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Not Sure You Can Sustain An Entire Career As A Nurse? What Are Your Alternatives?

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If you've been trained and certified as a registered nurse (RN) or licensed practical nurse (LPN) and are beginning to feel the long-term physical effects of a job that requires you to be on your feet and alert throughout a twelve-hour shift, you may be wondering what else you can do with your degree that may be a bit less physically taxing. Fortunately, your nursing licensure can be an extremely useful tool in your employment arsenal, and you're likely to be able to find an enjoyable and lucrative job that you'll be able to continue performing for years without developing joint issues or the other problems that can go hand in hand with a highly physical nursing career. Read on to learn more about the career alternatives available that won't require you to undertake additional education or extensive on-the-job training.

Assisted living manager

With Baby Boomers beginning to hit their Social Security years, the demand for assisted living facilities is expected to skyrocket over the next few decades. Just as these facilities will need skilled nursing professionals to provide examinations and hands-on care when needed, they need managers who have a depth of nursing and medical knowledge and the organizational ability to keep a number of balls in the air at once. 

If you've always gravitated toward leadership roles and are able to quickly switch from task to task without becoming distracted or frazzled, becoming an assisted living manager may be a good career change. In this position, you'll directly supervise employees (from nurses to insurance coordinators and payroll managers), troubleshoot problems, and maintain responsibility for keeping your facility running smoothly. 

Assisted living managers aren't the highest-paid of medical professionals, earning an average of only around $41,000 per year -- however, many are eligible for bonuses based on the facility's performance that can increase this salary by a sizable percentage. If you think this may be for you, you should check out assisted living employment opportunities in your area. 

Nurse midwife

Another growing niche in the nursing field is midwifery -- any many expectant mothers who choose to use a midwife are interested in experiencing childbirth outside the confines of a hospital. By working as a nurse midwife, you'll be able to attend and assist at home births or work at a freestanding birthing center rather than in a hospital. You'll also usually be able to set your own hours, avoiding the twelve-hour back-to-back shifts that can often wear on nurses.

Nursing midwives have a great deal of flexibility in the job search -- if you'd prefer to work as an employee with benefits, you may want to investigate birthing centers or agencies that send nurses to patients' homes, while those who are happy working independently may want to just take on clients as your schedule permits. As you provide midwife services for more and more clients, you'll often find yourself getting most of your referrals by word of mouth. 

Quality improvement coordinator (QIC) 

A quality improvement coordinator works in an administrative capacity at a healthcare facility. Although this position bears some similarities to an assisted living manager, it can cover a wider range of healthcare facilities (from hospitals to dentist's offices) and generally focuses more on improving processes and workflow rather than the day-to-day management of employees.

Those who enjoy making current processes more efficient or working toward technological solutions to the problems your fellow employees face may find this job personally and professionally rewarding, and with an average salary in the mid-$60,000s per year, you'll be able to make a comfortable living as well. Most QICs are directly employed by a healthcare facility, although some may opt to work as a consultant for practices that are struggling to keep up with an increasing patient load.