People often ask me, “What do nurse practitioners actually do?”. It’s a great question, really. Nurse practitioners can practice in both clinical and non-clinical settings as well as in both inpatient and outpatient settings. In my opinion, this is one of the best parts about being an NP. Nurse practitioners are not limited to a specific practice setting, population, or specialty. Many people do not realize the breadth of career opportunities that exist for nurse practitioners. As a recent FNP graduate, I needed to determine what direction I wanted my career to take me. I wanted to understand all of my career options as a nurse practitioner before I determined my desired path. This important decision allowed me the opportunity to research various NP career paths, and I hope to share some of the knowledge I gained with you. I am going to outline ten unique NP career opportunities below, that I found very interesting during my research. I hope this helps you in your quest for the perfect path for you!
The first unique career opportunity to discuss is telemedicine. The need for telemedicine is rapidly increasing, and with that comes an increased demand for NPs in this capacity. Telemedicine aims to improve access to healthcare, patient convenience, and communication among patients and providers. Audio or video visits are utilized when face-to-face visits are not feasible or when it is preferred by the patient. Telemedicine offers nurse practitioners flexibility is many aspects including working from home and working during hours that are convenient for their schedule.
Next up is blogging! This is one of my personal favorites, which is why I chose to pursue it. Nurse practitioners can either choose to create their own blogs or may be hired by outside companies to share their expert opinion and experiences through blogging and other content creation. Whether it is done as a hobby, as a way to keep up to date, or as a way to boost income, blogging and freelance writing can be an excellent opportunity for nurse practitioners to share their voice and contribute to the nurse practitioner community.
3) Locum Tenens
Next, is Locum Tenens, which refers to temporary NP job opportunities. Locum tenens provides an excellent opportunity for NPs to gain experience in a variety of fields, travel to various places, and receive competitive compensation. In addition, since many NPs are unsure of their desired specialty area, locum tenens might be the perfect opportunity to help determine the desired area of practice for a future long-term position.
Next, is academics. With online and distance education on the rise, the need for doctorate-prepared nurse practitioners to teach key courses is also increasing. Many NP schools offer online programs, which provides a wonderful opportunity for NPs to gain teaching experience, stay up to date on medical advances, earn additional income, and invest in the success of future nurse practitioners, all from the comfort of their own home. Professors in this capacity can choose to either teach full-time or part-time while maintaining a concurrent clinical job.
5) Continuing Education Writing
Now, let’s discuss CE writing. CE companies often compensate NPs for writing educational modules, articles, and quizzes which are used by healthcare professionals for continuing medical education. This opportunity can be pursued concurrently with a full-time or part-time clinical job and also allows for the flexibility of working from home. Furthermore, this opportunity allows nurse practitioners to maintain clinical skills and knowledge and stay current with the rapidly changing field of medicine.
6) Retail Medicine
Next, is retail medicine. Retail clinics are rapidly increasing in number, and with that, comes an increased demand for nurse practitioners to practice in such clinics. Retail clinics provide a unique convenience for providers including flexible hours, smaller patient load, and lower patient acuity. In addition, retail clinics allow nurse practitioners a more relaxed, slow-paced job when compared to that of an internal medicine or inpatient NP job.
Let’s talk medical aesthetics. There is a huge demand for cosmetic nurse practitioners in our country right now. While registered nurses are able to perform some of the functions of a cosmetic NP, an advanced practice license is needed for the more invasive procedures that are often requested by patients. Cosmetic NPs work in outpatient settings, most commonly in medical spas, plastic surgery offices, or dermatology offices. Aesthetic nurse practitioners perform many procedures including Botox injections, fillers, laser therapies, and sclerotherapy. Additional training for these procedures is sometimes required but is readily available if needed.
8) Legal Consulting
The next opportunity to discuss is medical legal consulting. Nurse practitioners in this capacity have the opportunity to be a crucial part of a legal team. Legal NPs provide expert opinion regarding specific cases after reviewing medical records and patient testimonies. Legal NPs are also often asked to testify in court regarding cases they are involved in. The most common cases that require nurse practitioner input are malpractice and worker’s compensation cases. Many different organizations can hire NPs for this role but the most common are hospitals, insurance companies, and pharmaceutical companies.
9) Curriculum Development
Next, is curriculum development and academic consulting. Nurse practitioners are often employed by universities to provide advice and expert opinion on nursing education. NPs in this capacity are typically responsible for assessing the current curriculum, determining weaknesses and strengths and weighing-in on curriculum development. Nurse practitioners are well-positioned to provide input on educational material due to their extensive educational training and clinical background.
10) Business Consulting
Last, but certainly not least, is business consulting. Many start-up companies develop innovative methods to improve healthcare delivery and medical practice using technological advances. In order for these technological advances to be successful, expert opinion is often needed from healthcare providers, including NPs. Nurse practitioners are trained to employ critical thinking, which is needed when critiquing new technology from a medical perspective. Business consulting provides an exciting opportunity for nurse practitioners to be a part of the business world, while utilizing their medical skills and education.
As you can see, there are many paths that nurse practitioners can take in their careers, and the opportunities are only expanding. I hope this list helped increase your understanding of the wide variety of NP career opportunities. Best of luck in your journey! I hope you find the perfect fit for you.
Madeleine Skousen, MSN, FNP-C
Madeleine has been an APPAA contributor since 2020. Madeleine received her family nurse practitioner degree from Georgetown University.