What Else Can I Do with a Nursing Degree?

If you’re having difficulty finding a job as a nurse, there are other ways to put your degree to work.

These days, a nursing degree doesn’t necessarily equate to a job right out of school.

Employers looking for experience and older nurses delaying retirement have made it more difficult for the next generation of nurses to find work after graduation. However, all is not lost and there are options.

With intricate knowledge of the health care system, your nursing skills could prove useful in alternative careers you may not have thought of.

How Your Nursing Skills Can Help

A nurse needs to possess certain qualities to succeed and many of these characteristics can be useful in other fields. A few important attributes include:

  • Problem-solving skills
  • Excellent attention to detail
  • Organized
  • Team player

What else can you do with these skills? The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) states that some nurses find work at blood drives, health screenings, in research and consulting. Here’s a look at some of your other non-nursing options:

Medical Writer

If you’ve got a way with words, you may find a thriving career as a medical writer. Your medical background gives you the expertise to write in a variety of mediums, including:

  • White papers
  • Online articles
  • Textbooks
  • Grant proposals
  • Marketing materials

This is a career where your attention to detail is important. Strong grammar and spelling proficiency is imperative as are solid research skills.

How to Get Started

Many medical writers work as freelancers which gives you flexibility and a way to be your own boss. However, be prepared to spend a lot of time marketing yourself at first in order to secure regular work.

Another option is to find employment with a health care facility or marketing agency. This can give you a bit more job security and benefits.

What you can do:

  1. Create a portfolio of your work, ideally with health care writing samples.
  2. If you don’t have enough material to create a portfolio, start a blog. If you’re interested in a certain area of nursing, carve out a niche and market yourself as an expert in the topic.
  3. Join professional organizations such as the American Medical Writers Association.

Patient Advocacy

While many roles in public health require a degree in psychology or social work, many nurses with bachelor’s degrees or higher are turning to patient advocacy as a full-time career.

As a trained nurse, you’re accustomed to making patient care your top priority. Problem-solving skills and a supportive nature are two of the most important qualities you’ll need in this role.

Some of your duties might include:

  • Communicate to patients and their families about procedures
  • Explain patient rights
  • Support people of varying backgrounds

Some nurses who go into patient advocacy open their own firms, but if that doesn’t interest you, these companies can still be a good place to look for a job.

How to Get Started

  1. Decide on the area of health care you plan to advocate for, particularly if you don’t have a nursing specialization.
  2. Brush up on your communication skills. Enroll in seminars offering help with public speaking, diplomacy and general communication practices.


It may seem like the furthest career path from nursing, but pharmaceutical or medical device sales is not an uncommon career choice for people with nursing degrees. Since you have the medical expertise, as well as familiarity with certain medical equipment, you can provide knowledgeable explanations to potential buyers.

If you enjoy talking to people, have a knack for networking and are thick-skinned, a sales position may provide a good salary and the potential for career advancement.

How to Get Started

  1. Include any previous sales experience on your resume.
  2. Consider earning the voluntary Certified National Pharmaceutical Representative (CNPR) certification. You’ll need to complete a training program as part of the process.
  3. Stay up to date on the latest developments on pharmaceuticals and medical devices.

While these are just a few non-clinical career options, take solace in knowing you may find opportunities available to nurses of all experience levels and specializations.