Top 5 places to look for jobs (outside the hospital)


If you’re like many nurses, especially new ones, you may instinctively be focusing on hospitals as potential employers.

However, with the stiff competition out there for these coveted openings, you may want to consider thinking outside the box. Here are five job-hunting targets that may just get you hired right away (or faster than you think!).

Air National Guard
If you’re attracted to the rush and fast pace of the OR and critical care — you may want to consider being an Air National Guard nurse. You may find yourself in the middle of the action during a natural disaster, civil emergency, or homeland crisis – situations where your skills are critical and your character can make all the difference. If you thrive on getting an adrenaline rush, here’s your chance to care for patients being airlifted out of disaster-stricken areas or saving lives in a field hospital in the aftermath of a hurricane. The Air National Guard has a variety of opportunities that allow nurses to stay close to home and serve their community, assessing the health needs of individuals as well as the population as a whole. You’ll even have the option of part-time service allowing you to gain new skills and experiences while keeping your civilian job.

Nursing Homes
Even if nursing homes weren’t your favorite in nursing school, you shouldn’t be quick to rule out this option. Nursing homes also hire utilization review registered nurses and case managers—positions that require an RN degree but don’t involve the drudgery of nursing home work. It’s true that some of these jobs require experience, but others don’t. Some nursing homes, especially smaller ones, are happy to train you on the job to fill these roles. Apply for MSDS, utilization or case management nursing home positions if you’re in need of a job right away.

In the rush to get a hospital job or possibly a job in a doctor’s office, you might have forgotten that there are a ton of clinics out there. With the wait times at hospitals, and with some insurance companies refusing to cover emergency room visits, patients are increasingly turning to clinics for medical attention.

A clinic is a great place for a new nursing grad to get a foot in the door. Also look into clinics for pain management, stroke survivors, heart attack victims, etc., that might be in your area and looking for help. Sometimes places don’t advertise an opening, so call and see if you can talk to an HR person. The worst they can say is that they have no openings.

Drug Rehabilitation Centers
Many drug rehab centers have to detox subjects, and guess what? They need an RN on duty to make sure the patient doesn’t seize or go into DTs, and to give meds. You might have overlooked places like this—who would think a drug and alcohol rehab center would need a nurse? Some places may require experience, but others won’t require anything more than your nursing license. It pays to be proactive: Bust out the yellow pages, look up all the drug rehab centers in your area and call them to see what their nursing status is. You just might get an interview.

Dialysis Centers
Many large companies perform dialysis treatments on patients seven days a week. These companies, such as DaVita, need registered nurses to man the dialysis machines and make sure the patients don’t go bad. You would need to monitor vital signs, the dialysis machine and the port to ensure it doesn’t clot off. If you have some experience in nursing, you’ll stand a better chance, but some dialysis companies take new grads and train them to run the machines. If your city is large enough, you may find many dialysis centers around to target for your search.

Rehabilitation Centers
After some patients are done at the hospital, they are quickly sent out to rehabilitation centers to recover. (In fact, you’ll sometimes find that insurance companies facilitate shipping patients out a little too soon.) People in rehabilitation centers can have trachs, vents, external fixators and a host of other interesting diagnoses for you to experience. Of course, they all need their meds and their therapy, and you would have an assignment, just as you would have on a medical-surgical floor. Although their status will be a little less acute, the patients will still be significantly ill. Most rehab centers prefer that you have experience, but don’t actually require it. Interview well, and you just might have a job.

This article is brought to you in partnership with the Air National Guard.

