America has more than three million registered nurses, outnumbering physicians four to one. About 62 percent of active RNs work in hospitals, the place where they are most in demand and where they can hone their clinical skills by serving in different departments over time.
Graduates with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) often begin their careers in the hospital environment before moving on to other areas of healthcare, but these days some new graduates are skipping that step. They have found that starting a career in a non-hospital setting can be just as rewarding, and provide ample opportunity for growth and upward mobility.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, most non-hospital nursing jobs fall into these categories:
- Government (average salary $75,900)
- Ambulatory care services (average salary $66,300)
- Nursing and residential care facilities (average salary $62,320)
- Educational services (average salary $60,300)
Additional options exist for BSN RNs seeking a first job — or a career change — outside of the hospital setting:
The standard routine and daytime work schedule of a physician’s office suits some nurses’ lifestyles a bit better than the 24-hour rhythm of a hospital does. Nurses can also experience different clinical specialties by going this route, expanding their expertise. In addition to general medicine, nurses can pursue work in a number of fascinating fields, such as obstetrics and gynecology, endocrinology, pediatrics, cardiology, geriatrics, or oncology.
RNs at non-hospital diagnostic centers work with patients referred for a variety of testing and procedures, from basic lab work to CT scans or MRIs. They are part of a medical team that includes the technicians performing tests and procedures, and they help guide patient screening and communication to ensure diagnostic processes are conducted safely. If a medical emergency arises during testing, nurses are on hand to provide emergency care and help stabilize the patient for hospital transport.
Outpatient Facilities and Inpatient Treatment Centers
Some RNs prefer to work for non-hospital employers that provide outpatient surgical services or coordinated treatment and care. These include disease-specific facilities such as cancer or dialysis centers, occupational and physical rehabilitation programs, and specialty surgery facilities.
Many RNs also find work in non-hospital inpatient settings rewarding. These settings include private psychiatric facilities, public mental health facilities, addiction treatment centers, short-term rehabilitation facilities and hospice care centers.
Nurses working in community-based treatment and care settings can make an impact on the lives of many different types of patients. Nonprofit clinics and health services are designed to fill gaps in existing medical services, and help meet a community’s needs. Family health clinics, women’s centers and special facilities serving veterans, HIV patients, low-income residents or the homeless are a few settings where an RN’s skills and expertise are highly valued. Nurses may also have the opportunity to work in community outreach, serving a larger geographic area and providing needed medical and wellness resources.
RNs working for private pharmaceutical companies often have access to cutting-edge science and technology. They may work on clinical trials for drug development or in medical analytics, performing data-driven research on health trends. RNs can also use their expertise to become sales representatives working with doctors and hospitals.
Insurance companies hire RNs in a variety of capacities, as well. Nurse are vital to their patient support, mentoring efforts and wellness programs. They also work on claim authorizations, reviews and patient appeals.
Whether BSN-prepared nurses prefer hospital or non-hospital work, they have excellent options to choose from and many rewarding career paths they can explore in the field of nursing.
Learn more about the USI online RN to BSN program.