What Can You Do With a BSN? 7 Careers Beyond Bedside Nursing

What can you do with a BSN? Learn more about how earning a Bachelor of Science in Nursing can help prepare you to pursue diverse careers beyond bedside nursing.
St. Catherine University RN-BSN degree completion student

When people think of nursing, they often picture bedside nursing, where a registered nurse works with multiple patients in a medical facility. However, this isn’t the only career option for current and aspiring nurses.

What can you do with a BSN? The answer spans a broad field with diverse opportunities.

The following careers are just seven options.

1. Nurse Educator

Nurse educators instruct aspiring nurses in classroom and clinical settings alike. They work in teaching hospitals as well as nursing schools. Most nurse educators work in nursing departments at four-year colleges, universities, community colleges, and technical schools. They create curricula with their colleagues and deans.  

Other job duties include

  • Giving lectures to undergraduate and graduate students
  • Assigning homework and projects
  • Grading assignments

Many nurse educators pursue the career because it provides an opportunity to work closely with students and advise them about their career paths. 

People who want to become nurse educators should earn at least a BSN. They should also gain experience working as a registered nurse, which will help them prepare students for what to expect on the job.

Nurse educators earn a median annual salary of $74,600, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The job outlook is promising, as the BLS projects the employment of these professionals to grow by 13% between 2019 and 2029 — faster than the average for all careers (4%).  


2. Health Policy Nurse

Another option for what to do with a BSN is become a health policy nurse. These nurses play a role in creating healthcare policies that impact nursing and public health. They work alongside policymakers in the government and healthcare organizations to improve aspects of healthcare. Making healthcare more accessible and effective is an essential aspect of a health policy nurse’s role. 

Aspiring health policy nurses should enroll in a BSN degree program where they can develop their leadership skills and knowledge about public health. They should begin their careers as registered nurses so they can get hands-on experience in the field. With practical experience, they gain firsthand knowledge of what patients need and what issues affect healthcare workers. 

According to the BLS, registered nurses who work in government positions earn a median annual salary of $79,790. The bureau projects the employment of RNs in government to grow by 7% between 2019 and 2029. 


3. Nurse Recruiter

Nurse recruiters help recruit aspiring licensed practical nurses, registered nurses, or nursing students for positions in the field. Nurse recruiter duties include

  • Posting advertisements
  • Attending job fairs 
  • Conducting interviews
  • Connecting qualified applicants with appropriate programs 

Nurse recruiter and nurse educator roles intertwine. According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, “U.S. nursing schools turned away 80,407 qualified applications from baccalaureate and graduate nursing programs in 2019 due to an insufficient number of faculty.” When more nurse educators step into positions in the field, nurse recruiters can encourage more prospective students to apply for programs and thereby help address the nursing shortage. 

Nurse recruiters must hold a BSN degree and may need licensure. The BLS places nurse recruiters in the category of human resources specialists, who earn a median annual salary of $61,920. The projected employment growth of HR specialists is 7% between 2019 and 2029. 


4. Nurse Informaticist

Becoming a nurse informaticist is another answer to “What can you do with a BSN?” To give effective patient care, nurses need access to accurate information about patients, including

  • Name
  • Age
  • Vital signs
  • Medical history
  • Lab results
  • Symptoms
  • Medications
  • Diagnoses 

Healthcare relies on technology, informatics, and medical data. Nursing informatics, in particular, is an analytical science that allows nurse professionals to manage and communicate data. Nurse informatics upholds the integrity of electronic health records (EHRs) to help improve patient outcomes. 

Nurses looking to become nurse informaticists should earn a BSN from an accredited program. According to PayScale, nurse informaticists earn an annual salary of $78,782. The BLS projects the employment of all RNs, including nurse informaticists, to grow by 7% between 2019 and 2029. 


5. Forensic Nurse

Forensic nurses work with law enforcement professionals to gather evidence from criminal investigations. They help identify cause of death or inspect wounds, and determine whether injuries are related to sexual assault, child abuse, spousal abuse, or elder abuse, for example.

In addition, forensic nurses help law enforcement officials build cases against criminals. They can serve as expert witnesses in trials. To qualify for the role, nurses should earn a BSN as well as a certificate or MSN in forensic nursing. 

Clinical laboratory technicians earn a median annual salary of $53,120, according to the BLS, which predicts the job market for these professionals will grow by 7% between 2019 and 2029. 


6. Clinical Research Nurse

Research in the medical, clinical nursing, and pharmaceutical fields spurs new discoveries in medicine, helping scientists develop cures for illnesses and diseases. Clinical research nurses study diseases and disorders with an eye to researching new treatments and medications. They directly study patients, organize research trials, and keep detailed records. 

Clinical research nurses may attend academic and clinical nursing conferences and speak on panels. They can contribute to scholarly work, engage in research, and conduct their own studies. 

According to PayScale, clinical research nurses earn a median annual salary of $72,199. The BLS projects the number of jobs in this field to increase by 7% between 2019 and 2029. 


7. Nurse Health Coach

Nursing students who want to know what they can do with a BSN can consider becoming a nurse health coach, also known as an RN wellness coach. Nurse health coaches are usually self-employed and typically work with corporations. They consult with patients one on one, guiding them to make healthy lifestyle choices. 

Nurse health coaches advocate for patients, negotiating patient insurance claims and speaking with doctors on their behalf. They help people establish long-term goals for health and wellness that relate not only to medicine but also to their education and careers. 

Salaries can change based on job location, years of experience, and education level, but according to Zip Recruiter, the annual average salary of nurse health coaches is $62,883. 


What Can You Do With a BSN Degree Besides Nursing?

Combatting the nursing shortage will require the help of BSN graduates in a variety of roles. Registered nurses interested in better meeting patients’ needs and elevating their careers can start by earning a bachelor’s in nursing, such as through the online RN to BSN degree program at St. Catherine University. 

Graduates with a BSN can work as bedside nurses in medical settings, such as hospitals, clinics, and physicians’ offices. They can also pursue careers as nurse educators, health policy nurses, nurse recruiters, nurse informaticists, forensic nurses, clinical research nurses, or nurse health coaches. If you’re interested in one of these career paths, learn more about how a bachelor’s degree in nursing can help you succeed. 


Sources

AACN, Fact Sheet - Nursing Faculty Shortage 

American Nurses Association, Health Policy 

American Nurses Association, The Nursing Workforce 

Nurse.org, “From Registered Nurse to Health Coach: Why I Left the Bedside to Follow My Passion” 

PayScale, Average Clinical Research Nurse Salary 

PayScale, Average Informatics Nurse Salary

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Clinical Laboratory Technologists and Technicians  

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Human Resources Specialists

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Nursing Instructors and Teachers, Postsecondary 

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Registered Nurses  

Zip Recruiter, Nurse Health Coach Annual Salary