How to Find a Nursing Job That You Will Love

Deborah Chiaravalloti - 04/14/19

You became a nurse because you wanted to care for others and play a role in their healing. You thought you knew exactly where you wanted to work...and then the realities and pressures of the healthcare industry got in the way and now you aren’t sure where you should be practicing. Fortunately, there are many diverse environments for you to practice your skills. Nurses are no longer constrained to working in a traditional hospital or skilled nursing setting. There are hundreds of opportunities and it is possible to find a nursing job you love. Here are some tips on how to make that happen.

The first step is to determine your priorities for the job. What makes you happiest in your chosen field? Once you know the answers, you can begin to sort through the thousands of job openings that exist across the country and avoid situations that will be unsatisfactory to you. Which is most important to you?

  • Salary level
  • Work environment and type of facility
  • Type of patient care

Salary level: According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average salary for nurses in the United States, by healthcare facility, is as follows:

  • Government agencies: $78,390
  • Hospitals: state, local and/or private: $73,650
  • Ambulatory healthcare services: $68,320
  • Nursing and residential care facilities: $63,990
  • Education services; state, local and/or private: $61,850

 Work environment: With thousands of job openings, you can find opportunities in a wide ranging and diverse number of healthcare facilities and work environments. They include, but are not limited to:

  • Physician offices
  • Home healthcare
  • Outpatient care centers
  • Ambulatory care and surgical centers
  • Specialty clinics including oncology and orthopedics
  • Hospitals
  • Rehabilitation and skilled nursing centers
  • The military
  • Public health departments in government and healthcare organizations
  • Community health care centers
  • Schools
  • Telemedicine work from home
  • Travel nursing
  • Government agencies

 Patient care: There are as many different types of patient care as there are practice environments. says there are more than 200 sub-specialties in nursing. We can’t list them all, but here is a short selection of specialties that may help you think about the type of patient care you want to provide:

  • Addiction care for patients suffering from various types of addiction and substance use
  • Cardiovascular care specializing in heart disease and cardiac rehab
  • Critical care provided in intensive-care units in hospitals
  • Genetics care providing screening, counseling, and treatment for patients with genetic disorders, such as cystic fibrosis.
  • Neonatology caring for premature and critically ill newborns
  • Nephrology caring for patients with kidney-related health issues
  • Public health nursing including education, infectious disease control and immunizations
  • Emergency care in hospitals and walk-in ER clinics
  • Specialty transport nursing like air ambulances
  • Rehabilitation caring for patients with temporary or permanent disabilities.
  • Psychiatric mental health care
  • Pediatrics

 Other types of nursing do not involve direct patient care. These include:

  • Nurse educators
  • Healthcare consultants
  • Public policy advisors
  • Researchers
  • Hospital administrators
  • Salespeople for pharmaceutical and medical supply companies
  • Medical writers and editors

As you can see, there are many different nursing opportunities from which to choose. Think about them carefully. Once you decide on the type of salary, work environment, and patient care that is best for you, you can launch a targeted search for the perfect job. However, before you begin, there are a few more questions to answer – and they are very personal. These factors are essential to put into the mix. Without considering them, you may not find a job that fits you over the long term.  

  • How much energy do you have for the job and when do you have it?
    • Are you a morning person or do you struggle mightily to get up for a 7 am start time?
  • What are you passionate about?
    • Do you like to work with adults, children, or do you love to teach?
  • Have you burned out working directly with patients?
  • Do you thrive on pressure and an unpredictable environment like an emergency room or do you like a more orderly environment like rehabilitation or school nursing?
  • Do you want to travel and are you well-suited to constantly entering new work environments?

The answers to all these questions will guide you to the right job for you. You are a nurse. Healthcare needs you. Now go ahead and find the perfect place to use your skills!