Alternatives to Nursing: Degree Programs and Career Opportunities that Fulfill Your Passion for Healthcare - Geneva College
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Alternatives to Nursing: Degree Programs and Career Opportunities that Fulfill Your Passion for Healthcare

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Nursing is a highly promising profession, with data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics suggesting a job outlook of 15 percent for registered nurses—compared to 7 percent across all occupations. Unfortunately, despite the demand, nursing remains a highly competitive field.

Much of that competition is evident right away in college, where the standards for entry into nursing school can be surprisingly strict. Every year, many hard-working students are denied entrance into nursing school, and thus, seemingly denied a shot at their dream career.

The good news? The dream of positively impacting patients and the greater community doesn't begin and end with nursing school admission. Options abound for aspiring nurses and healthcare professionals. Some seek LPN certificates in hopes of working in the profession at a lower level before trying once again for admission in Bachelor of Science programs. Others enter pre-nursing programs in hopes of building the academic and clinical skills necessary for entry into—and success within—nursing school.

Often, aspiring nurses seek alternate paths once they realize that they are not called to nursing after all. Despite taking their career in a new direction, these individuals typically maintain a clear focus on medicine, health, and wellness. Ultimately, there are many ways to serve—and no one path is inherently superior.

Cross-Over and Alternate Careers for Aspiring Nurses

Nursing is just one of many rewarding career opportunities for those passionate about patient care and community wellness. Many alternate careers involve clinical care, while others go beyond typical healthcare settings. Detailed below are a few of the many cross-over and alternate career options that allow would-be nurses to make the most of their natural talents and passion:


Aspiring nurses who prefer to work in clinical settings may find promising opportunities in phlebotomy—a branch of medicine that deals primarily with the drawing of blood. Many phlebotomists are responsible for taking patient blood samples for further medical testing. Others work in mobile blood banks or at plasma donation centers.

Entry-level positions in phlebotomy can often be obtained with a certificate or two-year degree, although opportunities for advancement are far more promising after obtaining medically-focused degrees in biomedical research or related subjects. According to PayScale, the average phlebotomist earns an hourly wage of $14.72—but higher pay may be available with proper academic credentials or experience in the field.

Medical Technology

Similar in many respects to phlebotomy, medical technology involves the gathering of extensive patient data in order to help physicians and other healthcare professionals make accurate diagnoses. Some medical technologists focus on drawing samples of blood and other body fluids or tissues, but many take a broader approach that may include monitoring drug levels or administering simple tests.

PayScale highlights an average hourly salary of $25.96 for medical technologists. Work settings and hours can vary, but most medical technologists spend the majority of their time in clinics or hospitals.

Health Coaching

Health coaching is an ideal career path for aspiring nurses who primarily are interested in the big picture. Employed by large companies, non-profit organizations, and even everyday individuals, health coaches work closely with clients to integrate a variety of wellness concepts into their everyday lives. Their instruction may encompass everything from nutrition and exercise to sleep hygiene or even meditation. By employing a holistic approach, they help patients achieve impressive long-term health outcomes.

Beyond the satisfaction of making a real difference in the lives of their charges, health coaches enjoy excellent earning potential. Data from PayScale suggests that the average health coach earns $20.26 per hour. Many set their own wages, however, with some achieving total annual salaries approaching $70,000 per year. What's more, these earnings can be achieved while maintaining an impressive work-life balance. Many health coaches craft flexible schedules that could be trickier to achieve within the confines of the nursing profession.

Nursing Home and Assisted-Living Administrators

Geriatrics represents a huge area of opportunity in the healthcare field, especially as members of the Baby Boomer generation retire and face the health conditions that commonly accompany aging. While geriatric nurses are in high demand, a wide array of other opportunities are available to those who desire to work with seniors.

Nursing home administration is an especially promising career path. Administrators are responsible for managing nursing homes to ensure that all residents receive quality care. They play a key role in maintaining a favorable quality of life for the residents they serve, regardless of the health conditions or personal struggles these individuals face.

Earning potential can be impressive for nursing home administrators, although a great deal depends on geographic region and the size of the facility. PayScale reports an average salary of $54,047 for assistant administrators and $89,079 for lead administrators. Earnings can be strengthened with the right degree, such as a Bachelor of Professional Studies in Aging Services. While administrators work long hours, many enjoy the career satisfaction that comes with making a positive difference in vulnerable communities.

From medical technology to nursing home administration, career opportunities abound for those who seek healthcare professions beyond nursing. If you wish to work in the medical industry or positively affect health outcomes across entire communities, you have the power to do so—even if you don't ultimately end up working as a registered nurse. The right degree can help you take the next step towards your dream career in healthcare.

If you’d like to learn more about professions that enable you to serve wholeheartedly and faithfully in your life’s work or want to learn more about a biblically-based, Christ-centered education at Geneva, we’d love to chat with you. For more information on how Geneva College can help you pursue your education goals, please phone us at 855-979-5563 or email

Opinions expressed in the Geneva Blog are those of its contributors and do not necessarily represent the opinions or official position of the College. The Geneva Blog is a place for faculty and contributing writers to express points of view, academic insights, and contribute to national conversations to spark thought, conversation, and the pursuit of truth, in line with our philosophy as a Christian, liberal arts institution.

Sep 24, 2019