10 Places You Can Work as a Registered Nurse

Submitted by admin on Thu, 04/18/2024 - 15:43
Two nurses collaborating on a patient chart

Many people only associate nurses with hospitals and doctor’s offices. But registered nurses work everywhere that patients need care —which means they work in all kinds of work environments. They can be found working in almost every healthcare setting, from the emergency room to the dialysis clinic to the school nurses’ office. Nurses may even work from their own homes doing telehealth consultations. 

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, nurses held 3.2 million jobs in 2022. Over 40% worked in settings other than public or private hospitals. That same year, nurses earned a median annual salary of $81,220—over $30,000 more than the average American worker. 

Industry experts predict that there will be a nursing shortage of 63,720 nurses within the next ten years. This shortage, combined with the wide array of working environments available for registered nurses, makes nursing a stable and desirable profession in terms of job outlook. Let’s look more closely at the work nurses do and where they do it. 


Places you can work as a nurse 


1. Hospitals

There are plenty of nursing jobs available outside of hospitals—but hospitals still employ more nurses than any other healthcare setting. Hospital RNs typically have a specialty that determines where they usually work, such as the intensive care unit, maternity ward, emergency room, pediatric care, or oncology.

Nurses in hospitals usually work in shifts to ensure patients have coverage round-the-clock. This can make for a flexible schedule that many nurses appreciate. An RN license is usually the only educational requirement to start working in a hospital. More and more hospitals prefer nurses with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) to fill open positions.


2. Urgent care 

Urgent care facilities are outpatient facilities that help patients who need care for a non-life-threatening medical situation. These care centers are often open when the regular doctor’s office isn’t and are located in central, convenient locations. They are staffed by a team of healthcare professionals, including doctors, nurse practitioners, and registered nurses. 

Working conditions for nurses in urgent care facilities will appeal to many RNs. Nurses at urgent care centers may assess a patient, take vitals, and perform simple diagnostic tests for common illnesses like strep or the flu. The work can be fast-paced and you may see a lot of patients in one day, but it is not likely to be as stressful as something like a hospital emergency room.


3. Physicians’ offices

Physicians' offices employ RNs to help assess patients, take vitals, document medical histories, perform diagnostic testing, and perform other responsibilities. Private practices often have several nurses on staff, and normal 9-5 business hours tend to be observed. Nurses working at some practices are required to work early evenings or some weekends. They may also perform many administrative tasks, such as appointment scheduling, scanning, and data entry. 

Nurses working at a physician’s office can develop long-term relationships with patients, which many find rewarding. An RN license is usually the minimum requirement to practice nursing in a physician’s office, but additional requirements may vary according to your state and the office’s specialty. 


4. Public Health Clinics 

A public health clinic is an outpatient medical facility funded by the local, state, or federal government. These clinics provide a range of care to their communities, including basic primary care services, preventative care, and educational initiatives. Family planning clinics and community health centers are examples of these working environments for registered nurses. 

RNs who work at public health clinics are often able to serve underprivileged or under resourced communities, which gives many a sense of care and purpose. Entry-level positions may require that RNs have a BSN due to government or public health agency mandates. 


5. Schools

Registered nurses who work in educational settings can perform health assessments and screenings, refer patients to specialized care providers, and provide first aid/emergency care. School nurses also serve to assist in supporting public health initiatives and improving health literacy. 

Nearly every educational facility must have at least one nurse on site from pre-kindergarten to post-grad. In 2022, over 65,000 nurses worked in schools.

Nurses who work in schools can develop ongoing relationships with students and be a source of comfort and compassion in the halls of learning. RNs may also enjoy working hours that align with the academic calendar, including summers off and built-in breaks for annual holidays. Many schools require their nurses to have a BSN in addition to first aid and CPR certifications.


6. Home Healthcare 

RNs serve an essential role in offering home healthcare services. These nurses provide comfort and skilled care to individuals in their homes. Patients who need this type of care may be living with a disability that limits their mobility, aging in place, or facing a life-limiting diagnosis. Responsibilities often include managing medications, preventing infection, wound care, monitoring vital signs, and checking in with other members of a patient’s care team. 

Registered nurses who work in home healthcare offer much-needed respite and relief for family members and other loved ones who act as caretakers. Some nurses also enjoy the one-on-one nature of this type of nursing work. The schedule of home healthcare can also be exceptionally flexible compared to other working conditions for nurses. Home healthcare may require employees to own or have access to a reliable source of transportation.


7. Telehealth 

Some RNs can work from home by providing telehealth care through their employer. This may include assessing symptoms and offering virtual consultations through a video conferencing platform, remote monitoring of vital signs through wearable health devices, and virtual medication management. 

RNs practicing telehealth will typically need to collaborate with other members of a healthcare team to ensure that patients are receiving the care they need. Many RNs enjoy the scheduling flexibility that working from home offers and the ability to skip their commute. Some telehealth job opportunities will require additional coursework or certifications in telehealth technologies. They will also typically look for a candidate with several years of job experience with in-person patients. 


8. Insurance and Legal Settings

Nursing expertise is extremely valuable beyond the medical setting. There are dozens of industries that need RNs to work as consultants as part of their work. Legal firms hire nurses to offer their expertise and testimony for medical malpractice, personal injury cases, worker’s compensation, and other healthcare-related litigation. Similarly, insurance companies hire nurses to look over claims, help make authorization decisions, and analyze medical records. 

This type of nursing work typically requires several years of on-the-job experience in the clinical setting. These employers may prefer advanced degrees in public health management or law and health policy. 


9. Occupational Workplaces

Not all nurses wear scrubs. Sometimes, they even wear hard hats. Occupational health nurses (OHNs) work on construction sites, in office buildings, and at workplace-managed clinics serving first responders. They may also work in hospitals or other healthcare settings. OHNs identify hazards and provide health education for workers on the risks they face in their work. They are experts on health and safety within their specific organization. They also manage individual cases and can provide crisis care after a workplace accident. 

OHNs typically have a BSN degree. Often, they obtain an advanced degree in a field such as public health management or public health policy. These healthcare professionals can also become certified in occupational or environmental health nursing. 


10. Rehab Facilities 

After a major medical event, such as a stroke, a person may still need high-level, hands-on care for some time. They may need assistance using the restroom safely, managing their medication, and attending therapy appointments. These patients will often spend time in a rehabilitation facility. 

These facilities employ nurses who can assist with a patient’s daily needs while they are on the road to strength and independence. Rehabilitation facilities can be inpatient or outpatient; they may be associated with a hospital network or they can be standalone clinics. 

Some nurses appreciate the rehab work environment because of the opportunity to work one-on-one with patients, follow a consistent schedule, and see individuals make progress and “graduate” as they regain independence. A BSN degree is typically preferred, and nurses with a few years of rehab work experience can take an exam to obtain a Certified Registered Rehabilitation Nurse (CRRN) certification. 


How do you become a nurse? 

If any—or several—of these workplace options sound like an exciting fit for you, you can take the first step toward becoming a nurse today. And you may be able to start a job in your new field much sooner than you might think. 

An Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) degree allows individuals with a bachelor’s degree in another field to leverage their credits and move quickly through nursing school. Most ABSN programs can be completed in two years or less. You can even get an excellent nursing education from home. There are dozens of fully-accredited online programs with engaged faculty and multiple streams of student support to offer a hands-on educational experience. 

To find the right program, fill out our form below. One of our university advisors will get in touch to help you determine the best way to get started on your path to a career in nursing.