Remote Nursing Jobs: What Are They and How You Can Find One
One of the unique aspects about the field of nursing is the many facets of opportunity it offers. Nurses can work in a variety of settings, from the clinic to the ICU; a range of populations, from neonates to the elderly; and, an array of schedules ranging from PRN to full-time. We all understand the typical nursing roles, but over the last several years, a growing opportunity has emerged for nurses to perform their skills in a new and unexpected environment: their own home (or even their next travel destination)!
Nurses Can Work From Home Too
Every day, thousands of nurses across the nation take the arduous 20-step commute to their home office. They wake up at the crack of 8:55 A.M. in exhaustive preparation for their 9:00 A.M. shift. They wear pajamas. They do laundry on their lunch breaks. They pick up their kids from school. They haven’t seen a hospital in years.
Many factors are influencing the propulsion of remote nursing career options, including the advancement of healthcare technology and shifts in cultural demands.
First, the advent of Electronic Medical Records (EMR) has allowed patient information to become accessible from any place on earth. Rather than being tied to a specific location with paper charts, healthcare professionals can now simply log in to a secure portal and view the documents online, allowing for more flexibility with time and travel.
A second factor influencing the growth of remote nursing opportunities is the evolving need for services beyond the hospital. Eventually, patients return home, medical bills are rendered, and the need for continuity of care emerges. Nurses work in these roles, many of which are not location-dependent, to support this continuous cycle of healthcare.
Last, as the patient population grows and changes, we are seeing a higher demand for telehealth services to decrease barriers of care for the elderly and low-income patients, as well as to meet the growing expectation for a new area of on-demand, continuous service. The deep education and clinical expertise offered by nurses serves as a perfect fit for these roles.
The opportunities are vast and growing, but many questions arise when considering working from home as a nurse...
What kinds of roles are available for nurses to work remotely?
- Case Management
- Telephone Triage
- Data Abstraction
- Utilization Management
- Auditing and Quality Assurance
- Billing & Coding
- Nursing Education
- Telehealth (Nurse Practitioners)
- Clinical Informatics
- Health Coaching
- Legal Nurse Consulting
- Medical Writing
- Clinical Research
- Nurse Entrepreneurship
How do nurses deliver patient care solely through computers or phones?
Remote nursing positions often support the “big picture.” While an inpatient nurse may be focused on targeted care for several patients, a remote case manager, for example, coordinates the entire healthcare picture for several dozens of patients. This can include handling referrals, navigating billing issues, and triaging symptoms, none of which require hands-on care.
Other nurses work in settings where patient interaction is minimal or nonexistent, like in chart review and data abstraction. Nursing is expanding beyond the traditional roles of direct patient care and allowing for a wider scope of duties that support the entire healthcare picture.
How can a nurse obtain a remote position if he/she only has bedside experience?
Bedside experience is a goldmine! It is a common misconception that in order to land a remote job, a nurse must have remote experience. This is not true and, in fact, it’s impossible! In reality, remote nursing is not a specialty or area of expertise. It’s simply a setting in which a nurse conducts a job role.
For example, a pediatric clinic nurse works in the clinic, but his/her expertise and job role is that of a pediatric nurse. Similarly, a remote research nurse works in a home office, but his/her expertise and job role is that of a research nurse. Following this logic, experience in the specified job role is the single most important qualification for obtaining a remote position.
Although remote experience is a bonus, it is almost never required. For this reason, the best way for a nurse to start navigating toward a remote position is to first explore which remote positions are available; determine which of those positions fit with his/her experience, interests, and talents; and, then obtain experience in that job role in any setting. After at least 2-3 years of experience in the job role itself, the transition into a remote role of the same caliber will be much easier.
Do opportunities exist for LPNs, RNs, and NPs?
Yes, yes, and yes! By far, the most abundant remote nursing opportunities exist for RNs, but some positions do exist for LPNs, too. Nurse Practitioners also have unique remote opportunities available. Each job posting will specify which licenses are required.
How does state licensing work for remote roles?
For nurses, this question is complicated and the answer varies. Some jobs require a specific state license, some jobs require or allow a compact license, and some jobs just simply require a license, period. This is entirely dependent on the company, role, and duties for individual positions. Each job posting will specify the state licensing requirements.
For Nurse Practitioners, licensing is a little more cut and dry. You will need one or several specific state licenses to conduct services. Many companies will work with you to obtain additional state licenses, and some companies will even pay the necessary fees. You may also need to find a supervising physician depending on state requirements (at least until full practice authority becomes more widespread).
Can working remotely allow nurses to stay at home and raise their children?
For a vast majority of remote nursing jobs, childcare arrangements are equally as essential as they are for location-dependent positions. Working remotely may, however, allow for alternative forms of childcare, whether it be part-time arrangements, in-home nannying, or opposite-shift childcare swaps with a spouse or family member.
Flexible scheduling may also exist to offset some childcare needs or to allow for school pickups and appointments, but this is dependent on the job and the company guidelines.
Many large companies have childcare and noise stipulations in their employment agreements! Whether a job is conducted in a hospital or a home office, the nurse must still maintain a level of professionalism to clients that does not include screaming babies, barking dogs, and continuous interruptions.
Think about a nurse bringing his/her child to a hospital shift and imagine how that would work out! The same respect should be given to remote positions as is given to location-dependent positions. Both require critical thinking, focused multitasking, and oftentimes direct patient interaction. These are all very difficult to perform with children present.
Despite the expansion of remote nursing jobs, most nurses still have no idea this option is available to them. These positions are not typically discussed in nursing schools and certainly no clinicals exist to provide immersion into these roles, either.
However, with a large percentage of seasoned nurses abandoning the field due to burnout and an alarming percentage of new nurses leaving the field immediately upon entry, it is imperative that we start introducing alternative career options for current and aspiring nurses. Remote work options have the potential to act as one of the many needed “pressure valves” to alleviate our burnout epidemic.
For millennial nurses, flexibility and work-life balance is the largest influencing factor in their career decisions today. For aging nurses, the opportunity to work remotely can allow for continued participation in the workforce long after the body has had enough. As a field, we need to embrace this new era, harness the emerging technology and culture, and work to add measures that save our profession before it burns up, and out.