How nursing can be an avenue into medicine, pharmaceuticals and more

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There has been an increase in the number of nurses and nursing staff that move into medicine and other related fields such as pharmaceuticals and healthcare information management. The result has been a marked reduction in nursing and primary healthcare staff, while also seeing an increase in the number of nursing students currently registered for the BSN or other associated 3–4-year degrees. 

The skills associated with nursing have been in demand for a long time. Private nursing and  the rise of care homes and elderly care options has meant that if you are a qualified and registered nurse there may be more for you to do in the way of work than you have ever seen before. The jobs and labor market has changed dramatically and healthcare is one of the sectors that has seen the most growth in recent times. Proactive healthcare is regarded as the way of the future and in order for this to happen we will simply need more people who are able to assist, advise and monitor health.

This article will detail the possibility and opportunity for nurses to move into various other healthcare careers. Showing that the traditional nursing qualification can be just the beginning for a long-term sustainable career in healthcare and beyond.

The careers that nurses are moving into

The recent pandemic and the heightened risks to primary healthcare providers, and nurses in particular, has seen a number of front-line staff looking to make changes. The demand for nursing staff has skyrocketed and it would seem that there will be enough in training to meet some of this demand, but many of these nurses and those already in the sector are moving into the following sectors:

Emergency response

It is a fact that climate change is causing extreme events to occur more often than ever before. This has led to the requirement for an increased number of first responders and the emergency first aid sector has seen a number of nursing staff move into this sector for the long term. Whether it is ambulance responders, emergency room triaging or general care and assessment of victims of floods and other natural disasters, a substantial number of nurses have found that rather than providing a temporary opportunity, these are now full-time careers. It is the very front line of nursing and is always urgent and immediate.

Doctoring and Medicine

A registered and accredited nursing qualification has always been a possible route into other fields in the medical sector. Whether it is leading a team of nurse anesthetists or studying your way to becoming a doctor nursing provides the perfect healthcare foundation and a sideway route into medicine.

Healthcare and nursing management

A BSN is the perfect starting point for a post graduate degree in healthcare management. With the importance of big data for healthcare, there is the need to manage such data in conjunction with ensuring holistic provision of services. There is thus a clear pathway into healthcare and healthcare information management from nursing. Nursing management is an excellent way to keep a pulse on patient care without being on the frontline directly every day. It allows you to supervise nurses and nursing programs, supervise facilities, delegate duties and ensure hospital standards, protocols and staff are all working consistently to achieve excellence in care.

The value of pursuing a career in nursing management is that you are able to specialize or remain a generalist if you prefer. Whether this means managing a specific department such as intensive care or radiology, or more generally managing staff across departments – the choice is yours. If you are a natural problem solver and strategist, this could be a perfect way to use those skills to ensure nursing meets the specific needs of patients is coordinated across different areas of work and is at the forefront of the latest developments in patient care and wellbeing.

The fact is that nursing leadership and management requires a strong shift as it mirrors many other industries that are male dominated and are yet to break the glass ceiling. In the US today, almost 80% of top leadership positions in the top 20 companies in the country are held by men.


Again, as a registered nurse with a BSN and some experience a move into pharmaceuticals is quite simple. Drug companies as well as manufacturers of manual handling assistance and even the marketing sectors for large pharmaceuticals would rather employ someone with healthcare and nursing experience. As more patients require specialized care and the costs of this kind of care make specialized responses more important, many big pharmaceutical companies are looking at the role of nurses in their recruitment plans.

Whether you consider changing careers or simply to use your nursing qualifications, there are many opportunities for nurses in the pharmaceutical industry and their skills are valued. With some patients taking up to 14 medications with complex procedures and processes that accompany that kind of regime, nurses can assist drug makers to ensure that patients are safe.

The following are the top pharmaceutical jobs that have become popular for nurses:

  • Medical science liaison: This involves building relationships with stakeholders and decision makers to ensure that healthcare providers understand and are abreast of the latest research and treatment guidelines for a company’s products. In this role, a MSL would work across teams in a multi-disciplinary context that requires the input of marketing teams, sales teams and other to ensure that educational and promotional priorities of a product are met.
  • Medical information officers: This is an excellent place to start if you are switching from nursing to the pharmaceutical industry as it draws on both people skills and clinical skills. Medical information roles require a professional who can develop responses and answer questions about products posed by patients and healthcare providers. The role does require excellent communication skills and wanting to find answers to all kinds of questions.
  • Drug safety: Also called pharmacovigilance, this role requires the collection and evaluation of drug safety information in order to look for signals for adverse event reports about a company’s products. It would also require working across different teams, particularly with clinical trials departments, marketing departments and regulatory teams to ensure excellent reporting and understanding of drug safety where required. 


Elderly care

With more people living longer happier and healthier lives there is a need for prolonged elderly care and nursing. Much of this nursing is in the home or in care homes and care institutions and all of it will need highly trained and experienced nurses. The fact is that as people live longer, the number of older people will increase with fewer young people to look after them as people have smaller families. The growth of the population over 65 years old is expected to grow from 16.5% in 2019 to over 22% in 2050. This is a significant portion of the population that will require specialized care and health services that are tailored to the elderly.

Palliative care

This is a sector in healthcare that has expanded, and the number of nurses, advisors, counsellors and clinical staff has increased dramatically. Palliative care is required for anyone who is anyone living with a serious illness, such as heart issues, chronic pulmonary disease, cancer, dementia, Parkinson's disease, and many others. It is care that will be needed by the majority of elderly people in the country and as such has grown in demand. Those who have the nursing skills to manage and monitor such care are thus also in demand. This is a sector that is growing exponentially and will for the foreseeable future. 

How to make your nursing degree count

Being a nurse or having a nursing qualification is simply the beginning and will not guarantee that you too will be able to benefit from your time in nursing. It is thus imperative that you are proactive if you are going to use the skills you have to make as much difference as you can and enough money for a suitable work life balance.

Have a long-term plan – nothing that’s worth having is going to come easy. This is important to remember and will be the guiding principle for using your qualifications to the max.

The first step in developing a good career plan for your nursing ambitions is to have a clear understanding of the possible career paths based on your specific starting point. Then you need to plot a potential future with an end goal or position that you can work your way into. It is unlikely that this will happen overnight, and a fair amount of demanding work will be necessary to secure the experience, complete the studies and develop the behaviors that will allow you to progress.

Prepare for ongoing continuous self-development and training

Your aforementioned plan should also detail the type of professional development that will be required to allow you to attain and meet your goals.

Even for those who are not currently in the sector there are streamlined means of entry. If you have an accepted bachelor’s degree, then you will be able to register for one of the many online accelerated nursing programs . These programs will see you with a way to move into nursing from a totally unrelated profession as long as you have the necessary undergraduate bachelor’s degree and a passion to match.

There are many ways to make the degree that you have count and if it’s in nursing then you will be able to immediately use it to progress.

Nursing is the starting point for many a career and as has been shown in this article it is a great place to start as it opens up a vast number of career doors and opportunities. Jobs within nursing itself are extremely high paying at the moment and as such it is a sector that has seen a huge rush to train and be qualified. However, it is obvious that there are so many more opportunities that will pay as well as a career in nursing as long as you find the right one for you.

In the US at the moment, the skills associated with nursing are so much in demand that there are several programs afoot to either import the required skills or shorten the period required to train nurses. Should you have a current nursing qualification and be registered in your state, it is more than worth looking at the other related and associated opportunities that may be better for you and your family than the highly pressurized environment of nursing or hospital care.

Nursing is indeed still the noble profession of old and yes there is definitely a feel-good factor involved in the provision of healthcare as a nurse. Yet there is a financial requirement to be met by all in employment and as the demand for your skills skyrockets it may be time to play the market and see where you could realize the best income.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with this and the ability to find the best paying options for the skills that you have developed and honed over a long period of time is exactly how the capitalist labor market works.

Concluding remarks

It is clear as shown and discussed above that nursing is providing an entry for many into a number of other related and associated fields. Never has it been easier for those with the right skills and experience in nursing to move state, change jobs and take a few well-placed steps up the career ladder. This article has clearly showed what is possible with a nursing qualification and it should now be up to you to investigate further and find the right opportunities. These will allow you to get what you are worth in terms of renumeration and wages. Nursing is still a noble and honorable career path, but it is also a career path that now offers for some of the best paid jobs in our country.

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