Changing Careers as a Nurse

carer change

Last month I was serving as a camp nurse for adult special needs camp along with another nurse who was an LPN.  She was fantastic and very dedicated to her work.  This woman was probably in her mid-forties.  During our time there she shared that she was determined to go back to school and get her BSN.  She is the major breadwinner for her family and just needed to find a way to make it happen. This made me think about nurses who want to change their careers.

How many times do you hear a nurse wanting to change his or her career? I could relate to her wish to take the next step.  At the age of 30, I went to school to become an LPN and not long afterward I knew I wanted to become an RN.   The best option for me was a 3-year diploma program but is no longer an option.  I shared that as an LPN she was ahead of many students both in medical knowledge and experience.

I have also changed my specialty several times in my 30 plus years of nursing.  Years ago statistically a person might change jobs 11 or 12 times before the age of 50.  Today one may change jobs about four times before the age of 32.  If changing your career is on the horizon it helps to know what job opportunities exist for someone with nursing experience.

You might ask why would a nurse change careers?  There is no one answer as to why a nurse would change careers.  Some decide that the nursing field has so many options they want to try something new.  Others decide they want to leave nursing all together and try something entirely different.  Luckily there are options for either decision a nurse would make.

Not ready to leave the nursing industry?

Changing career paths in the nursing industry is easy.  It is easy to get a job for someone who already has nursing experience.  Some of the options are teaching, nursing homes, or school nursing.  The need in any of these specialties is great. If you are looking to just move away from the hospital then one of the options would be something to think about.

Nursing Homes

Nursing homes and assisted living facilities have always had a demand for registered nurses.  As the baby boomers ag assisted living facilities and nursing homes have a greater need for RNs. If geriatrics is an area you don’t mind working this may be a great option for you.

I think that like hospice work one of the biggest challenges is becoming attached to patients/residents and losing them when they die. For some nurses who are tender-hearted, this could be a difficult job.


One of the reasons there is a nursing shortage today is the lack of teachers in nursing schools.  Nurses with years of experience make ideal teachers at a medical school. Teaching is a great way to share your nursing stories from years of experience as tools to teach future nurses and doctors.

School Nurse

I am currently on contract with a local school district to provide care for a special needs student in school. This job is one on one for a student who has a trach.  I love this job since I can continue my nursing career yet not in a hospital or clinic.

School nurses are always in demand.  The good thing about school nursing is all the holidays and summer vacation.  Your experience at a hospital or medical practice make you an ideal candidate for a school nurse.

Leaving the Nursing Industry

Sometimes nurses decide to leave their career as a registered nurse at a hospital or medical practice and try nursing outside of a facility.  Fortunately, there are a lot of job options for someone who chooses to do this.  Your nursing experience is a great foundation for these jobs any of these positions:

  • Legal Consultant
  • Expert Witness for Medical or Health Cases
  • Academic Health Writer
  • Forensic Nurse Consultant
  • Mortician
  • Midwife
  • Daycare Provider
  • Blog site content writer

Stay in the Hospital

Naturally, a nurse may also choose to stay in the hospital and obtain additional training.  Nursing experience is the perfect foundation to master other skills necessary for other jobs in a hospital or medical practice. In the hospital, you could become a lead nurse, a nurse case manager or director of nurses.

As a Director of Nurses (DON), you would oversee the nursing staff at a hospital or medical practice. As a nurse from one of the units, you would have walked in the shoes of the nurses you oversee. Your experience makes you a great candidate for this position.

Go Back to School

If I didn’t pique your interest in any of the above suggestions you might want to consider going back to school as another option. Going back to school to pursue a different career path is an option at any age. If you find you are becoming bored with your current career then this might be your next new career path.  Remember nursing is the most in-demand career.


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Cheryl Roby, RN

Cheryl J. Roby is a Registered Nurse and retired US Army Reserve Nurse Major. She has more than 30 years of nursing experience and 26 years of military experience in the Army Nurse Corp. During her nursing career, she has traveled as part of her military experience visiting many of the 50 states and to South Korea. She was trained as an Army Medic during the Vietnam era and later as an OR tec. She went on to become a Licensed Practical Nurse and then completed her nursing training as a Registered Nurse. She was then commissioned as an officer in the Army Reserves. She appreciated the challenge of working in various specialties and expanding her clinical and professional skill sets. Her time in the Army Reserves and California National Guard gave her the opportunity to travel to most of the 50 states and work in other medical facilities. During her career, she had the opportunity to work in several specialties to include, OR, Occupational Health, Hospice, Sexual Assault Team, Forensic/ Correctional Nurse, Nurse Case Manager for developmental disabilities, Parish Nursing as well as a Nurse Entrepreneur.

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