One of the benefits of being an experienced licensed practical nurse (LPN) is that it allows you to choose from a variety of different career options. LPNs work under the supervision of physicians and registered nurses. They handle routine duties like taking vital signs and administering medication. While being an LPN can be a fulfilling job, it can also be stressful for many reasons and the rate of burnout is high.
If you are ready for a change of pace, there are quite a few unique LPN jobs from which to choose. The careers below can enable you to leverage your clinical experience and skills in ways that improve your patients’ quality of life and that you will find personally rewarding.
1. Patient Advocate
The healthcare system can be confusing and overwhelming, especially for people who are dealing with serious illnesses. A patient advocate (also called a patient navigator) will provide essential guidance. Your LPN experience will enable you to communicate with healthcare providers on behalf of your clients. You are uniquely qualified for this since a nurse’s job is partly to advocate for patients in that you listen to them and understand how best to provide direct care. You may also help your client communicate better with insurance companies and case managers. Aside from hospitals, patient advocates may work for government agencies, insurance companies or rehab centers. Patient advocacy is a largely unregulated field with no licensing or certification, which makes it uniquely suited to nurses who want to change careers.
2. Healthcare Writer
If you can communicate effectively via the written word, you can use your LPN background to pen articles on topics related to healthcare. Your knowledge of medical procedures and the healthcare system will be useful for writing newsletters and patient pamphlets. Additional training in journalism and technical writing can also prove helpful. This could be the right job for you if you like writing and have an eye for detail. Flexible work hours are among the benefits afforded to healthcare writers. Healthcare writers can find work writing for pharmaceutical companies, medical equipment manufacturers and healthcare providers. You can even freelance, making healthcare writer one of the better work from home LPN jobs.
3. Home Healthcare Worker
A home healthcare worker or home health nurse provides individual care in the patient’s home. In many cases, these patients will have been discharged from hospitals. The home health care worker’s job is mainly to monitor the patient and to ensure that they continue to recover. They may also assist the patient with personal hygiene, housekeeping and mobility. A home healthcare worker will work under the direction of the patient’s physician. The benefits of being a home healthcare worker include the fact that it is usually less physically demanding than 12-hour shifts in hospitals. Home healthcare workers also have the opportunity to build long-term relationships with their patients, which is usually not possible in a clinical setting.
4. Medical Biller/Coder
Medical billing and coding is another of the popular LPN career options. Medical billers and coders are also known as health information technicians. Their job is to make sure that insurance companies reimburse healthcare providers as quickly and efficiently as possible. They look at a doctor’s records and convert them into a bill that is sent to the insurance company. As a medical biller, you may be hired by hospitals directly or by a billing company. You can also find work as a freelance medical biller. Because of their clinical knowledge and extensive training, former nurses are in particularly high demand for this job.
5. Legal Nurse Consultant
If you are interested in working in the legal field, a legal nursing consultant career may be perfect for you. Attorneys need experienced nurses to consult on cases related to healthcare. Legal nurse consultants will often work with lawyers as they handle lawsuits and will provide expertise to lawyers specifically in the area of nursing. They may work with a law firm as their in-house consultant on nursing matters. As a legal nurse consultant, you should have a thorough knowledge of the nursing profession and be able to evaluate healthcare delivery and offer informed opinions.
6. Health Educator
A health educator’s job is to inform communities about healthcare services and help to promote wellness. A health educator may offer suggestions on diet, exercise and other lifestyle improvements. The interpersonal skills you developed as an LPN will be useful for communication-oriented parts of the job. In addition to collecting data, a health educator will also discuss a community’s health concerns and may work alongside community health workers. You may provide this information online and via press releases and media campaigns. While some employers will require you to have a health education specialist certificate, others won’t. Health educators are currently in high demand and the field is expected to grow in the near future.
