Qualified nurses are in great demand for work in many different settings. This can open up opportunities to work in challenging and interesting places and even to travel the world.
There are a variety of nursing specializations, but all nursing roles involve giving the best possible healthcare and positively impacting patient outcomes. Nurses have medical knowledge, clinical skills, and experience, which makes them valuable assets to any organization.
One of the many opportunities open for nurses is becoming a travel nurse, but is travel nursing worth it? For people who already have a degree and would like to become a nurse, Marymount University delivers an online Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree program, which is a 16-month course.
Many nursing job possibilities can take a nurse’s career in a new and unexpected direction. With an array of different roles to consider, who knows where nursing could take you?
Oil rig nurse
Oil rig nurses work where oil drilling and extraction take place and provide healthcare to oil rig workers. The most common environment is offshore oil rigs, where oil is extracted from the bottom of the ocean. They are often the only medical staff on the rig, so they work independently, make diagnoses and plan treatment on their own. Working on an oil rig is dangerous, and injuries are widespread among oil rig workers. Falls are very common, and so are broken legs. Workers can have cuts or lacerations, and the chemicals or fuel on rigs can cause burns.
An oil rig nurse will deal with illness and injury that occurs onsite: administering drugs, dressing wounds, checking blood pressure, and giving anti-tetanus injections. They can be called to attend emergencies anywhere on the rig. Medical care can be performed in hazardous conditions, with high winds and strong waves, and protective gear is essential.
They will have responsibility for maintaining medical equipment and supplies. They will complete a daily medical log and maintain medical records. They will liaise with an onshore doctor and the offshore installation manager. They will organize medical transfers to a hospital when a worker needs immediate treatment.
Oil rig nurses typically spend two weeks offshore and two weeks onshore and travel by helicopter to the rig. When they are offshore, the nurse works 12-hour shifts but will be on call 24 hours a day for emergencies and first aid. The nurse will have an office which is next to the sick bay.
Personal qualities needed by an oil rig nurse are to be an independent worker, able to get on with all types of people, and observant and decisive. They need to be physically fit, as they will be standing or moving for long periods.
An oil rig nurse would need previous nursing experience, preferably in an emergency room or with acute care.
Prison nurses work in a unique and diverse environment. Prisons are a challenging place to work with nurses delivering healthcare to patients from diverse cultural backgrounds who are vulnerable and have complex health needs. The work can vary, allowing nurses to pick up additional skills and develop knowledge.
The types of prisons nurses work in include young offenders, high security, and women-only. Nurses work with a multidisciplinary team, including general practitioners, pharmacists, dentists, physiotherapists, paramedics, prison staff, and psychiatrists. The work involved can be minor injuries and illness, substance abuse, mental health, emergency care, and end-of-life care.
Prison nurses need patience, resilience, and good communication skills. Compassion, problem-solving, and being able to prioritize are crucial. They also need conflict management skills and knowledge of the criminal justice system.
Prison nurses can specialize in an area of prison nursing, such as substance abuse. They can further their career in management, education, and research.
Dean describes his work as a nurse in a prison. When he started working at the prison, he quickly realized that many prisoners have problems with mental health and substance abuse. He thinks it is essential to meet the health needs of prisoners so they can safely return to society. Dean says, “It is a challenge to work with some of the most marginalized – and often stigmatized – people. It is an opportunity for me to make a real difference”.
He describes a typical day as carrying out mental health and risk assessments. He writes up care plans and discusses treatment plans with patients, administers medication, writes reports, arranges discharges and follows up. He enjoys doing a job where every day is different, and there is great teamwork among the staff.
Dean finds this work worthwhile when he sees an improvement in a prisoner’s health. He accepts each patient as an individual and has a non-judgmental approach. He says, “Winning the trust of these often disadvantaged patients brings its rewards.”
School nurses play an important role in schools and this work can suit those who enjoy working with children. Nurses make sure children are safe and healthy. They provide first aid for minor injuries or illnesses and give daily medication to those who need it.