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Lynda Lampert

Lynda Lampert is a registered nurse and a certified third shift worker. She has worked with many different patient populations, including post-op open heart, post-op gastric bypass, active chest pain, congestive heart failure, poorly controlled diabetics and telemetry 'wonders'. She now focuses all of her effort on educating the populace -- both the nursing world and the normal folk -- through her web writing. She hopes one day to publish another romance novel, travel to England and become a web rock star. She feels she is on her way . . . mostly. You can learn more about Lynda and her work at

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5 Responses to Top 5 places to look for jobs (outside the hospital)

  1. DebiRN

    Hi, Longtime reader of your articles, first time posting a comment. I have to say I was disappointed to see Nursing Homes diluted this way. I speak for myself, but I went to school to do hands on care, not paperwork. Staff nursing in a nursing home is very rewarding. You are allowed the advantage of a longterm relationship with your clients. I wouldn’t trade this for anything. “Even if nursing homes weren’t your favorite in nursing school, you shouldn’t be quick to rule out this option. Nursing homes also hire utilization review registered nurses and case managers—positions that require an RN degree but don’t involve the drudgery of nursing home work…. Apply for MSDS, utilization or case management nursing home positions if you’re in need of a job right away.” The part that really gets me…don’t involve the drudgery of nursing home work. I read this over and over and sit shaking my head. I hope new grads aren’t too influenced by this article and give staff nursing at a nursing home a try. I wouldn’t do anything else, and have done all types of staff nursing. Thank you, Debi

    • Mrslundish

      Yes!! I was really bummed out by that! Skilled and Long-term care nursing is so wonderful! Totally has my heart! I love that you get to develop a relationship with the residents- for example: just the other day a resident was in respiratory arrest, when they were struggling all they wanted was their nurse to be by them, so the other nurses banded together to transfer this resident while their favorite nurse comforted them. Such a cool experience! I have spend 11 years in LTC, and am now in MDS and charge nurse, I wouldn’t trade it for the world! What a shame that we gat passed over as “drudgery”.

  2. GracyMae CNA

    Thanks for this list! I’ve thought about drug rehabs and clinics. My town just got a new hospital and a new cancer center, but I don’t graduate with my BSN until December of 2014! I am hoping something (by a miracle) will be available for me at these new facilities, but I am not really counting on it and will most definitely be applying pretty much EVERYwhere within 50 miles of my house. Do you know if there are temp agencies that can send you out on temporary assignments to varying facilities until you can get a permanent job? You know, like nonmedical-related temp agencies do? That would be a great way to get experience in many different settings!

  3. Emma

    You forgot to mention Nurse Call Centers. Nurses at call centers can triage symptoms, offer information and connect clients to community support systems. There are several in the USA and also most provinces in Canada has a system in place. It’s a great job and requires good listening skills. It is very interesting and also a great alternative for those nurses with disabilities that can no longer work in a hospital.

  4. harlean

    Best job outside a hospital? Cruise ship! Did it for five years. 4 months on 5 months off. Went around the world a couple of time, been to 8 of the 10 best beaches in the world, had my own cabin and could bring my husband. Yes, some cruises were nightmares – everything you see in the ED including homicides and suicides. But some cruises were a piece of cake – never called at night, on one died or had to be taken to a hospital on shore. Had patient and crew clinics every day but those were rotated among the three nurses. When the kids leave for college – we’re off again.

    Second best? Medic on a movie set. (Hey, movie people need medical care too!) Sometimes kind of boring and the hours can be horrific (as in 20 hour days) but the money and food were fabulous! And it could be pretty interesting, especially if there were stunts-treated a lot of broken bones. If a non-union picture, I could double-dip by being a set photographer. I even worked my way up to production manager on a couple of low budget films. Plus, you make great friends and there is a finished product to look at when you’re done.

    Third – medicolegal death investigator. More and more jurisdictions are hiring nurses to work out of the medical examiner or coroner’s office. Forensic nursing isn’t just sexual assault investigation. Some jurisdictions even have an RN as an elected Coroner. The hours can be tough and the pay isn’t that good. But, it is fascinating work whether you’re on the scene or in the autopsy suite. Assisting with autopsies taught me so much about emergency medicine. Actually seeing what happens inside really helps when you are in the ED and trying figure out what might be going on with your patient.