I Want to Leave Nursing What Else Can I Do – 13 Best Career Options in 2024

Written By: Kasee Wiesen DNP, APRN, FNP-C

Are you a nurse? Do you still enjoy it just like you did when you first graduated from nursing school? Or are you starting to feel burned out—wondering how you will get the energy to go to work another day or why you chose the nursing profession. Do you ever think, "I want to leave nursing what else can I do"?

These are all genuine thoughts that many nurses have thought of regardless of years of experience. And while many of the nurses can change their setting or environment where they work and redevelop their love and passion for nursing, others are not. Below, I have provided you with a list of the 13 best career options if you want to leave nursing and do something else.

Is it Normal for a Nurse to Want to Leave Nursing?

It is not uncommon for a nurse to want to leave nursing to do something else. Nursing is hard. The hours can be long, you may have to work weekends, nights, or holidays and the pandemic is not making any of this any easier. If you go and talk to a handful of nurses, many will tell you they felt burned out and wanted to leave nursing at least once in their career. While some do leave, many stay—realizing it was a temporary feeling or they just needed to change up their work environment (i.e., Find a new nursing job).

Nursing is not for everyone—and as I stated above, it is hard. For those nurses, though they are truly burned out and find no more joy in their career, it may be time to consider leaving nursing and finding a new job. This could be in healthcare still, but just in a different realm, or you could leave healthcare and nursing entirely and find a new career to feel passionate and excited about.

Should a Nurse Feel Bad for Wanting to Leave Nursing to Do Something Else?

No, you should not feel bad if you want to leave bedside nursing to do something else. This is very common, and as I have previously stated, many nurses have felt similarly. You must find a job or career that brings you joy. If nursing was that for you in the past but no longer is, recognize that you want to leave nursing to do something else and reflect on that feeling to determine what your next steps should be.

10 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Leaving Nursing to Do Something Else

Once you are wanting to leave nursing to do something else, ask yourself a few questions to ensure you are leaving for the right reasons. These questions can also help you figure out what you want to do next with your life—what your career goals are.

1. Are you happy with your current job?
2. Do you dread going to work?
3. Why did you want to become a bedside nurse?
4. What do you love about bedside nursing?
5. Why do you want to leave?
6. What are you going to do next? Are you going to branch off and find another job in nursing/healthcare?
7. Are you taking care of yourself?
8. Am I willing to start over in a new career?
9. What are you looking for in your next job?
10. Are you looking for a new challenge?

I Want to Leave Nursing What Else Can I Do?

So, you no longer want to be a nurse, but now you may be wondering what is next for you. Below, I provide 13 career options for those who wish to leave nursing and pursue a different career in 2024. Some of these careers will require no further education or certifications, and others may require you to complete another degree or obtain certificates before starting.

1. Healthcare Writer

The field of healthcare writing is gaining popularity—and is an excellent option for nurses who do not want to practice anymore but still enjoy healthcare. The field of healthcare writing is large and can range from writing for pharmaceutical companies to developing questions for tests, creating CEU courses, or writing for health-related magazines and websites. Your BSN degree will help give you credibility in this field, and other certifications are optional to complete. Keep in mind that this line of work can be freelance work or work for a company--providing more opportunities to pursue this path if you desire.

2. Clinic Manager

A clinic manager is another great career option for a nurse wanting to leave nursing to do something else. A positive of this career choice is that you still work in healthcare but in a completely different role. The clinic manager oversees the functioning of the clinic. They manage and supervise the staff, focus on administrative duties such as billing and payroll, play a part in hiring and firing staff, respond to patient complaints, concerns and compliments and ensure the clinic is running smoothly. Your BSN degree will be very beneficial for this role, but some organizations may require the clinic manager to have an advanced degree such as an MBA.

3. Medical or Pharmaceutical Sales Rep

A medical or pharmaceutical sales rep is another option for the nurse who wants to start a new career. Becoming a medical or pharmaceutical sales rep allows the nurse to work in healthcare but in an entirely different realm. You meet with physicians, hospital administration, pharmacists, and advanced practice providers to advertise and market-specific medications and medical supplies. This is an excellent option for nurses looking to start a new career because you already know multiple drugs and medical supplies, plus strong communication skills, leading to a high potential of success in medical and pharmaceutical sales. Your BSN degree is sufficient, but you will also have to complete specific training based on your advertising and marketing product.

4. Blogger

Blogging is becoming more and more popular—and while some people do it as a hobby, others do it to make money. The great thing about blogging is that you can choose any hobby or passion and turn it into a blog. No college degree is needed for this. While you can set your hours and write about whatever you desire, it does take time and daily commitment to maintaining—it is not always easy or quick making money from a blog. Often, once you have an established blog, adding a podcast or writing a book becomes the next goal or step with your blogging career.

