Are you a practicing RN who wants to take your career to the next level and challenge yourself in new ways? The health sector is one of the fastest growing industries at the moment, and as the Baby Boomer generation continues to retire from the workforce, age, and require more hands-on care, the demand for healthcare professionals is only expected to grow. This means you’ve likely got an impressive array of career opportunities before you, especially if you are willing to pursue higher education.
One very attractive option for nurses is to pursue a doctoral degree. The Doctor of Nursing Practice or DNP degree is growing in popularity, and for good reason. Holding this degree will open a huge number of paths, all of which can be very exciting and rewarding. Here’s a look at six promising career paths for those who choose to pursue a DNP.
‘What can you do with a DNP?’ is probably one of the most common questions asked by those looking to progress in the medical field. Perhaps the most obvious career option to pursue with a DNP is that of nurse practitioner. The demand for NPs is growing across the entire country, so you really can’t go wrong with this career path. Some of the states that are showing the most growth for NPs include New York, Florida, Texas, California, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Georgia – which also happen to be some of the most populous states.
The healthcare industry is working hard to adapt to the growing pressures it is under, and people are learning just how valuable nurse practitioners can be, filling a gap that is growing at the moment.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, nurse practitioners, nurse midwives and nurse anesthetists are expected to grow by an incredible 40% during 2021-2031. The average pay is $123,780 which puts it at the higher end in the healthcare industry.
So, where can you expect to work as a nurse practitioner? They can be found in many settings such as clinics, physician’s offices, hospitals and more. You can also expect to work full-time hours and there is the possibility of shift work depending on the setting.
As an NP you will be providing primary care services in the areas of pediatric health, family health, acute care, gerontology and more. You will be able to assess, diagnose, order and interpret tests, work in conjunction with other medical professionals and prescribe medication.
Also lumped into the group with nurse practitioners in terms of rapid and massive job growth are nurse midwives. Your DNP will serve you well in this career path, providing you with the knowledge and training you need to provide care to women. Nurse midwives work with women from adolescence to menopause, and can play a pivotal role during prenatal care, childbirth and aftercare.
Many people in the healthcare industry have been calling for more nurse midwives, believing it can help lessen the load on the healthcare industry and improve patient health outcomes for moms and babies. Watch for this particular area to gain more traction, become more mainstream and continue to grow in terms of jobs.
Clinical Nurse Specialist
Here is an advanced role that is perfect for those who want to work directly with patients and also leave their mark on the healthcare industry, helping to mold it and change it for the better. As a clinical nurse specialist, you may act as an expert consultant for nurses, provide hands-on patient care, and work to improve the healthcare delivery model.
If you’re not interested in providing direct patient care, you have the option of working in a management position which is more of an administrative role. It will be up to you to create procedures, systems and processes that improve patient outcomes and ensure the flow of the healthcare setting.
Public Health Nurse
Not every nurse has to work in an emergency room, urgent care or clinic, which brings us to public health nurses. Your DNP will position you well for this very important role, which has been brought into the spotlight thanks to the pandemic.
In this role, you will provide health care services to at-risk and vulnerable populations of the public. Typically, these are people that have limited access to nurses and healthcare professionals. You’ll work on education, prevention, advocacy and more. It can be a very challenging yet highly rewarding job as it often requires a fair amount of activism.
For those who like more of the administrative side of things, this is another area that is experiencing high levels of job growth. As a nurse administrator, this is also a management position as you’ll be supervising health care workers and nurses. It will also fall under your umbrella of responsibility to recruit, hire, and train people, which can be a very intense operation.
With so many states having a nurse and healthcare worker shortage right now, nurse administrators are playing a vital role in helping to fill job vacancies.
Also in the category of administrative and management is a nurse educator. As the job title suggests, you will be training and educating nurses. This means you’re not working with patients directly, rather you are training the next generation of nurses to get out there and offer exceptional care. So, you will be shaping the future in a big way.
Nurse educators aren’t growing at the same speed and breadth as some of the other careers mentioned, but there are still job opportunities in the career path. The median wage for a nurse educator is $77,440 according to the US BLS.
As for what you will be teaching, it’s usually a combination of the best practices, patient care methods and clinical skills. It’s also common to find nurse educators in the research side of things, teaching hospital research, for example.
The good news is that, by pursuing your DNP, you will be opening up all kinds of higher-level career paths, with many leading to management positions. It’s a great way to ensure your career in the healthcare industry stays rewarding and exciting.