Unexpected Ways to Diversify Your Career Without a DNP

A nurse practitioner recently emailed me asking how to “diversify or advance [herself] professionally and not necessarily by becoming a DNP”. This is a question a lot of us as nurse practitioners are asking. Our time in the clinic or hospital seeing patients becomes routine and we’re ready to mix things up a bit. But, we don’t necessarily want to go back to school. The DNP doesn’t seem like it will necessarily lead to the professional change we’re looking for. 

Like this questioning NP, I too reached a point in my nurse practitioner career when I wanted to branch out. While I still enjoy patient care, starting ThriveAP gave me a forum for connecting professionally with other healthcare providers and using other non-clinical skill sets. Fortunately as a nurse practitioner there are several ways to diversify yourself professionally without going back to school. Here are a few that many NPs neglect to consider. 

1. Volunteer

Whether you’re looking for a career transition that will help support your salary requirements or simply one that will provide some variety, volunteering can be a great way to accomplish professional diversification. Volunteer opportunities abound for nurse practitioners. Consider taking an international trip and providing care for patients abroad. Or, volunteer locally in a clinical setting different from that in which you’re employed. Not only will these be skill-building experiences, they also help get your foot in the door with various organizations that might provide employment opportunities within or outside of the clinical setting in the future. 

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2. Work with Uncle Sam

Healthcare is not only a huge industry in the private sector, the public sector is also heavily involved. From your state Board of Nursing to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, nurse practitioners may consider employment with local or federal governments. 

3. Get involved with professional organizations

Similar to government entities, professional nursing and nurse practitioner organizations also hire NPs for various roles. Do some due diligence before jumping on the employment bandwagon by becoming a member of professional organizations you’re interested in. This way, you can get to know leaders in the organization and assess your fit for the company before applying for employment. 

4. Hit the courtroom

Become a legal nursing expert. If you’ve been an NP for at least a handful of years, you can use your experience to weigh in on legal cases. Legal nurse experts consult with attorneys or insurance companies in need of a medical perspective on legal cases. This might include analyzing medical records, identifying a plaintiff’s future medical needs and costs, consulting on medical research and literature, and educating attorneys on medical issues. Consider attending a legal nurse training course to get your foot in the door as an expert. 

5. Show your business savvy

Providing medical care doesn’t just involve face time with patients. From insurance carriers and medical suppliers to pharmaceutical companies, software companies and more, there are a number of organizations involved in creating all that goes in to healthcare. Many of these companies hire healthcare providers like nurse practitioners for various roles from product development and consulting to marketing and copywriting. If you have a background in business or are looking to make this a part of your professional profile, working in a healthcare-related business is an option for NPs interested in branching out.  

6. Educate

Many nurse practitioners consider working in the academic sector. Typically they think about doing this by teaching at a university. But, why not inspire the younger generation by teaching a health course at a local middle or high school? Get your foot in the door by contacting local schools to serve as a guest speaker for a class or two. If working in a college or university is more your speed, ask to guest lecture on a topic within your specialty to get your start. 

7. Precept a NP student

Is a drastic career transition out of your realm? Consider precepting a NP student. Precepting not only adds some variety to your workday, it also forces you to keep up with the latest in evidence based practice

8. Choose your own adventure

If you’re looking for flexibility and autonomy, starting your own business or consulting service can be a way for you to attain this workflow as a nurse practitioner. But, how do you get started as an entrepreneur? Look for problems in your current workplace. What solutions might you propose? How can you improve patient care? Find your solution to a common healthcare problem and start from there!

How have you diversified your career as a nurse practitioner without a DNP?


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