Where the Jobs Are: Nursing Career Expert Donna Cardillo Looks at the Market

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Donna CardilloEver considered working as a nurse on a cruise ship? That’s just one of the unusual career options for nurses. We spoke with Donna Cardillo, RN, CSP, also known as the Inspiration Nurse, who says traditional nursing is in part going by the wayside, but there are many new opportunities opening up. “Nursing is the most diverse profession on the planet, and nursing will take you anywhere you want to go,” she says.

Cardillo is the author of “The Ultimate Career Guide for Nurses: Practical Strategies for Thriving at Every Stage of Your Career.” She works with new student nurses, nurses contemplating a midcareer change, and nurses ready to retire and pursue a second career. “There’s an assumption that all nurses work in hospitals, and it’s not true,” says Cardillo.

Nursing career options

The seismic shifts taking place in health care mean less people are going to the hospital, and when they do, they’re not staying as long. As a result, nursing jobs are moving away from hospitals to the home and the community. Here are some of the venues where Cardillo sees opportunities for nurses.

Ambulatory care

Health care is being delivered in more outpatient settings, such as clinics, large medical practices and ambulatory care centers. Coupled with this outpatient trend is an increased emphasis on wellness and prevention. Cardillo says in the past people didn’t interact with the health system until they were sick or dying. Now health care providers treat people with chronic illnesses by educating them on healthy behaviors as a way to minimize hospital visits.

“There’s an assumption that all nurses work in hospitals, and it’s not true.”

Home care

Home care is a growing industry because there’s also a movement to keep the senior population out of nursing homes and in their own homes. A home care nurse helps elderly clients coordinate visits with health care providers and manage their medications. In addition to elder care, nurses may be care managers or patient advocates and work with critically or chronically ill patients to manage health needs and providers.

Nonclinical nursing jobs

In addition to clinical nursing roles moving away from hospitals, nurses also are finding opportunities to shift away from bedside nursing to nonclinical roles.

Informatics nurses

An informatics nurse combines computer science with nursing science to manage the information flow in medical facilities. “You can’t just have a technical person doing informatics — you need someone who has the nursing background,” says Cardillo.

Telephone nurses

Insurance companies hire nurses to advise patients either in a triage capacity or in a less-urgent advice nurse capacity.  Telephone triage nurses answer calls from patients who need immediate answers on care. The triage nurse asks questions, evaluates the situation over the phone and offers the best solution for care, whether it be a visit to the emergency room or doctor’s office. Advice nurses provide health information over the phone and counsel patients on their particular health issue.

“Nursing is the most diverse profession on the planet, and nursing will take you anywhere you want to go.”

Wellness nurses

There are many opportunities for nurses in wellness and health promotion. Some nurses are self-employed health coaches and some work for an insurance company or corporate wellness company. These nurses deliver educational classes and work with clients one-on-one on stress management and wellness behaviors.

Health care consulting

Nurse executives might work for a health care consulting company, such as Price Waterhouse Coopers, and work with a hospitals on projects. These consultants work with the hospital’s senior management on any number of issues, from staffing policies to nursing retention plans. Another big opportunity for nurse managers is doing surveys and accrediting hospitals and other medical facilities.  The Joint Commission hires a lot of health care professionals for this role, Cardillo says.

Legal nurses

A number of nurses also enter the legal arena and become nurse attorneys or legal nurse consultants. These nurses work with clients and families on personal injury or medical malpractice cases. They may also serve as expert witnesses. In addition to attorneys, legal nurse consultants are hired by insurance companies, hospitals and pharmaceutical companies.

Nurse entrepreneurs

Cardillo says a growing number of nurses are starting businesses. The upside of a nurse owning and operating a health care business is care providers are compassionate and customer service-oriented people. Some of the businesses nurses start include:

  • Adult day service centers
  • Assisted living facilities
  • Sick child day care centers
  • Health coaching or education businesses

The bottom line is opportunities abound for nurses who are looking for alternatives to the traditional hospital nursing job.

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