5. Real Estate Agent

If you want to leave nursing to do something else, consider becoming a real estate agent. They have a strong knowledge of the housing market, helping clients rent, buy and sell homes and businesses. They also develop relationships with numerous people in the industry, including lenders, other real estate agents, escrow companies, home inspectors, and appraisers. A person’s nursing background will help them in real estate due to their ability to talk to people, follow through and complete tasks, be trustworthy, and have good time management skills. There is no specific degree needed to become a real estate agent, but you must pass an exam and become certified.

6. Become a Teacher

Nurses are teachers—we educate our patients and their family’s every day. We do this through talking with the patient, using the teach-back method to ensure understanding, or providing handouts with more detailed information regarding medications, diagnoses, etc. Regardless, we educate those around us every day. So, becoming a teacher may be your next career for people wanting to leave nursing. This will require you to return to school to get your teaching certification, but if you have a passion for working with pre-school, school-aged, or high school kids, this may be the perfect fit for you! The hours are more consistent compared to nursing. Plus, you have weekends and holidays off—and in most school systems, you will be off in the summer as well.

7. Become a photographer

Photography is an excellent option for nurses who want to leave nursing to do something else. There are many options within the field of photography—for example, you can photograph families, children, pregnancies, pets, or wildlife. You will have the freedom to set your schedule. No additional degree is needed to become a photographer, but obtaining certifications geared towards your style of photography will help set you apart and increase your credibility as a photographer.

8. Health Coach

Becoming a health coach is another career path that is gaining popularity. They work with clients who want or need to change their overall health behaviors and goals. This is done through communication with their clients, providing interventions such as therapy or reflection, weekly physical activity regimens, and nutrition guidelines. They work with people to prevent chronic health problems or help make lifestyle changes for those with chronic health problems. A health coach helps hold their clients accountable for their actions. Your BSN degree is sufficient, but you may need other certifications to be a health coach effectively.

9. Personal Trainer/Fitness Instructor

If you want to leave nursing and help people improve their health, you might want to consider becoming a personal trainer or fitness instructor. Personal trainers or fitness instructors desire to help people live a healthy lifestyle—and they achieve this through helping people achieve their fitness goals. They may also provide some general knowledge regarding the benefits of good nutrition and, if needed, refer you to a nutritionist to learn how to better fuel your body. No specific degree is necessary, but you must take a test to become a certified personal trainer. Personal trainers can work for an organization or can be independent and work for themselves.

10. Nutritionist

If you want to leave nursing but still help people live a healthy lifestyle, becoming a nutritionist may be an option. They provide information and education regarding nutrition and food—this may be to lose weight, maintain a healthy weight or manage chronic disease. They work with their clients to determine appropriate goals and help them achieve these goals through nutrition. As nurses, we educate patients on the importance of a healthy diet, weight loss when needed, and the importance of maintaining a healthy weight. Therefore, changing to this career would be a smooth transition. To become a nutritionist/dietician, you have to return to school to achieve a master’s or doctorate and take a specified certification exam.

11. Lactation Consultant

Lactation consultants are specialists in breastfeeding. They typically work on postpartum floors helping new moms learn to breastfeed but may also work for private organizations that offer only breastfeeding support. Besides working directly with new moms, many lactation consultants also teach classes to expect women to help answer questions and introduce them to breastfeeding before their baby is born. Many nurses who work in labor and delivery, postpartum, and NICU go on and complete the required certification to become lactation consultants. Your nursing degree will help communicate, answer questions, and work with the parents and their infant.

12. Addictions Counselor

Becoming an addiction counselor may be another path a nurse who wants to leave nursing may want to pursue—especially nurses who worked in areas that delivered care to patients suffering from addiction. Addiction counselors provide support and guidance to people suffering from addiction. They do this by helping the person identify what led them to the substance in the first place, reflect on themselves and past decisions, learn to cope healthily, evaluate old behaviors and determine what can be changed. They will help the person create a plan to move towards sobriety—which can be achieved through goal setting and planning steps to complete. Your BSN will help start your process of becoming an addiction counselor, but you will have to go on and get your master’s in addiction counseling and obtain certification before you can practice.

13. Healthcare Recruiter

A healthcare recruiter is another role for a nurse who wants to leave nursing but still feels connected to healthcare. Their part is to recruit healthcare professionals for healthcare organizations, including physicians, advanced practice providers, nurses, LPNs, physical therapists, respiratory therapists, etc. Your nursing background will help you in this field. You know how to talk with other healthcare professionals and determine the best fit for them throughout the organization you assist as a healthcare recruiter.

My Final Thoughts

Did I answer your question; I want to leave nursing what else can I do? I have said it before, and I will repeat it—nursing is a great career because of the degree's versatility, but sometimes you need to change it up entirely, especially if it is starting to impact your day-to-day life and mental health. I hope the list of the 13 best career options if you want to leave nursing and do something else sparked some ideas for you regarding new careers you can pursue when you no longer want to be a nurse.

Kasee Wiesen DNP, APRN, FNP-C
Kasee Wiesen is a practicing family nurse practitioner. Her nursing background includes emergency medicine, pediatrics and peri-op. Education is a passion of Kasee’s, and she has taught BSN, RN-BSN and DNP students, and has enjoyed every moment of it!