So you want to become a nurse. Helping people is your jam. Of course, working in a highly-skilled, well-respected profession that saves lives would be incredibly rewarding. But, let’s face it, all of that life-saving work can also be a little bit stressful.
Perhaps you’ve watched medical dramas on TV. They may have even inspired you to look into this profession! Or maybe you’ve dipped your toes in the healthcare field before, but wish to advance your role. Whatever the reason, you’re on this journey and you want to make a difference. But maybe not at the risk of your own physical and mental health. Don’t worry. There are plenty of lower-key nursing jobs that won’t have you running around the Emergency Department of a hospital, or helping patients in critical care. Let’s explore some of the least stressful nursing jobs – or at least the lesser of the stressful nursing jobs – out there, and how you can achieve them.
Do stress-free nursing jobs exist?
First, let’s tackle this question that may be on your mind right about now. Are stress-free nursing jobs really a thing? The truth is, you can find stress in any job you work – and nursing is no exception. There is always a little bit of stress when it comes to taking care of the health and well-being of other humans. But the stress isn’t outrageous. According to U.S. News, registered nursing is rated 4/10 in stress levels, which is actually better than the average occupation. And, there are a few nursing jobs out there that are relatively lower in stress than others.
Of course, the perceived level of stress will vary depending nurse to nurse. Someone who loves working with children may not find pediatric nursing at a doctor’s office very stressful. But someone who prefers to work with older adults might spin at the thought of giving vaccines to a fussy two-year-old.
So while there is some level of stress involved, you can find some nursing jobs that don’t stress you out. It will depend on the specialty that you find interesting, rewarding, and most fulfilling. That said, it can be helpful to understand what “nurse stress” is all about, and where it stems from.
What are common causes of stress for nurses?
Just like there is some level of stress in any career, there are also some stress factors that will vary by nurse. The screaming two-year-old we described may not phase you, but the potential flu outbreak at the hospital might cause some anxiety. It all depends on the person.
Some overall, common stressors that are most-often associated with nursing include:
- Pressure of care-based decisions
- Mental fatigue (due to difficult patients or tragic cases)
- Physical fatigue
- High volume of patients seen per shift
- “Shared trauma” from patients’ severe injuries/illnesses
- Level of skill, accuracy, and attentiveness required
- Healthcare politics impacting care
- Conflict with colleagues
- Administrative pressure/time and resource restraints
The chances of you finding a nursing job that is completely free of any of the above stressors is slim to none. Again, this is the nature of the profession. While some of this stress is unavoidable, it can be made better with the right attitude, passion, and level of commitment to the patient care. Putting patients first within a field that you find most exciting and meaningful – with a level head – is often the best way to steer clear of drama in the workplace.
Now that we’ve got a better understanding of some of the stress factors most commonly associated with nursing, let’s dive into those “least stressful nursing jobs” we promised you.
9 Low-Stress Nursing Careers
- Clinic Nurse
A clinic nurse is a registered nurse (RN) that works in a doctor’s office with patients – in a low-stakes kind of way – every single day. Some of the core responsibilities of a clinic nurse include, but are certainly not limited to:
- Assessing patients before an appointment
- Administering vaccines/drawing blood for testing
- Speaking with patients over the phone to determine the need for care
- Educating patients on a variety of topics
Some benefits of this role is its consistency in routine, such as a typical 9-5 workday and holidays off, and a lower stress environment overall. You will mostly handle preventative care, as patients who are in serious condition are sent to the hospital. There is also great variety in this role. For example, if you have an interest in prenatal care you may choose to be a clinic nurse at an OB/GYN office. If you love working with children, you may choose a pediatric office as your work home.
- Nurse Educator
This is the perfect role for any nurse (or prospective nurse) who also has an interest in teaching. Nurse educators help pave the way for the next generation of nurses. Whether you have years of experience or are just starting out, becoming a nurse educator is an incredibly rewarding, low-stress role because you are not working directly with patients. Rather, you are teaching new and aspiring nurses how to provide the best possible patient care.
