Non-traditional career options for nurses

October 3, 2014

Article by Global Pre-Meds
Hospital doctor shadowing & global health experience programs.

See current opportunities

Nursing has come a long way since the days of starched white uniforms and being relegated to secondary roles in healthcare. Today the nursing field has diversified to such an extent that some of the specialities bear almost no resemblance to the traditional version of nursing. Today’s nurses are highly specialised leaders in their field and while patient care is still at the core of it all, they no longer just work in wards in the hospital. What’s really great about all of the options available is that, even if you choose to specialise in one area and a few years down the line you feel you are burned out, you do not have to go back to school and start a new career. Within the field of nursing itself, you can look at other options that will put your nursing degree to good use without you having to work in the traditional nursing jobs.

Gap Medics student Angela and her mentor in the pediatric department of Tosamaganga Hospital Legal nursing

Legal nurses usually work in attorney offices where they offer consultative advice and practical perspectives into complex malpractice cases and personal injury cases. In medical related legal cases, attorneys often cannot understand medical jargon and it is up to the legal nurse to translate it into the simplest possible format. Legal nurses also provide insights into cases that require an understanding of medicine.



Forensic nursing

Forensic nurses primarily deal with providing care to individuals who are victims of crime-related trauma, such as rape or assault. These nurses not only treat the patients but they also document any possible evidence and they also need to have a detailed knowledge about these activities in order to provide any insights that may be of use. They work closely with the legal system and law enforcement agencies. These nurses are also sometimes called to the witness stand during a trial.


Technology is improving at an amazing rate and nursing has jumped on this bandwagon. Tele-nursing is a process by which nurses offer treatment and help over the phone or by other forms of media. For example, a tele-nurse may be used to help a poison-control desk. A number of insurance companies hire these specialist nurses. These nurses help to bring attention to serious problems and solve or give advice to problems that are not very serious.

Clinical trial nursing

Clinical trials are being conducted in almost every medical field possible. Doctors and researchers who conduct these trials need highly trained staff and they need a team of nurses to help with the procedures. These nurses often help with the selection process by filtering the applicants and seeing who is eligible for trials. They often help by taking regular blood samples from patients and monitoring participants continuously.

Occupational nursing

As an occupational nurse, you could work in a wide range of areas from developing health programs to formulating policies and improving workplace hygiene. Occupational nurses also get involved with human resource management as well as compliance issues and legal issues regarding health. Another sub-field of occupational nursing is travel health nursing. This field deals with providing care to people who engage in regular long distance travel.