School nurses work to improve health and well-being, reduce inequalities, and ensure every child has the best start in life.
School nurses use their clinical judgment to identify health needs early, recognizing risks and ways to protect children. They intervene promptly to prevent issues from getting worse.
School nurses work in partnership with general practitioners, social care professionals, health visitors, allied professionals, and voluntary services.
The day-to-day work of a school nurse can include the following:
- Support safeguarding arrangements and ensure the child is heard.
- Assess children’s mental health and well-being and promote mental health with approaches for prevention and early intervention.
- Carry out assessments to recognize risk-taking behavior.
- Deliver sex and health education.
- Offer support to children and families to manage lifestyle concerns such as weight and how to keep fit.
- Quickly recognize vulnerability, such as being a child in care.
- Support children who have long-term health needs.
- Help children to develop self-care and understand how to access health services.
Schools require qualified nurses and usually want nurses who have a few years of clinical experience.
A benefit can be not having to work weekends or during the school holidays.
Career progression could include management roles, teaching in the community, or being a lecturer or researcher at a university.
Cruise ship nurse
Nurses can work on cruise ships, providing medical care to guests and crew while the ship sails worldwide. The ships can hold a few thousand guests with a crew on top of that.
Nurses are needed whenever someone becomes ill, and they can work odd hours. They usually work 12-hour shifts but are on call 24 hours a day.
Most cruise ships want qualified nurses with three years of nursing experience. Experience in acute care, emergency, or intensive care settings would be desirable for this kind of nursing. Having a second language can also be an advantage, although not essential.
The work can involve treating common problems such as seasickness, sunburn, or food poisoning. More severe cases could be patients in critical care or cardiac arrest. The nurse will look after the patient until they can be transferred to the nearest hospital on land, which could be three hours away by sea.
The work is not like general nursing, as no specialist doctors or hospitals are available. Nurses will work in a team with other nurses and doctors. The bigger cruise lines have full medical facilities, including laboratories and X-ray equipment.
This is an opportunity to work while you travel and see new places worldwide. You will meet people and make friends from around the world. Destinations include Australia, New Zealand, the Caribbean Islands, Africa, and more.
Nurses learn a lot from using the advanced technology on board and demonstrate that they can adapt to working in a unique situation. These attributes could make them appeal to future employers.
The salaries are not high, but money can be saved as room and board and meals are paid for. Contracts are usually for six months, so the opportunity is flexible.
Military nurses provide general and specialist nursing care to soldiers and civilians. On operations, they work as part of a multidisciplinary team.
During peacetime, army nurses will work in military clinics and hospitals at home, caring for military personnel, military retirees, and their dependents. During wartime, army nurses provide medical care in the challenging conditions of a field hospital abroad and work in and around conflict zones and near battlefronts.
Nurses have the opportunity to specialize in many areas, including emergency nursing, critical care, burns and plastics, sexual health, and more. They use cutting-edge technology and techniques. Professional development is ongoing and is funded by the army up to and beyond MSc level.
An army nurse should be in excellent physical health and able to make life-saving decisions quickly. They need very good communication skills, the ability to adapt to change, and high stamina and endurance. The work is physically and mentally challenging, and nurses often work in high-stress and dangerous situations.
You will travel, play sports for the army, and do adventure training, which includes paragliding, scuba diving, kayaking, and parachuting.
Some examples of army nurse experience in the field:
- Working with a medical helicopter team.
- Survival training in the Belize jungle.
- Given healthcare to tribes in Kenya.
- Deployed with medical regiments.
Summer camp nurse
Summer camps for children employ nurses to be responsible for the health care of the campers and staff. Some camps are for specific age groups, and others are for children with special needs. Camps can be in various settings such as country, city, mountain, and at the beach.
Medical care can include giving out medication, dealing with ill or injured campers, checking for allergies, and dealing with medical emergencies. Nurses also deal with routine injuries and illnesses, such as cuts, scrapes, grazes, colds, and sore throats. They are prepared for anything, such as asthma attacks, insect bites, and allergic reactions.
