the exceedingly dangerous and high-stress environment of a foreign war zone, providing urgent medical treatment to injured soldiers. It is therefore important that you are fully prepared for the possible brutal realities of being a military nurse and are able to cope in stressful environments in which you are likely to witness upsetting situations.

To become a military nurse, first, earn a bachelor’s of science in nursing – as military nurses are commissioned officers, an associate degree will not be accepted. Next, look for online BSN to NP programs that will afford you the flexibility to study around a full-time job and other life commitments. After you have then earned your certification, it is advisable that you gain some years of clinical civilian nursing experience before enlisting in the military. Finally, if your application to become a military nurse is successful, you will be required to complete an Officer Basic Leadership Course, which will provide you with training on leadership skills, an introduction to military life, and physical training. 

7. Cruise ship nurse

If you love to travel and want a one-of-a-kind career, why not consider becoming a cruise ship nurse? Many commercial cruise liners are so large and hold berths for so many passengers that they are almost like entire cities on the sea. Many passengers are likely to experience various travel-related ailments with all the fun and frolics of vacation time and exploring new places. As a cruise ship nurse, you will be responsible for treating patients experiencing a variety of problems. For example, sunburn and food poisoning are common on a cruise liner, but you may also have to deal with something more serious, such as a passenger going into cardiac arrest.

To become a cruise ship nurse, you will first need to gain experience in multiple healthcare settings after passing your NCLEX-RN and becoming a registered nurse after studying online BSN to NP programs. Many cruise liners prefer candidates with experience in acute care and niche areas, such as ICU experience, that will stand them in good stead for dealing with any unexpected health crises that may occur to a passenger at sea. You should also earn the Advanced Cardiovascular Life Support certification, which will make you eligible to work with any cruise line. 

8. Rehabilitation nurse

Rehabilitation nurses help patients of any age to recover from chronic illnesses and debilitating injuries. For example, you might be instrumental in helping a patient to walk again after having spent several months in a wheelchair following a car accident. This is a holistic approach to nursing, in which you will create an individual care plan for patients to help them achieve their rehabilitation goals and provide them and their families with the support they need as they move from a hospital environment back to their daily lives. You will need to demonstrate personal qualities of patience, empathy, and teamwork to help your patient to achieve their rehabilitation goals successfully.

There are many different settings in which you can work as a rehabilitation nurse in addition to a traditional hospital environment, such as rehabilitation facilities, long-term acute care facilities, and home health care agencies. In addition, you might want to consider investigating online BSN to NP programs that will earn you a master’s of science in nursing to become a clinical nurse specialist.

Furthermore, after two years of experience as a rehabilitation nurse, you will be eligible to take the Rehabilitation Registered Nurse certification exam; though not a requirement, this will improve your knowledge of rehabilitation nursing and advance your career opportunities. 

9. School nurse

School nurses help to support students’ health needs and education in a school environment so that they can achieve academic success and develop healthy habits that will stick with them throughout their lives. As a school nurse, you will do much more than simply dress playground wounds. No two days are ever the same, and you might be involved in tasks such as carrying out physical exams, assessing and monitoring the immunization status of each student, and educating students on the importance of keeping a healthy body and healthy mind.

To become a school nurse, you will need to be a registered nurse with advanced skills. Online BSN to NP programs will qualify you to practice independently, prescribe medications, and supervise and delegate care in a community. You might also want to earn an interdisciplinary master’s degree in education or counselling. 

10. Home health nurse

As a home health nurse, you will visit patients in the comfort of your own home. This will allow you to move away from rigid hospital shift patterns and enable you to practice more independently. You will provide valuable nursing care to patients who struggle to regularly attend hospitals and clinics for appointments, such as elderly and disabled people or those with a terminal illness or in recovery from an injury. You will administer medications and change wounds, as well as monitoring a patient’s health and updating their care plan.

However, home health nursing is not all about providing healthcare – you will be an important source of social contact and support to patients who might otherwise be isolated. Online BSN to NP programs will provide you with the education to prescribe some medications and operate independently, and as such is a useful educational route to take to become a home health nurse.

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