Many nurses enter the field because they feel drawn to bedside caregiving. Sometimes, that attitude can change. Burnout, common among healthcare workers even prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, can become a real issue for nurses who constantly find themselves in tragic treatment scenarios.
Long hours or overnight shifts may also take a toll, even if nurses are still enjoying the direct patient care aspect of the career. Nurses with families may discover they're missing out on important activities or milestones like kids' soccer games or piano recitals.
Fortunately, opportunities for remote nursing work have grown. Non-bedside careers may seem elusive at first, but plenty of options exist for nurses who wish to pursue remote work.
A common misconception about "working from home" is that productivity suffers, thanks to home-life distractions or a lack of motivation. Research has shown that individuals who work remotely are generally more productive than their in-office counterparts.
An OWL Labs study showed that on-site meetings take away from productivity. It also revealed that many remote workers put in more than 40 hours per week, but they do so because they truly enjoy what they do, which is another reason many individuals prefer remote work: job satisfaction.
What Opportunities Exist for Remote Nursing?
If you're thinking about a shift from direct patient care to a remote nursing career, here are some different paths to consider.
1) Telephonic Case Manager. As one of the most common remote careers within nursing, case management entails overseeing patients' care plans. It involves ensuring patients receive everything they need for successful outcomes — from primary care to resources and referrals. Average Salary: $72,740 per year
2) Virtual Clinical Research Associate (CRA). CRAs work with pharmaceutical research. Duties include recruiting, monitoring studies, budgeting and reporting. This position requires a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree or experience as a Clinical Research Coordinator (CRC). Average Annual Salary: $84,676 per year
3) Remote Quality Improvement Nurse. This position has a "teaching" element to it as quality improvement nurses often instruct staff on proper documentation and coding practices. The work involves assessing hospitals' nursing record documentation for thoroughness and accuracy. Many of these jobs require quite a bit of travel, so it may not be a good fit for those who want to spend more time with their families. Average Salary: $74,425 per year
4) Remote Diabetic or Disease Educator. Nurse educators in this role work with patients on every aspect of their disease state in order to ensure proper disease understanding, care and routines and provide helpful resources. Average Salary: $70,190–86,189 per year
5) Virtual/Telehealth Triage Nurse. In this role, nurses work virtually with patients to determine the appropriate care strategy — if they should seek out medical attention or resources for injury or illness management. Many insurance companies offer this as part of their plans. Average Salary: $65,870 per year
6) Freelance Nursing Writers. For nurses who want to tap into their creativity, a writing job may be a perfect fit. These nurses compose content for training materials, test prep courses and instructional manuals. They also often work in content marketing — writing blogs, articles, e-books, white papers, case studies and brochure copy. They may even find a niche in "brand journalism," reporting on healthcare news for a healthcare entity. If freelance nursing writers find a higher level of success, there may also be opportunities in book writing or blogging at the "influencer" level. Average Salary: $68,045 per year (varies depending on position)
Strategies for Your Remote Nursing Work Search
Embarking on a new adventure is exciting but can also come with some trepidation. Before you begin your remote work search, keep these key points in mind.
Start where you are. There may be non-bedside positions within the healthcare facility you're already serving. This type of lateral move could be the simplest way to transition since you're already familiar with the organization and its processes — and they're already familiar with you. Gaining experience this way may then make a bigger leap less stressful.
Network among your peers and colleagues. Personal referrals and word of mouth are excellent ways to explore remote work options. Perhaps a pharma or medical device rep who frequents your office could keep an eye out for potential positions.
Utilize social media. Peruse sites like LinkedIn and Facebook to seek out like-minded nurses and join any relevant groups. The most important approach is to stay active and stay engaged. This isn't a casual scroll to catch up on your friends' latest antics; it's part of your job search.
Educate yourself on terminology. If you're repeatedly searching for a specific job title, you may be missing out on job posts simply due to semantics. For example, one organization may list an opening for a "nurse navigator," but you've been searching for "nurse educator"— even though both may entail similar responsibilities.
Don't limit yourself to a geographical area. The beauty of remote work is that many positions can be done from anywhere. So if there's an opening for a corporation in California, it's highly likely you'll be able to stay put in Michigan.
Try to be patient. Even if you have a ton of experience and a five-star resume, it may take a few interviews before you finally land a remote position. Focus on your research, keep your resume up to date and don't neglect networking.
Ready, Set, Go
As all industries are forced to rethink the workplace environment — largely due to the pandemic — remote work opportunities will continue to emerge. If working remotely appeals to you, there's no better time to jump in and start the journey.
Learn more about Eastern Michigan University's online RN to BSN program.
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