If you ask most people why they became a nurse, a good portion will say they wanted to help people. So many of us feel that call to be a healer, a helper. The savior of someone in their darkest, weakest moment.
It’s an identity most of us can resonate with on a deeper level. That deep sense of fulfillment keeps us going on our hardest days. Sure, we may have not had a break during our 12-hour shift, but at least we were making a difference. We were helping people.
What happens when burnout hits? Research has shown that 62% of nurses will experience burnout in their lifetime. And they’re starting to find alternative employment. Over 100,000 nurses in the United States left the profession since 2020. Another 800,000 plan to leave by 2027.
So what happens to those healers? Those nurses chose the bedside because they wanted to be a beacon of good in the world. Can they use their nursing license to make the world a better place away from the bedside?
You can make a difference in someone’s life without actually laying hands on
a patient. Nontraditional nursing roles are becoming more popular in the face of unsafe working conditions in the healthcare industry.
You don’t have to be burned out to help others. The two aren’t mutually exclusive.
So let’s chat about what your options are.
Medical and Health Writing
At the bedside, you can only help a few patients at a time. Or 22 if you’re at a facility with questionable ratios. But as a writer, your content can touch the lives of thousands upon thousands of people.
We all know that some clinicians are bogged down with high patient loads. They may not have the time for client education. When their patients leave the facility with their questions unanswered, they can turn to your articles.
You can write the documents that help get a life-saving medication approved by the FDA. You can draft the user manuals for the machines that hospitals use. You could create the script for a commercial for a medication that helps cure a disease.
All without stepping into another healthcare facility ever again.
Legal Nurse Consulting
Legal nurse consultants help lawyers understand medical records for their cases. Your wealth of knowledge could help someone in a wrongful death lawsuit for their loved one. Or, you could help with a personal injury case.
You can help families get the closure they need to move on from a traumatic time in their life.
Podcasting is a fun way to connect with your peers in an interactive environment. In this career, you can choose the topic. So, you can choose what population to help.
Here are some common subjects I’ve noticed:
Nursing school tips
Novel Nursing tips
Tips to reduce burnout
Nursing career development and finances
Specialized niches, like cardiac
A lot of nurse podcasters seem to focus on helping other nurses survive the profession. There’s a sense of relatability and humor that only other nurses understand. There are podcasts on client education niches, like pulmonary disease or cardiac disease.
If you’re looking for peer-to-peer connections, podcasting may be for you.
Education and Mentoring
The educator or mentor track is one of the more traditional nursing roles in this roundup. As an educator, you’re responsible for helping the next generation of nurses. This industry is known for eating our young.
This means that unprepared, novel nurses are thrown into intense medical
situations. They don't have the help they need to navigate those moments.
There’s no wonder that one study found that up to 56% of new nurses will leave the profession in their second year.
You can be part of the change to end this dangerous trend. You can help a new generation of competent nurses that may be more likely to deal with the bedside. You won’t be at the bedside, but you can make sure that competent nurses are.
Traditional educational roles aren’t your only option, though. You can help mentor and teach nurses in other, nontraditional roles. I help nurses leave the pivot from the bedside to lucrative writing careers. I get a great sense of peace from helping nurses pursue a more sustainable lifestyle writing.
You can help patients manage their health away from the bedside and have a therapeutic relationship. Health coaching is the perfect balance between bedside and remote work.
As a health coach, you can help your clients manage their health conditions
away from the bedside. Watch as they progress through their SMART goals. Perform client education, create care plans, and have client meetings to promote health and wellness. All without those 12-hour shifts.
Consulting is a fancy way of saying you offer your knowledge to others and help connect people. You can be a consultant for publications, healthcare facilities, and medical companies. As a nurse, you have a unique insight.
You understand the ins and outs of the medical community like no other. You’ve used the machines medical companies are selling. You’ve treated the diseases journalists are writing about.
You can offer this distinct perspective to professionals. This can help them understand how their product or idea will interact with the healthcare realm. And get paid for it. You can help nurses on a widespread scale by providing authentic, helpful feedback on how to improve their workplace experience.
Leaving the bedside doesn’t mean you have to sever your identity as a helpful healer. You can still make a lasting difference in the lives of others. Sometimes, you can make a bigger, more impactful difference. Instead of managing one patient at a time, you may be able to make a lasting change on a systemic level that can positively impact the healthcare system for patients and nurses.
Curious about medical writing? Check out all the ways I can support you here.