What You Can Do with a Doctorate in Nursing in Non-Clinical Settings

What You Can Do with a Doctorate in Nursing in Non-Clinical Settings
What You Can Do with a Doctorate in Nursing in Non-Clinical Settings

Recent decades have brought increasing integration between healthcare and business, and also between health care and education. This growing collaboration creates an opportunity to explore what you can do with a doctorate in nursing beyond clinical care. 

Positions for a Doctor of Nursing (DNP) are expanding in areas ranging from education to business to health policy to telemedicine. For those wondering about career options beyond clinical practice, opportunities abound.

The leadership, analytical, and organizational skills of a DNP translate well into today’s demanding job field. Many business and government sectors are actively soliciting DNPs to fill medically-oriented roles.

DNPs may occasionally need additional on-the-job training or other classes. However, many courses that a DNP already takes covering policy and leadership support roles outside of direct patient care.

At a nursing summit, a Health Resources & Services Administration (HRSA) administrator observed the many viable fields beyond clinical practice. She noted, “There is almost no wrong career door that a nurse can walkthrough. A lot of doors are increasingly unlocked and ready for nurses to push open”. 


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The Appeal Beyond Clinical Practice

Abundant options are available for what you can do with a doctorate in nursing. You may be surprised by what you can do with a doctorate in nursing to impact academics, government, or the business sector. If your passion expands beyond patient care to business leadership or education, a DNP is a practical degree.

The article “Nurse Practitioners—Celebrating 50 Years of Role Development” in The Journal of Nurse Practitioners interviewed 18 NP pioneers. Each of their titles fall outside clinical practice. Their positions are educators, administrators, organizational leaders, and activists, showcasing what you can do with a doctorate in nursing.

Policy-makers, entrepreneurs, executives, and medical writers are also growing roles for those with a DNP.


The Burgeoning Need for DNP Careers Outside Clinical Practice

Recent years have seen an increasing demand for NPs within clinical practice. Parallel with that increasing demand is a need for DNPs outside clinical practice in education and administration.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects the growth for medical services managers to be 18% in the coming years. This growth rate is much faster than the growth rate for the average job.

They also project an additional 71,600 positions will be created. Examples of this type of role include nursing home administrator or clinical manager.

According to BLS, medical and health services managers have a median salary of $99,730 per year. The median salary for a postsecondary teacher is $78,470.


What You Can Do with a Doctorate in Nursing to Impact Education and Business

Many influential roles that impact large numbers of patients’ health and well-being do not involve direct patient care. Educators in schools of nursing, executives in health systems, and health policymakers encompass what you can do with a doctorate in nursing.

Educational and management options are well-established DNP roles. They pave the way for DNPs to influence the next generation of nurses and the coming years in businesses. They are also prolific roles with an increasing need for DNPs to fill them.

Effecting change through nurse administration can enable DNPs to ensure the well-being and accountability of their nursing colleagues. Moving from direct patient care into administration may also enable NPs to safeguard numerous patients and entire organizations.

DNPs are sorely needed in higher education. The field of nurse practitioners is growing at a rate of 26%, which is much faster than the rate of family physicians. Universities need more qualified instructors to fill the roles and ensure a strong future for health care. 

For educators, narrowing the gap between clinical practice and education is what you can do with a doctorate in nursing. As one academic article notes, “Faculty with a DNP . . . can bring theoretical concepts to life with authority in the classroom”.


What You Can Do with a Doctorate in Nursing Outside of Healthcare Facilities

Hospitals, clinics, and private practice are traditional work environments for DNPs. Some institutions that hire nurse administrators are hospitals, outpatient clinics, mental health facilities, health care systems, and medical offices. But government facilities and rehabilitation centers, among others, also need this role.

Many educators are moving online as schools embrace distance education to accommodate increasing numbers of students in classrooms. DNPs are ideal to teach foundational courses to undergraduates. They can also teach policy, evidence-based practice, and leadership to graduate students.


What You Can Do with a Doctorate in Nursing to Shape Policy

Influencing the shape of health regulations is one part of what you can do with a doctorate in nursing. Experts recognize the need for DNPs to have a role in influencing health policy. An HRSA administrator noted that having nurse leaders in public policy is “an absolute necessity for the nation’s health care”.

Another article noted that HRSA is actively recruiting nurses with advanced degrees to fill policy-related positions. HRSA is the primary federal agency for improving access to healthcare for people who are uninsured or medically vulnerable.

Those with a passion for public health policy are naturally suited to these roles. A course load that includes policy, as well as clinical studies, will further equip students. Several Marymount MSN courses, including Policy and Advocacy in Health Care, enable DNPs well to transition into these roles.

Shaping policy appeals to a proactive sector of DNPs. However, more traditional options are working as professors in nursing schools or as health administrators. These positions allow DNPs to exercise management and teaching skills.   


What You Can Do with a Doctorate in Nursing as a Nurse Administrator

After several years of experience, a DNP may choose to take on more leadership and responsibility. Nursing administration is a broad and popular career path for what you can do with a doctorate in nursing.

