Diversified roles — such as nonclinical jobs where nurses do not provide direct patient care — are expanding nurses’ opportunities. Nursing informatics and case managers are examples of nonclinical jobs. Nurses with strong clinical skills can translate their experience into jobs that provide patient support and education.
“We’re helping coordinate care [for patients released from the hospital with complex or chronic conditions] from one setting to the next, often alongside other nurses who are also outside of the clinical setting, such as telehealth,” said Nancy May, MSN, RN-BC, NEA-BC, president of the American Academy of Ambulatory Care Nursing. “We have an important impact on readmission rates and quality outcomes.”
The Lash Group in Frisco, Texas is part of AmerisourceBergen, which employs 300 clinical nurses throughout its network, who work with patients outside of hospitals and doctors’ offices. Lash Group is headquartered in Charlotte, North Carolina, with additional operational centers in California, Maryland and Pennsylvania.
Nurses working in nonclinical roles need robust assessment, teaching and listening skills, and the ability to work independently. The following three nurses represent some typical nonclinical jobs within the LASH Group.
Nurse educatorAubrey Blais, RN
Aubrey Blais, MSCN, RN, a nurse since 2001, has been a field nurse educator for eight years. Previously, she was the clinical educator for a cardiac cath lab. Now she specializes in educating and training patients with MS in their homes about proper use of their medications.
Q: What is your nursing role?
Blais: I work remotely from my home in Jacksonville, Fla. visiting patients within my territory. I begin with each patient by training them about their medication therapy and how to inject their meds, then continue to work with them during their treatment.
Q: How is your work different from a clinical nursing job?
Blais: I have a totally different level of care with the patient by going into their home and empowering them by teaching them about their disease and treatment. The education gives me more engagement with the patient. What I teach and how I can assist the patients make the difference between a noncompliant, nonadherent patient and one who is fully compliant and adherent with medication therapy. Patients also call me to help with problems [related to meds]. But I don’t do direct care; my role is only training and support with their MS medication therapy.
Q: How many patients are you responsible for?
Blais: My territory includes 450 patients and encompasses a large area from North Carolina to Florida.
Q: What advice might you offer a nurse interested in nonclinical nursing?
Blais: Make sure you get into a setting that you’re passionate about. Patients can feel your passion. Be willing to learn everything you need to be an expert in your field.
Jan Porter, MSCN, RN, is a telehealth nurse. Previously, she was a diabetic educator in a Dallas hospital for six years. Her first Lash position was handling inbound calls related to drugs [used by patients in the field] and providing adverse-event reporting.
Q: What are your responsibilities as a telehealth nurse?
Porter: I take calls from patients with MS and help them with their treatment needs, everything from ordering their meds to the affordability of therapy. I offer solutions and explain things patients don’t understand about their disease state.
Q: How does your role differ from a clinical nurse role?
Porter: I’m there for the support patients need. Many times they leave the doctor’s office with a new diagnosis and they’re in a state of shock and have questions. It’s about diving deep into the details to hear what the patient is saying and then giving them solutions about treatment needs.
For example, one barrier patients face is moving from their work insurance to Medicare. Traditionally, that only has a 33% co-pay at the beginning of the year, which is shocking for patients who need specialty drugs. I can refer them to foundations that assist with the cost. Some patients need help getting to the doctor’s office; patients in a chronic disease state have multiple needs.
Q: How can other nurses get onto a similar career path?
Porter: This is a growing avenue for nursing, but many don’t know it exists. Become aware of opportunities beyond the hospital that allow nurses to use their cumulative experience in a new way.
Susan Stinson, BSN, RN, FACHE, is Lash Group’s senior vice president of operations, clinical services. Before joining Lash 15 years ago, she worked in a private cardiac surgery practice.
Q: How is your managerial role related to patient care?
Stinson: My work is all about putting the best teams in place to educate patients on their medications. I make sure we have the processes, technology, structures and procedures in place to support nurses who work with patients on the phone and in the field.
Q: How are Lash Group nurses trained for their roles?
Stinson: RNs are supported and trained for their patient education role as part of the onboarding process. In addition, each RN receives program-specific training from the Lash Group and drug and disease-state training from the manufacturer. All nurses are encouraged to seek certification in their area of specialty. Lash Group clinical services provides a peer-mentoring approach, which is designed to assist nurses seeking certification.
Q: Can you share a tip for moving into nonclinical nursing?
Stinson: Every nurse should have a mentor to help them think outside the box and evaluate other opportunities. Networking and educational activities are ways to broaden one’s horizons and reach beyond where you are today.