The nurse reviews each child’s medical history and organizes the health clinic and medication. They manage paperwork, anticipate health risks, and order medical supplies. They keep records of any illness, injury, or incident.
Camp nurses participate in camp activities and events. They often give health workshops to campers and staff. These could range from eating well and keeping fit to drug and alcohol abuse.
Camp nurses often work alone and need the maturity to be responsible for young people’s care, well-being, and safety. They provide a safe environment for children to discuss health issues.
Work is often for two to six weeks in the school summer holidays. All expenses are paid, including accommodation and meals. Nurses work up to ten to twelve hours a day, and this can be in split shifts. They usually have one or two days off a week and often work weekends.
Disney has twelve parks in six resorts around the world, and they all employ nurses. A Disney nurse is a qualified nurse who provides healthcare to onsite Disney employees and visitors. Disney has first aid locations at all its parks and urgent response clinics in the site hotels.
Disney nurses work in various situations, from giving a painkiller for a headache to calling an ambulance because a guest has fallen and broken their leg. The primary role is to provide first aid when needed. Duties include cleaning and bandaging cuts and assessing for dehydration or heat-related conditions. In more serious situations, the nurse can also assess if emergency services are required and support the patient until help arrives.
Disney nurses must be patient and compassionate as some of their patients will be very young children. Visitors to the parks are from all over the world, so nurses also have to work around language difficulties and be aware of cultural traditions. Having strong critical thinking and problem-solving skills will help in this role.
It is a requirement for nurses to have at least three years of healthcare experience. Nurses should be physically fit to stand for long periods and respond quickly to emergencies.
A challenging and unusual nursing job is the role of a flight nurse. Flight nurses accompany patients while they are traveling by aircraft or helicopter. Flight nurses ensure patients are stabilized and ready for transfer and deal with any medical emergencies during the flight.
These patients usually have serious conditions that require them to be flown to a hospital for immediate treatment. Most of them need advanced critical care, and the flight nurse is responsible for their healthcare during transportation. They usually work with flight paramedics, doctors, or other nurses to provide basic and advanced life support and treatment for acute trauma.
Flight nurses also liaise with pilots who will adjust their flying methods to make the patient more comfortable. For example, if the patient should avoid changes in air pressure, the pilot can fly as low as possible so the air pressure does not change.
Flight nurses must have worked for three years in nursing with experience in a trauma setting such as accident and emergency or intensive care unit. Sometimes they will be asked to bring a patient home when they have been taken ill or injured on holiday.
Flight nurses must independently make fast decisions in stressful environments. The hours can be long, and they may have to leave for work at short notice and be away for up to five days at a time.
NASCAR (National Association for Stock Car Racing) is an American company that employs nurses to provide healthcare for drivers, crew members, officials, and spectators.
The racers drive at speeds nearing 200 mph, making the events very dangerous. To make drivers and spectators safer, NASCAR has added new safety measures and employed more medical staff.
Nurses keep detailed electronic medical histories for the drivers at each race. Nurses work in infield hospitals and treat minor and major medical emergencies such as foreign body removal from the eye, sutures, and traumas.
Nurses must sometimes deal with emergency medical situations, especially after a car crash. As a result, nurses must have experience in emergency, intensive care, cardiac, and trauma medical care. They are aware of local medical facilities and accompany patients if they are taken to a local hospital. They act as the patient’s advocate while also keeping the executive leadership informed.
The NASCAR season runs from February to November. Nurses travel to almost 30 racetracks around America and Canada.
The nursing team maintains communication with race teams, keeping up with progression through follow-up care and returns to competition.
In January each year, there is a NASCAR summit where medical staff share best practices for the coming season.
Nurses need the ability to remain calm and focused in a fast-moving environment. They must be alright to work in large crowds and with high noise levels. They need to be physically fit as they will often stand for the entire shift, and there can be a lot of walking.