- Lactation Consultant Nurse
Thanks to a recent wave of advocacy and awareness, breastfeeding is more popular among American moms than in previous generations. Getting the hang of it, however, can be extremely challenging for new mothers and their babies. Between latch problems and low supply, mothers face a variety of struggles when starting out on their breastfeeding journey. Lactation consultant nurses help guide young mothers through their breastfeeding challenges. They may work in hospitals, healthcare facilities, and even make home-visits. This is a relatively low-stress nursing role that brings beautiful little babies into a nurse’s everyday work life!
- Long-Term Care Nurse
Just as you may suspect from the name, Long-Term Care (LTC) Nurses work with patients whose medical conditions require extended maintenance. LTC nurses often work with the elderly in nursing homes or assisted-living facilities, or in other rehabilitation settings for disabled or chronic care patients. This role is relatively low in stress, and many nurses enjoy the ability to build longer-term relationships with patients in long-term care settings.
- Nurse Researcher
If you have a passion for gathering research, data, and following medical trends, you may be cut out for the role of nurse researcher. The setting for this kind of nurse is often colleges and universities. There is no critical care involved with this job, and very little direct patient care, if any. As a result, this role is low in stress, but it is incredibly important, as nurse researchers focus on improving patient care with their research.
- Public Health Nurse
Public health nurses work to improve the overall health and well-being of those within communities and populations. This role typically involves educating the public on disease prevention, the importance of good hygiene, nutrition, and health, and increasing awareness of other various medical issues that arise.
This is considered a low-stress nursing job since one of the main responsibilities is to stay up-to-date on the latest health programs and procedures, and then passing on the information to communities in need. Typically, there is less handling critical patient needs in a public health nursing role.
- School (and/or Summer Camp) Nurse
You may have loved visiting the school nurse as a kid (just us?). The school nurse is usually very sweet, caring, and always has deep concern for that “tummy ache” that hits right before the math test. School and summer camp nurses typically treat basic conditions, like very minor injuries and illnesses and administering necessary medications. They also communicate with the parents – and sometimes doctor’s office – what is going on. Due to the minor cases received by a school nurse, this role is typically considered low-stress.
School nurses also enjoy the scheduling perks within the education system, such as shorter workdays as well as summers and holidays off. Of course, just because this role is lower in stress does not make it unimportant. School and summer camp nurses care for children on a daily basis, which makes it an incredibly rewarding career.
- Telehealth nurse
Have you ever called a health-related hotline with a question? Chances are, you’ve worked with a telehealth nurse. This role is growing in popularity as our world goes more digital than ever before.
Telehealth nurses spend their days fielding questions related to healthcare, following-up with patients to check on status, and relaying messages to doctors and other healthcare professionals. This is considered low-stress because the cases are typically not emergencies.
- Travel Nurse
If you have ever experienced wanderlust, you may consider pursuing the role of a travel nurse. Various travel-related businesses – such as airlines, resorts, and cruise lines – need nurses for their guests. As a travel nurse, your typical responsibilities would include treating minor illnesses and injuries and advising travelers to seek further care. Bonus perk: travel nurses get to see the world and experience new destinations on the job!
These are considered some of the least stressful nursing jobs out there today. If you are looking for one of the least stressful paths for landing one of these roles, your best next step is a low-stress, accredited nursing program to get there! Goodwin University offers many flexible and reputable programs within the nursing field – including an associate, bachelor’s and master’s degree in Nursing – with online and fast-paced course options available.
If you would like to learn more about the nursing programs at Goodwin University, call 1-800-889-3282 or visit us online to request more information.
Goodwin University is a nonprofit institution of higher education and is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE), formerly known as the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC). Goodwin University was founded in 1999, with the goal of serving a diverse student population with career-focused degree programs that lead to strong employment outcomes.