When you think of nursing, you typically imagine nurses being in a clinical setting. Whether that's a nurse in a doctor's office, in the hospital, or maybe even a school nurse. Nurses have a ton of knowledge and value to offer their communities, including outside a clinical setting. Nurse practitioners are especially sought after in a variety of industries to contribute their expertise. If you're a nurse and ready to take your career to the next level, then taking nurse practitioner programs is the best way to get you off the floor and using your knowledge for another path.
There are many reasons a nurse may want to pursue a non-clinical career opportunity. You may have already been working as a registered nurse for many years. The irregular hours and long days on your feet may have been acceptable to start with, but you're ready for a change. You may want to continue helping people with your training and expertise but indirectly. Alternatively, you may have never worked as a registered nurse, but obtained your qualifications specifically to work in a non-clinical setting.
Regardless of which scenario describes you, there are many fascinating and fulfilling job opportunities available for nurse practitioners that are not in hospitals or clinics.
What is a nurse practitioner?
Nurse practitioners are registered nurses who have gone on to take nurse practitioner programs to upgrade their degree. Nurse practitioners receive more specialized education and intense clinical training to prepare them to handle a greater variety of scenarios. Nurse practitioners also have the authority to perform many tasks that registered nurses (RN) cannot. RNs are not authorized to make any diagnosis, treat any illnesses, or prescribe medications, where nurse practitioners can. In many states, nurse practitioners can even operate their own private practices and don't require a licensed physician's oversight.
Nurse practitioners tend to focus on a specific healthcare sector that they are most interested in, such as pediatrics, psychology, dermatology, mental health, etc. They work to become experts in their field through extensive training and consistent upskilling. Nurse practitioners are required to pass a certification exam and have to renew their certification every five years.
What education do you need to become a nurse practitioner?
To become a nurse practitioner, you will first need to become a registered nurse. Many people choose to begin a role as a registered nurse while they continue to study online to gain on the job experience, but that isn't required. You also aren't required to have a BSN to become a registered nurse, although it is preferred and will help you on your path to becoming a nurse practitioner. Nurse practitioner programs will allow you to upgrade your BSN to an MSN and provide you with the in-depth training you need to work as a nurse practitioner. Once you've got your MSN, you can then take the national certification exam. Even if you don't decide to work in a clinical setting, you will still need to follow these steps to become a nurse practitioner and be qualified to work in other fields.
Whether you decide to start your career clinically or not is up to you, but here are some fantastic opportunities for those wanting to pursue a non-clinical path.
If you're a nurse practitioner who has a love for writing and editing, then a role as a medical editor might be perfect for you. While most people don't go to medical school with the goal of becoming an editor, it's a great way to use your in-depth medical knowledge to educate others. Many different companies and publications will hire medical editors to review their content to ensure it's fact-checked and accurate. Medical editors can choose to work in their chosen area of expertise and provide valuable information to those who consume content digitally and read traditional publications.
People have more access to information than ever through the Internet, but not all information is correct. When it comes to the healthcare industry, it is essential that there is reliable and accurate content out there that doesn't confuse readers or encourage them to do something that negatively impacts their health. Medical editors will create original content and edit the content created by others to determine its validity before publication.
Becoming a medical editor is a flexible career option for those who've taken nurse practitioner programs. It's a job that you can easily do remotely and choose to work full-time or part-time based on your personal preference. Medical editors must be critical and objective thinkers and avoid bringing extreme opinions or bias into their pieces. They need to make sure all content references facts and reputable research.
While the salary for a medical editor varies based on how much work you take on, those who have taken nurse practitioner programs and have their MSN earn, on average, $77,339 per year.
When universities or other nursing educators are developing content for their programs, they need the advice of a professional who knows their stuff. After completing nurse practitioner programs, you will have the qualification and authority to help educators improve and develop curriculums. Education consultants will do audits on already established programs to determine what they can improve on, giving their expert advice on revamping the content.
Education consultants should have fantastic written and verbal communication skills, on top of the clinical knowledge learned in nurse practitioner programs. Having some education training is an asset since you will have a thorough understanding of how the education system works. Education consultants will use various tactics to determine training programs' effectiveness, including analyzing the modules, media training materials, and curriculums. They will also examine students' performance in the program, including where students seem to excel and where they struggle. As an education consultant, you can work both in a traditional school setting or in an e-learning environment.
The average salary for an education consultant is around $63,725 per year.
