Nursing is a wide-open field in many ways, with a number of job opportunities that offer a registered nurse alternatives to working in a hospital or other typical healthcare venues. Some of those are unconventional, to say the least, although the basics of nursing still count in your work. Flight nursing, oil rig nursing, forensic nursing and -- great name for it -- alternative therapy are all options outside the conventional world.
If you chose the option of flight nursing, you’ll need to plan on spending some time on the ground in a critical care environment to gain the necessary experience. Most air transport flights are for interfacility transfers of critically ill patients, whether from the field to a hospital or from one hospital to another, according to OSF Aviation, an Illinois air ambulance service. You’ll be the only healthcare professional on the flight in some cases, so you’ll need a high level of competence in emergency procedures, the ability to make quick decisions in high-stress situations, a willingness to work independently and special certifications such as Advanced Cardiac Life Support.
Oil Rig Nursing
Offshore oil rigs are few in number -- only 62 in U.S. waters, according to an August 2013 article in the “Oil and Gas Journal” -- but they offer another opportunity to be independent in what can quickly become a critical situation. Although much of oil platform nursing is routine outpatient care such as blood pressure or cholesterol screening, according to a career profile on the Petroleum Industry Human Resources Committee website, oil rig nurses must go it alone when a worker is injured or suffers an acute condition such as a heart attack. Like flight nurses, oil rig nurses should have critical care experience and be comfortable making independent decisions. As an oil rig nurse, you’ll take tours of duty lasting weeks to months, with 24-hour call as the only medical person on the rig.
Alternative medicine is a right-about-face from the critical care world of flight or oil rig nursing. As the name suggests, alternative medicine includes such unconventional therapies as traditional Chinese medicine, mind-body healing, homeopathy, herbal medicine, energy medicine and massage, according to the American Holistic Nurses Association. Complementary medicine combines both alternative and conventional therapies. Nurses who practice in this area often describe what they do as holistic nursing -- treating the entire patient as an individual with a wide variety of therapeutic interventions. Nursing experience that includes patient assessment is very useful in this field, as much of what holistic nurses do is related to their ability to assess patients’ symptoms and understand what they say about their condition.
The forensic nurse has one foot in each of two camps: the medical world and the legal world. As a forensic nurse, you might specialize in sexual assault, investigate deaths or work in disaster recovery, according to the International Association of Forensic Nurses. You must understand legal issues, the rules regarding evidence collection and the chain of evidence, as well as the dynamics of interpersonal violence. You might examine a death scene from an auto accident, collect specimens from a rape victim or testify in court about your findings. A broad knowledge of nursing and several years of nursing experience are necessary for this field.
Beth Greenwood is an RN and has been a writer since 2010. She specializes in medical and health topics, as well as career articles about health care professions. Greenwood holds an Associate of Science in nursing from Shasta College.