This is usually a managerial role. Nurse administrators may oversee other nurses to ensure smooth clinical operations and excellent patient care. It is sometimes an executive role; a nurse administrator may manage an entire health system.

In either scenario, nursing administration blends the advanced nursing skills of a DNP with business and leadership skills. Nurse administrators can know that they are strong influencers of the level and value of broad patient care.

While clinics and hospitals are traditional employers, the insurance industry and healthcare organizations also hire DNPs in administration. The operation a nurse administrator oversees may be as small as a family practice or as large as an entire healthcare system.


Typical Responsibilities

Managing nursing staff, including their personnel and schedules, are among what you can do with a doctorate in nursing in this role. Executive roles may also include involvement in larger business aspects of an organization, such as goal-setting, budgeting, and human resources.

A traditional nurse administrator role may come with several different titles, including the director of nursing or chief nursing officer. Among a typical nurse administrator’s job, responsibilities may be:

  • Overseeing budgets
  • Resolving service problems
  • Handling patient complaints
  • Managing staff and their schedules and caseloads
  • Consulting on complex cases
  • Implementing policy
  • Interviewing and hiring nurses
  • Serving as a liaison between a board of directors or executives and nursing staff

Several DNP courses, including Leadership, Quality, and Ethics in Healthcare, prepare them well for tasks in both clinical work and nurse administration.

Finally, medical administration is traditionally well-paid. The specific title of a nurse administrator is not listed by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. However, one site lists the range from $104,634 to $149,353, depending on the state.


What You Can Do with a Doctorate in Nursing as a Nurse Educator

The ability to combine nursing aptitude with a love for teaching is a strong option for what you can do with a doctorate in nursing. DNPs who become educators can know they are having a profound influence on future years of patient care. DNPs can bring their clinical experience and insight into the classroom.

Many nurse practitioner skills translate well to those of a nurse educator. A nurse educator must have a strong clinical background, communication skills, and sound leadership. 

Nurse educators serve a great need. The demand for qualified nurse educators is growing, according to AACN (American Association of Colleges of Nursing) and the National Academies of Medicine. Universities and research sites are seeking nurses holding doctoral degrees to help grow a burgeoning field.

Online education is a growing option for nurse educators due to student need and a lack of nurse faculty. DNPs should pursue faculty development resources and prepare to educate in an online environment before accepting such a role.

Nurse educators may also be able to conduct first-hand research, publish in scholarly journals, and speak at conferences.


Typical Responsibilities

Nurse educators can know they are having a robust influence on the clinical mastery of the next generation of nurses. An AACN study concluded that a DNP is the best fit to educate other advanced practice nurses in healthcare. In addition to teaching in clinical education, DNPs who work as educators may also influence nursing policy.  

Among a nurse educator’s job responsibilities may be:

  • Curriculum development
  • Teaching in-person lectures
  • Teaching online lectures
  • Leading lab or clinical work
  • Serving as a mentor or advisor

Nursing students who wish to teach at the university-level should pursue their advanced nursing degree. Additional requirements equipping DNPs to teach will vary by each educational institution.

The specific title of a nurse educator is not listed by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. However, one site estimates the median salary for DNP faculty jobs is $88,246.


What You Can Do with a Doctorate in Nursing in Lesser-Known Career Options

While voluminous nurse practitioner career options are available in educational arenas or business institutions, possibilities exist outside those settings. Some may be surprised by what you can do with a doctorate in nursing, including careers in technology and publishing.

DNPs, according to one DNP-turned-writer, are uniquely “poised to fill roles in politics, technology, writing, and education.” The writer holds a doctorate in nursing and now works with Microsoft as a researcher. She notes that nurse practitioners may work as medical consultants for law firms, healthcare tech startups, or insurance companies.

Technology is another option for what you can do with a doctorate in nursing. A growing field is medical informatics, which is using data and knowledge to improve health services. This field combines computer and information science with medical knowledge, allowing innovative approaches to health care.

Medical informatics deals with a variety of biological systems. Courses such as Health Care Data Analysis can help prepare DNPs for this type of field.

For DNPs with business acumen, entrepreneurial options are part of what you can do with a doctorate in nursing. Options are also available for business consulting and business blogging.

Medical writing is also a lesser-known option for what you can do with a doctorate in nursing. Blogging and creating articles and curriculum are outlets for DNPs who love to write.

Publishers and curriculum developers need writers of medical education. Medical businesses and biotech firms need writers to produce promotional copy.

Several nurse practitioner traits help DNPs transition smoothly into non-clinical roles. Many more expert positions require an advanced nursing degree, which DNPs already have. DNPs also often have some experience in nursing through clinical practice that has enabled them to exercise management skills.   


The Next Step in Your Nursing Career

Are you ready for the next step in exploring your nurse practitioner career options? Learn more about what you can do with a doctorate in nursing at Marymount University Online with our DNP-FNP program and our post-master's DNP program.


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