Tech start-up advisor
Tech start-ups are popping up all over the place, and many of them are related to healthcare. The healthcare industry is always looking for ways to make healthcare more accessible, efficient, and convenient for patients, and many entrepreneurs want to get involved. Processes are continually being adapted and optimized to provide an easier way of doing things, whether with new software programs or smartphone apps. When it comes to start-ups, many entrepreneurs who are starting these endeavors are not specialists in the healthcare industry. Instead, they have the funding and development team behind them but need a healthcare professional's expertise to ensure their business's success.
Nurse practitioners are the best people for tech start-ups to have on board to ensure their product functions effectively and, most of all, is useful for their target audience. Whether the technology aims to help boost efficiency when dealing with patient documents or provide an interface for patients to book appointments, nurse practitioners know what will work. Taking nurse practitioner programs will equip you with clinical knowledge to identify features that will benefit the healthcare industry.
As a tech start-up advisor, you will help ensure the success of the company's technology by providing advice throughout all phases of launch, from the development of the product to the marketing of it and everything in between. If you're a tech-savvy nurse practitioner, then this could be a unique job opportunity for you.
As a tech start-up advisor, you can make an average annual salary of $90,615.
A career as a nurse researcher is perfect for those passionate, not only about taking care of their patients but finding better ways to do so. Nurse researchers are nurses who finish their nurse practitioner programs and are looking for a leadership role that allows them to make a difference. Many people who pursue this path begin as research assistants or clinical data coordinators to gain experience in the field and then move up to a lead researcher role.
Those who prefer the scientific aspect of healthcare instead of the patient interaction aspect are the best types for a nurse researcher role. You will both design and conduct scientific studies in all aspects of healthcare. Collecting and analyzing data is an integral part of this role, as well as creating thorough reports on your findings. Nurse researchers then use this data to find ways to improve various aspects of healthcare, from treatments and medications to how facilities deliver their services and the overall patient experience.
The studies you do can help improve the quality of life for people suffering from chronic illnesses or improve patient safety. Your research will help to guide other healthcare professionals and make a positive difference in the industry.
The type of research you conduct will depend on the medical facility or research group you work for. You might be focusing on nutrition or wellbeing research, or you could be focusing on pharmaceuticals. They even need nurse researchers to work in the engineering and equipment sectors.
A nurse researcher's average annual salary is around $95,000, making it one of the higher-paying career paths after taking nurse practitioner programs.
Licensed nursing facility administrator
For nurse practitioners who are after a management role in the healthcare industry, without much direct patient contact, then a career as a licensed nursing facility administrator is the perfect happy medium. Unlike the other jobs on this list, as a facility administrator, you will still be onsite with the residents. However, you likely won't have much direct contact with them, not in a clinical sense, anyways. Registered nurses work in the facility and take care of the residents and all their clinical needs. Instead, it will be your job to look after running the nursing facility's operational and administrative side.
Using the knowledge and training you've gained in nurse practitioner programs, you could effectively run the facility. You will be responsible for managing all the departments, from the clinical team to the custodial team, to ensure the facility runs effectively and serves its residents best. You are the go-to person for any staff concerns and work with your management team to address any concerns.
The role of a licensed nursing facility administrator is essentially the most important position at a nursing facility. They provide 24/7 care to people in need, and organization and impeccable management are critical for success. You will manage all the staff in the facility, but the job doesn't end there. You will also handle all new resident admissions, patient records, finances, compliance issues, and ensure all equipment is functioning and receives regular maintenance. If you're the type of person that thrives in a leadership role and likes wearing many hats, then a licensed nursing facility administrator is a great career option.
Licensed nursing facility administrators make an average annual salary of $100,980.
Taking nurse practitioner programs opens the door to various career possibilities that many people don't consider. Being a nurse practitioner doesn't mean you have to work in a hospital and work night shifts for your whole life, unless you want to. There are many progression and growth opportunities for those who want to move up the ladder and take on more responsibility, such as running your very own practice. On top of that, you will gain tons of beneficial knowledge that you can use to help patients and become an authority in your chosen field.
If you're passionate about a specific nursing area, you can choose to pursue it based on your training. Additionally, you can choose not to work in a clinical setting and go after one of the great career options mentioned above. Becoming a nurse practitioner gives you the flexibility to choose your own path and seamlessly move from one to the other if you want to. Whether you're a researcher who thrives in the lab studying and analyzing data or tech-savvy and passionate about creating efficient processes, there is a nurse practitioner career that is perfect for you. Good luck with your future endeavors in this exciting field!