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I am a Russian speaker, hi! :D and yes, you can really use Instrumental everywhere. For Translative, Locative, Essive etc (just like in the examples below):
В те годы я работал врачом. 
I worked as a doctor those times. 

It doesn't necessarily mean I usually work as a doctor or I am a doctor really. 

Cf.

Я врач. 
I am a doctor. No doubt. 

Ребёнком я жил там. 
I lived there when I was a child (~Essive). 

Well, it seems everything was already copied from the site, so I just repeat. But I may notice that between

Он был хороший человек. 
Он был хорошим человеком. 
(He was a good person)
...the first one sounds like he is already dead or lived even before I was born. But it could be my idiolect. 

Victoria. 
Sent from my iPhone

> On 09 Jun 2016, at 08:38, MorphemeAddict <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> 
> The best explanation I could find is here:
> 
> http://russianlearn.com/grammar/category/instrumental
> 
> (The red letters indicate stressed vowels.)
> 
> 
> *(b) **Predicates with the verb **быть*
> 
> In the present tense the implied verb is always followed by the
> nomina­tive: Он доктор. – Не is a doctor.
> 
> In the past tense, the predicate is usually in the instrumental:
> 
> Его отец был известным инженером.
> 
> His father was a well-known engineer.
> 
> The instrumental may often indicate a temporary condition – hence its
> frequent usage with *тогда*, *в* *то* *время*, etc.
> 
> Я был тогда офицером.
> 
> I was an officer back then.
> 
> В то время Москва быламаленьким городом
> 
> At that time Moscow was a small town.
> 
> With a statement expressing something permanent, independent of time, the
> nominative predicate is used:
> 
> Он был брат моей бабушки.
> 
> Не was the brother of my grandmother.
> 
> Его жена была русская.
> 
> His wife was a Russian.
> 
> *Note:  *There are many instances when either the instrumental or the
> nominative may be used (the latter more often in spoken Russian):
> 
> Он был очень милым человеком.
> 
> *Or**:*
> 
> Он был очень милый человек.
> 
> Не was a very nice man.
> 
> In the future, the predicate is normally in the instrumental:
> 
> Он будет инженером.
> 
> He will be an engineer.
> 
> The instrumental predicate must be used with быть in the infinitive:
> 
> Он хочет быть доктором.
> 
> Не wants to be a doctor.
> 
> 
> stevo
> 
> On Wed, Jun 8, 2016 at 11:57 PM, Logan Kearsley <[log in to unmask]>
> wrote:
> 
>>> On 8 June 2016 at 22:12, Gabriel Brinton <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>>> That's really cool. What nuance is it? is instrumental used for
>> attributes and nominative for assigning the subject a new identity?
>>> -Gabe
>> 
>> Russian uses the instrumental for everything *except* present-tense
>> indicative or interrogative. I.e., it uses nominative with
>> zero-copula, and instrumental when there's an explicit copula.
>> 
>> Sometimes you see nominative with explicit copulas as well, but I
>> never had that explained to me as anything other than a "correct" vs.
>> "incorrect but people say it anyway" distinction. Do we have any
>> native Russian speakers who can shed more light on that?
>> 
>> 
>> 
>>>> On Wednesday, June 8, 2016 9:07 PM, MorphemeAddict <[log in to unmask]>
>>> wrote:
>>> Russian does something similar with the instrumental case, but IIRC it's
>> a
>>> choice between instrumental and nominative, with a nuance between the
>> two.
>>> 
>>> stevo
>>> 
>>>> On Wed, Jun 8, 2016 at 10:28 AM, Mark J. Reed <[log in to unmask]>
>>> wrote:
>>> 
>>>> I just found out that Polish uses the instrumental case for predicate
>> nouns
>>>> (what we call "predicate nominatives" in English, but that obviously
>>>> doesn't apply here!).  I'm a big fan of case systems - all my conlangs
>> have
>>>> several - and it never occurred to me to do something like that in an
>>>> otherwise accusative language.
>>>> 
>>>> What other cases get used for that role in natlangs? What case mappings
>>>> have surprised you?
>>>> 
>>>> --
>>>> Mark J. Reed <[log in to unmask]>
>>