7. Corporate Wellness Consultant
Corporations hire corporate wellness consultants to help implement new strategies for health. You will collaborate with a company’s HR department to develop customized wellness programs. The job is similar to that of a health coach or health educator but in a corporate setting. Your experience as a nurse will help you to provide counseling to clients. You may be required to advise clients on everything from weight management to meditation and yoga.
8. Health Coach
A health coach has a similar job description to that of a health educator but they work with individual clients rather than communities. Health coaches assist their clients in developing healthier habits. For example, a health coach may provide guidance with weight-loss efforts or with the attempt to quit smoking. Health coaches will help their clients to understand the value of good health. They will also help them set long-term and short-term goals and overcome obstacles on their way to healthy living. Along with information and guidance, health coaches also provide motivation. Nurses are well-equipped to be health coaches because of their ability to evaluate patients and plan care.
9. Medical or Pharmaceutical Sales Representative
An LPN can be a great asset to a company that sells pharmaceuticals or medical equipment. A pharmaceutical sales representative will interact with doctors who will prescribe medications or use specialized equipment. You will be required to service existing accounts and get new ones. You must be able to answer questions about the products that you are selling. Medical sales reps do the same thing but with medical equipment that will be used in hospitals and doctors’ offices. Your communication skills and experience as an LPN will be important for understanding and using medical terms. You should also have a basic knowledge of pharmacology. The benefits of being a sales rep include a flexible schedule and high earning potential.
10. Nursing Informatician
A nursing informatician is a professional who practices nursing informatics, which can be described as a blend of nursing and IT. If you are an LPN who enjoys working with technology, this job might be ideal for you. Nursing informaticians troubleshoot medical software and help to educate nurses on how to use technology. Nursing experience will be useful as it helps for a nursing informatician to understand patient care requirements and how technology can be used to improve patient care.
11. Nurse Midwife
In recent years, it has become popular for pregnant women to select a midwife to assist them in childbirth instead of an obstetrician. As a nurse midwife, you may work in a hospital or a clinic. You may also work in a standalone birthing center. Depending on your state’s restrictions, you may even be able to help deliver a baby in the client’s home. You will provide gynecological and prenatal care along with labor and delivery services. Along with the birthing services, nurse midwives use their LPN experience and other training to educate clients about natural birth.
12. Physical Therapist
A physical therapist’s work requires many of the skills that you used as an LPN. Physical therapists use a knowledge of how the body works to help patients regain mobility and physical functions. As a former LPN, you will have the requisite knowledge of anatomy and kinesiology as well as the ability to encourage and motivate those under your care. If you were comfortable with these aspects of your job as an LPN, you can put your skills and experience to good use as a physical therapist.
13. Healthcare Recruiter
Nurses are often the best at evaluating and recruiting applicants for jobs in healthcare. The ability to communicate effectively combined with experience in the healthcare industry all equip LPNs to find the right candidates for healthcare jobs. Also, both employers and job candidates often prefer working with experienced nurses.
Frequently Asked Questions
What kind of income can I expect?
The US Bureau of Labor Statistics states that the median pay for an LPN was $47,000 per year in 2019. The alternative LPN careers listed above cover a spectrum of earnings from being in the same range to considerably higher. While the median salary for medical billers is slightly less than the median salary for LPNs, the average base salary for pharmaceutical reps is over $75,000 a year, according to Indeed.com.
Will I have to go back to school?
Many of the alternative careers for LPN professionals do require some additional qualifications but many do not. Health coaching is one of the potential paths that does not require any kind of certification. Similarly, it may be possible to embark on a career as a healthcare writer or pharmaceutical/medical equipment sales rep without additional training.
If you are an LPN and you want to change careers, the list above represents a fraction of the many alternative career paths you can take. Knowing yourself and what you want from your career is a big part of deciding what to do next. Remember, you are not necessarily at the end of your career in healthcare just because you want to move away from patient care. There are many ways for you to apply what you learned in nursing school and in your time as a bedside nurse.