Bedside Nursing VS. Non-Bedside Nursing (Which One Should You Choose?)

Written By: Darby Faubion, RN, BSN, MBA

Are you a nurse trying to decide whether bedside nursing VS. non-bedside nursing is right for you? One of the things I love about nursing is you have so many options! You may find your niche in a bedside nursing role or feel that non-bedside nursing is the best fit to help you reach your goals. In this article, I will share some reasons why bedside nursing VS. non-bedside nursing may be the right choice to help you reach your career goals and give you insight into a few of the differences in these types of nursing.

Why You are More Suitable for Bedside Nursing vs. Non-Bedside Nursing?

(The following are the 7 reasons why you are more suitable for bedside nursing vs. non-bedside nursing.)

REASON #1: You Enjoy Direct Patient Contact

Once you determine that nursing is right for you and pursue your nursing degree, the next step is to decide which type of nursing job you want, bedside or non-bedside. There are many factors to consider. The main reason to consider a bedside nursing job is if you enjoy direct patient care. Whether you want to work in a hospital setting or specialty floor, such as ICU, Pediatrics, or OB/GYN, or if you prefer a long-term care facility, bedside nursing allows you to have daily interactions with patients, their families, and loved ones.

REASON #2: You Like the Option of Working Longer Shifts and Having More Days Off

One of the things I always loved about bedside nursing was that I had the option of working longer shifts, which meant having more days off. Many nurses work three 12-hour shifts and enjoy four days off each week. If you have a family with children or other responsibilities, this benefit could make considering bedside nursing worth it! Scheduling options vary from one facility to another. Still, it is worth discussing options with hiring managers or supervisors if you have a bedside job, want to work longer hours, or are willing to work late or hard-to-fill shifts.

REASON #3: You Want to Care for Patients When They Are in Need

Bedside nurses have the distinct privilege of caring for patients at a time when they are most vulnerable. While we do not wish for anyone to be ill or injured, it is a great feeling knowing that we can be there to help them through these challenging times. You never know when a few moments of your time, your compassion, or your persistence in getting the care they need could make a significant difference in their outcomes.

REASON #4: You Want an Active Role in Helping to Improve Patient Outcomes

As a bedside nurse, you will have firsthand knowledge of your patient’s status, which means you can be proactive in advocating for their needs. You will collaborate with your patients, their families, and the interdisciplinary team to develop and implement individualized care plans designed to meet your patient's needs. As you work together with your patients and the care team, you will be instrumental in helping to improve overall patient outcomes.

REASON #5: You Want a Clinical Role Where There is Always Room for Advancement

If you want a nursing role in a clinical setting where there is room to climb the career ladder, bedside nursing is a great place to start. As a bedside nurse, you will not only learn the clinical skills needed to provide quality patient care, but you will also develop professional relationships and learn to collaborate with others, which will be helpful as you prepare to catapult your career to new levels in the future.

REASON #6: You Enjoy the Fast-Pace of Hospitals or Other Clinical Settings

If you enjoy working in a fast-paced setting, a bedside role in nursing could be a good fit for you. You could find a bedside role in an emergency room or intensive care unit where you care for patients with a variety of health conditions. In these settings, you will use your knowledge and skills to provide hands-on care to patients experiencing urgent or critical healthcare needs, including illnesses or injuries.

REASON #7: You Enjoy Caring for Patients from Diverse Backgrounds

One of the things I love about bedside nursing is the diversity in patient populations. Even if you choose a specialty, such as pediatrics, geriatrics, or maternity nursing, you may still see vast differences in the cultures and beliefs of your patients. As a bedside nurse, you will learn about your patients, their backgrounds, and beliefs, including why some of them practice certain medical practices and others do not. As you learn about them, you will understand and learn to demonstrate cultural competence in your nursing practice.

Why You are More Suitable for Non-Bedside Nursing vs. Bedside Nursing?

(The following are the 7 reasons why you are more suitable for non-bedside nursing vs. bedside nursing.)

REASON #1: You Want to Work in a Nursing Role with More Independence

One of the great things about nursing is there are many opportunities to grow and advance in your career. As you grow and advance, you can have a greater sense of autonomy, which is something everyone enjoys. While nurses who work in non-bedside roles have supervisors or managers, many non-bedside nursing jobs offer more autonomy. Therefore, this could be an excellent option if you enjoy jobs with more independence.

REASON #2: You Like the Idea of Being Involved in Nursing Research

If you have strong analytical and critical-thinking skills and want to put those skills to work in a non-clinical or non-bedside role, you could consider becoming a nurse researcher. In this role, you can use your knowledge of clinical nursing coupled with your interest in scientific research to discover new ways of treating illnesses and diseases.

REASON #3: You Want to Educate Future Nurses

If you enjoy patient care but prefer not to have a full-time position at the bedside, you may consider becoming a nurse educator. When you become a nurse educator, you can teach nursing students and prepare them for their future as nurses, which allows you opportunities to be in clinical settings without having to work in a bedside nursing role full-time. Another advantage of this role is that you can influence the profession for years to come by instilling in your students the good qualities of a nurse and guiding them to become nurses who provide quality care to patients.

REASON #4: You Like the Work Schedules Offered by Non-Bedside Nursing Jobs

Many non-bedside nursing roles have more traditional schedules, with most nurses working typical office hours. If you prefer a Monday through Friday job or like having nights, weekends, and holidays off, a non-bedside role could be an excellent option to consider. The hours or shifts you work will be determined by the type of facility where you are employed and your job title, but in a non-bedside role, your schedule is likely to be more flexible.

REASON #5: You Want to Have a Slower-Paced Job

Many nurses choose non-bedside nursing roles to have a slower work pace. Whether you want to work in an administrative position, case management, education, or a similar role, you can put your nursing degree to work for you without having to work in the fast pace of a bedside nursing job.

REASON #6: You Are Looking for a Better Work/Life Balance

Nursing is a wonderful profession, but it can also be a demanding and stressful job. If you have a spouse, significant other, children, or other family who rely on you, or if you are active in other areas of your life, you may be interested in finding a nursing job that allows you to have more balance between work and your personal life. Non-bedside nursing jobs often make it easier to balance personal responsibilities, events that interest you, and your job without leaving you feeling as overwhelmed as some bedside nursing jobs.

REASON #7: You Want Variety in Nursing Job Options that Are “Non-Traditional”

One of the awesome things about nursing is that your knowledge and skills do not have to limit you to a traditional role such as working in a hospital or doctor's office. If you want to continue nursing but want a non-bedside role, you have many options. For example, you can work in marketing, law enforcement, correctional facilities, or consulting firms. There really is no limit to the things you can do with your degree!

My Final Thoughts

With so many options to choose from in nursing, you can choose a path that suits you best. One thing to consider is the difference between bedside nursing VS. non-bedside nursing. In this article, I shared my thoughts on reasons why you may consider bedside nursing VS. non-bedside nursing to help you decide which role you prefer to follow. Keep in mind, because nursing is so diverse, you are not limited to only one job or role, and you may choose to transition from one job to another at various times throughout your career.

Darby Faubion, RN, BSN, MBA
Darby Faubion is a nurse and Allied Health educator with over twenty years of experience. She has assisted in developing curriculum for nursing programs and has instructed students at both community college and university levels. Because of her love of nursing education, Darby became a test-taking strategist and NCLEX prep coach and assists nursing graduates across the United States who are preparing to take the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX).