When you started your nursing career, you were filled with excitement over the good you could do for your community.

If you no longer feel that way, you are not alone.

However, you may be wondering what your career holds now that you no longer want to be a nurse.

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What to Do When You No Longer Want to Be a Nurse

Just because you chose a particular career path several years ago does not mean you’re committed to it for the rest of your life.

In fact, nursing is a career that lends itself well to multiple changes that can help you grow and find new love for your job.

However, you may actually be feeling you do not want to have anything further to do with nursing and want to switch careers completely.

This is also a perfectly good alternative that can help you feel more satisfied personally and give you the employment boost you need until you decide to retire.

No matter what age you currently are or what department you work in, there are plenty of great options for what you can do when you no longer want to be a nurse.

There is no need for you to feel embarrassed or ashamed of whatever choice you make. The most important thing is to feel fulfilled in your professional life so that you can feel content in your personal life.

Why Do You Feel This Way?

Your first step as you consider what to do with your future is to determine why you feel the way that you do.

Perhaps your managers or coworkers are making every shift irritating. You may no longer enjoy the work that you are doing or may feel that it is too stressful for you at this point in your life.

You may even be one of the many nurses currently suffering from burnout.

By taking the time to work through these potentially difficult emotions, you will be better poised to move on to a career path that better suits your needs, goals, and personality.

You may find that you only need to make a small change to get away from your current unit.

On the other hand, you may find that nursing has completely drained the passion from you, better showing you that a major change will be necessary.

I actually went through this several years ago. I found that I felt stressed and unfulfilled in my job. I was one of the few nurses who actually enjoyed paperwork more than the bedside nursing portion of my job.

As I took time to consider my feelings, I realized that I could put my nursing knowledge to work in a way that better suited me while still taking advantage of my nursing education.

Signs That It Is Time to Leave Your Nursing Job

It is important to note that you are not the only nurse considering leaving this difficult career.

Many studies have found that nurses are leaving their careers in droves, with one showing that up to 80,000 nurses left the workforce altogether in 2020 compared to the 40,000 that left in 2010.

While there are many reasons given by nurses for leaving the workforce, the study cited poor staffing ratios, high levels of stress, and difficult work environments as being primary issues for many.

Other research published in 2018 found that nearly half of nurses have considered leaving their professions in the past year. Nurses spoke of difficult workloads, nursing shortages and feelings of burnout.

Other studies have looked specifically at new nurses.

Unfortunately, a 2014 study showed that over 17% of graduate nurses leave their first jobs within the first year, and 33% leave within the first two years.

If your job feels more like a burden than a joy, you are not alone. Here are just a few signs that it may be time to move on from nursing.

  • You feel bored with your job.
  • You feel incredibly stressed every time you come into work.
  • You are not getting paid what you deserve.
  • You now dread work even on your days off.
  • You constantly daydream about a different line of work.

Making a Simple Switch

If you have simply lost the passion you once had for your particular field of nursing, a simple switch may be all you need to regain the excitement you once had.

Consider moving to a different unit in your hospital, making a switch to a completely different health care organization, or moving from hospital nursing to clinic nursing.

You might even consider a job as a public health, hospice, or home health nurse.

Making a Major Switch

However, if you are feeling a complete lack of passion about your job or simply feel too stressed to consider working in a similar field any longer, you may need a major career change.

You could choose a job that builds on the education, skills, and experience that you already have, or you might consider switching to a completely different career, which could require you to return to school.

Jobs That Build on Your Nursing Knowledge

You may be able to use your bachelor’s degree in nursing to work in non-patient care environments.

Many of these jobs require the leadership and management skills that you have built on during your nursing career.

Some of the best options include the following:

  • Legal nurse consultant
  • Dietitian
  • Nurse educator
  • Nurse researcher
  • Forensics nurse
  • Nurse ethicist
  • Dental hygienist
  • Addictions counselor
  • Pharmaceutical sales representative
  • Diabetes educator
  • Nurse auditor

Find Your Job

Use our job board to start looking for and applying to jobs near you.

New Career Paths

However, just because you have a nursing education does not mean you have to use it for the rest of your life.

You can easily go back to school to get a second bachelor’s degree. If you already have a bachelor’s degree in nursing, you may even qualify for a graduate program in a completely different field.

The sky is the limit when it comes to a new career path.

Think outside the box, and do not feel limited by the education and experiences that you have already had.

You could be a writer, an accountant, a realtor, or anything else that you could imagine.

If the stress of nursing has you feeling down, search for jobs with low-stress levels and great personal flexibility. This will prevent the nurse burnout that you may have already experienced in your current career.

Dealing With the Emotional Repercussions

Making the switch from nursing to an entirely different career or from bedside nursing to another non-clinical nursing job may make you feel embarrassed.

After all, nursing is seen as a profession of compassion and front-line help.

You may fear that stepping away from your job may make you appear selfish or uncaring.

While there may be some friends, families or coworkers who fault you for any decision you make for your career, remember that you will find the greatest fulfillment and satisfaction by following your passions.

Just deciding to make the switch may give you an instant boost and decrease your stress even before you start your new job.

Give yourself time to grieve the loss of a career that you may have once thought was perfect for you.

While not everyone feels sorrow, you may at least feel disappointment in yourself for choosing a career path that lasted only a short time.

Remember that your emotions are not who you are and that they can swiftly change.

Thomas Uzuegbunem, BSN, RN

Final Thoughts

Whether you’re in a new season of life or have discovered that nursing does not give you the joy you once felt, there are plenty of other careers for you to explore.

Comment below if you have ever felt burned out by nursing or have switched career paths.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What do you do if you don’t want to be a nurse anymore?

    If you’re tired of being a nurse you should pursue further training or seek professions where having a nursing degree could give you an advantage such as forensics nurse, legal nurse consultant or pharmaceutical sales rep.

  2. What can you do with a nursing degree if you don’t want to be a nurse?

    If you’re tired of being a nurse you should pursue further training or seek professions where having a nursing degree could give you an advantage such as legal nurse consultant or pharmaceutical sales rep.

  3. What can I do instead of nursing?

    If you’re tired of nursing you can go back to school or seek professions where having a nursing degree could give you an advantage such as legal nurse consultant or pharmaceutical sales rep.

  4. Why do so many nurses quit?

    Many nurses quit the nursing profession because of increased work stress and a feeling of not being supported at work.

  • For now I want to pick a minimum wage job to make ends meet until I figure out what next? I don’t know what to with a resume/experience/education which is all things nursing. How do I apply to be a barista with a resume with BSc nursing and 15 years in ICU? I hear people do this all the time but I’m too burnt-out to even figure THAT out.

  • I am trying to figure out what to do. My husband is chronically ill and on the transplant list for a heart. I am 58 with an Associates in Nursing. Since my husband’s diagnosis, I am pretty much done with nursing. Why? I can’t focus like I did before he got sick. Depression and Anxiety are daily problems. I need to make the same salary if possible. Rock and a hard place. Any thoughts would be welcome.