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The Most Common Career Change For Nurses

Micah Fikes
Micah Fikes on June 18, 2024

Although it’s difficult to pinpoint the most common career change for nurses when these nobel professionals decide it’s time to switch directions, there are several rewarding, alternative paths that they pursue.


Many choose to stay within healthcare, opting for administrative, sales or consultative roles, while others leave medical care altogether and instead choose another field where they can make a difference.


Nursing can be a difficult profession, with long hours and high stress. Some decide it’s best for their well-being to switch careers, while others simply want to pursue a different challenge or passion. Here are some of the most common career changes nurses make when they choose to transition.


Community Health Worker



Community health workers serve as a bridge between healthcare providers and the community, helping individuals access services, understand healthcareer change for nurses issues and adopt healthier lifestyles.


Required Education: The education requirements for community health workers vary. Some positions require only a high school diploma and on-the-job training, while others may require a certificate or associate degree in health education or a related field. Some states also offer certification for community health workers.


Why Nurses Choose to Transition to This Career: Community health workers often work in underserved areas, focusing on preventive care and public health education. Nurses may choose to transition to this role because it allows them to leverage their medical knowledge in a community setting, providing direct, impactful support to populations in need. In addition to working with patients, this career can offer more regular hours and less physical strain compared to bedside nursing.


Nurse Informaticist



Nurse informaticists work at the intersection of healthcare and information technology, focusing on the management and communication of health information. 


Required Education: Typically, a nurse informaticist needs a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) along with experience in healthcare informatics. Advanced positions may require a master’s degree in health informatics or a related field, and certification in nursing informatics is often preferred.


Why Nurses Choose to Transition to This Career: Nurse informaticists help design and implement electronic health records (EHR) systems and train healthcare staff on their use. Nurses may choose to transition to this profession due to their interest in technology and data management. This role allows them to improve healthcare delivery systems and patient outcomes, often providing a more stable and less physically demanding work environment.


Pharmaceutical Sales Representative



Pharmaceutical sales representatives promote and sell medications to healthcare professionals. 


Required Education: Pharmaceutical sales representatives typically need a bachelor’s degree in a field such as biology, chemistry or business. Some positions may require additional training in pharmacology or sales.


Why Nurses Choose to Transition to This Career: Pharmaceutical sales representatives must understand complex medical information and communicate it effectively to doctors and pharmacists. Nurses often transition to this role because their clinical background allows them to understand and explain the benefits and uses of medications better than those without a medical background. This career offers the potential for higher earnings, flexible schedules and the opportunity to travel.


Legal Nurse Consultant



Legal nurse consultants work with attorneys on medical-related cases, using their clinical expertise to analyze medical records, provide informed opinions,career changes for nurses and testify in court if necessary.


Required Education: To become a legal nurse consultant, a nurse needs to be a registered nurse (RN) with an active license. Additional certification as a Legal Nurse Consultant Certified (LNCC) can be beneficial and is often preferred.


Why Nurses Choose to Transition to This Career: Nurses may transition to this profession to use their medical knowledge in a legal setting, offering a new challenge and the chance to impact the legal process. This role typically involves less direct patient care and can provide more regular working hours.


Healthcare Social Worker



Healthcare social workers assist patients in navigating the complexities of the healthcare system, providing support, counseling and resources to help them manage their conditions.


Required Education: Healthcare social workers generally need a bachelor’s degree in social work (BSW), but many positions, especially those involving clinical work, require a master’s degree in social work (MSW). Licensure is also required in most states.


Why Nurses Choose to Transition to This Career: Healthcare social workers work closely with patients and their families to address psychosocial issues and coordinate care. Nurses may find this role appealing as it allows them to support patients in a different capacity, focusing on emotional and social aspects of care rather than physical. This profession can offer a less physically demanding environment and the opportunity to build long-term relationships with clients.



Rehabilitation Center Therapist



Rehabilitation center therapists and workers help patients recover and improve their physical, mental and emotional well-being after injuries or illnesses.


Required Education: Rehabilitation therapists typically need a bachelor’s degree in a related field, but many positions, especially for physical therapists, require a doctorate in physical therapy (DPT). Occupational therapists generally need a master’s degree in occupational therapy. Rehabilitation workers may require a certificate or associate degree in a rehabilitation-related field.


Why Nurses Choose to Transition to This Career: Rehabilitation center therapists develop treatment plans, conduct therapy sessions and track patient progress. Nurses may choose to transition to these roles to continue providing hands-on care in a more specialized setting. This career can offer more regular hours and the opportunity to see significant improvements in patients’ quality of life over time.





Teachers educate students at various levels, from elementary school to higher education. Transitioning to teaching allows nurses to keep making a difference by shaping the future of healthcare through educating and inspiring the next generation, some of whom may be future medical professionals.


Required Education: To become a teacher, you usually need a bachelor’s degree, with many choosing to get their degree in education. However, if you have already earned your nursing degree, you may be hesitant about returning to college to earn another four-year degree.


The good news is there are educator preparation programs (EPP) that provide the necessary training needed to earn a teaching certificate if you have a bachelor’s degree in any major. 


Why Nurses Choose to Transition to This Career: Nursing professionals often transition into teaching roles within nursing schools or health education programs, where they can use their clinical expertise to train the next generation of nurses. 


This transition allows nurses to share their knowledge and experience in a structured educational setting. Teaching can offer a more predictable schedule, academic environment and the satisfaction of mentoring future healthcare professionals.


If this sounds like the right career path for you, it’s important to reach out to a reputable alternative teacher certification program. Choosing an experienced and certified program is important since the Texas Education Agency requires that you enroll in a program on this approved list


Once you are accepted into an EPP and choose the subject area you want to teach, you’ll need to complete certification requirements that include passing a national criminal background check, training and testing. As an intern, you must complete 300 hours of required training to receive a standard teaching certificate. Of these 300 hours, the state requires that 30 are dedicated to the observation of a certified teacher in the classroom environment. This is often known as “field-based experience” or “student teaching” and will take place in K-12 schools.


After completing the requirements to earn your Texas teaching license, you can begin your new career while continuing to make a difference in the community.


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Written by Micah Fikes

Micah is the Director of Curriculum & Technology. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in British Literature, from the University of North Texas and a Master of Arts in Teaching, from Louisiana College. In his previous career, Micah served for 14 years as a banker and bank manager. For the majority of this period, Micah managed the Downtown Fort Worth location of Frost Bank. In 2005, Micah finally surrendered to his true calling to be an educator. After a brief, but fulfilling term teaching high school English at Flower Mound High School in Lewisville ISD, Micah went to work for the family business, training teachers.

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