6 Nonclinical Nurse Practitioner Jobs

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Advanced practice nurses, including nurse practitioners, play a critical role in the American health care system. According to the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP), about 70% of these health care providers deliver primary care. In this way, nurse practitioners are helping to offset the current shortage of physicians, ensuring that patients can receive the best possible care from skilled and qualified professionals.

Some nurse practitioners, however, are interested in roles that don’t involve clinical work. The good news is that nurse practitioners have a number of career options available to them, including many opportunities to impact patient outcomes and ultimately to bolster the health care system without providing direct care. These nonclinical nurse practitioner jobs include roles in research, nurse education, health policy formation, and beyond.

No matter what type of clinical or nonclinical work a nurse wishes to pursue, they will need a comprehensive nursing skill set to succeed. One of the best ways to cultivate skills, and to prepare for a variety of potential career paths, is to earn an advanced degree such as a Bachelor of Science in Nursing to Doctor of Nursing Practice (BSN to DNP).

What Do Nurse Practitioners Do?

The AANP notes that, in a given year, Americans make more than 1.06 billion visits to nurse practitioners. This number only increases with each passing year, making nurse practitioners more and more the clinicians of choice for patients across the country. But what exactly is a nurse practitioner? And what do they do, either in clinical or nonclinical roles?

Nurse Practitioners at a Glance

Nurse practitioners are medical professionals who can provide a wide range of services to their patients, including diagnosing and treating illnesses, managing care for chronic conditions, and creating targeted disease prevention and wellness strategies. Nurse practitioners may work in acute care, primary care, or specialty care settings, depending on their credentials and certifications.

Nurse practitioners begin their careers as registered nurses (RNs), developing basic competencies in patient care. Through advanced training and education, nurses can become licensed as nurse practitioners, qualifying them to function as primary care providers. Nurse practitioners are playing an increasingly significant role in patient care, especially as many physicians leave the profession and as more rural areas, in particular, experience doctor shortages.

Pursuing Nonclinical Nurse Practitioner Jobs

Though a majority of nurse practitioners work in clinical roles, some prefer not to work directly with patients each day. The primary reasons for choosing nonclinical or online nurse practitioner jobs include:

  • Some nurse practitioners love the health care field, but are introverted by nature, and get burned out when interacting with patients all day. Less social positions in research or writing can satisfy the desire to impact health outcomes while also catering to introverted personalities.
  • It is not uncommon for nursing students to progress in their training and ultimately realize they dislike the sight of blood. Nonclinical nurse practitioner jobs are a great option for these individuals.
  • Following a rewarding career providing direct care for patients, some nurse practitioners may simply decide that they are ready to try something new, or to channel their experience into something like policy formation, education, or research.

How to Become a Nurse Practitioner

To qualify for either clinical or nonclinical nurse practitioner jobs, individuals need to follow the proper steps toward licensure. Here’s an overview of what it takes to begin working as a nurse practitioner.

Earn a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN)

The first step in the process is to earn an undergraduate nursing degree. Most nurse practitioner programs will require a BSN, even if the student already has a separate undergraduate degree in a different field.

Note that those who do have a degree in a different field can sometimes qualify for an accelerated BSN program, particularly if their previous degree path allowed them to fulfill some of the math and science prerequisites. An accelerated BSN program can sometimes be completed in just two years.

Nurses who have an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) may be candidates for an RN to BSN program, another accelerated option.

Obtain an RN License

After earning a relevant degree, the next step toward becoming a nurse practitioner is getting licensed as a registered nurse, or RN. The way to do this is by passing the National Council Licensure Examination, or NCLEX. This standardized examination tests nursing skill and critical thinking ability, and is required for getting licensed to practice at the state level.

To sit for the exam, an aspiring nurse must contact their state nursing board to request an authorization to test, or ATT. No one may sit for the NCLEX without having an ATT.

After successfully passing the NCLEX, nurses must apply for licensing at the state level. All states require nurses to be licensed, though the stipulations can vary slightly. Beyond passing the exam, paying a small licensing fee may also be required.

Earn an Advanced Degree

To become a nurse practitioner, practical experience as an RN can be helpful. Completing a more advanced degree program that builds on the skills and knowledge gained through the BSN is required.

One option is to enroll in a program for a Master of Science in Nursing, or MSN. This degree may be considered the next step up from the BSN. Having an MSN will be sufficient to qualify for the nurse practitioner exam.

Another option is to enroll in a BSN to DNP program to earn a Doctor of Nursing Practice. A DNP is a terminal degree, meaning it is the most advanced educational credential in the nursing field. A DNP is not mandatory to become a nurse practitioner, but it may help nurses gain higher level positions of leadership and authority. Additionally, earning a DNP can provide nurses with more advanced insight into nursing policy and other big-picture issues.

Get Licensed as a Nurse Practitioner

After completing a graduate program, the final step is sitting for a nurse practitioner exam. This national board certification exam will be focused on the nurse’s chosen field; for example, it may be an exam focused on primary care, women’s health, pediatric care, or mental health.

Once nurses pass this exam, they may apply for licensure as a nurse practitioner in their state. Depending on the state, nurse practitioners will likely need to renew their credential at regular intervals. This usually means completing continuing education credits, in order to keep their basic nursing skills sharp.

Nonclinical Nurse Practitioner Jobs

Upon earning licensure, nurse practitioners may begin providing clinical care to patients within the state where they are licensed. With that said, some nurse practitioners may be drawn to roles that aren’t clinical in nature, or that don’t require daily interaction with patients. A number of options are available to consider.

Nurse Researcher

One option is to become a nurse researcher. Nurse practitioners who take research positions play an essential role in obtaining and recording evidence that can be used to advance the nursing profession, shape the development of health policy, and promote healthy outcomes among patients.

Nurse researchers are scientific professionals who investigate different aspects of health, illness, and medical care. Their job is to develop research questions, design and implement scientific studies, evaluate their findings, and then record and share their findings via publication. These researchers often work in laboratories or in academic settings, and they are often funded by grant money.

Ultimately, the nurse researcher has the following goals:

  • Find ways to deliver clinical care more effectively and more efficiently.
  • Improve the quality of life for patients with chronic health conditions.
  • Provide better guidelines for other nursing professionals.
  • Promote safety within the nursing profession.

According to Payscale data, the annual median salary for nurse researchers was approximately $72,900 in July 2022. As for the expected job outlook, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that the medical scientist field will grow 17% between 2020 and 2030, faster than the average rate projected for all professions.

Nurse Professor

Another nonclinical role that nurse practitioners might consider is the role of nurse educator, or nurse professor. This role allows nurses to apply their clinical skill and experience to instruct and develop the next generation of nurses. Nurse professors may teach and demonstrate different methods of patient care, either in a classroom setting or in the academic unit of a hospital or health care facility.

Though this position is primarily focused on teaching and instruction, nurse educators may also spend some of their time conducting research. Additionally, many nurse educators choose to put in a few hours of clinical practice each week, just to keep their skills honed; however, this is not always required.

Most often, nurse professors are employed at a college or university. In some cases, they may be employed by a hospital or health care organization to facilitate ongoing training and professional development for in-house nursing professionals.

According to the BLS, the median annual salary for nurse educators was $77,440 in 2021. The field also provides opportunity for job growth and advancement; employment of postsecondary nursing instructors will grow 22% between 2020 and 2030, according to the BLS.

Health Policy Nurse

Nurse practitioners may also consider working as a health policy nurse. This role is devoted to researching, developing, and enforcing new health care policies. Some examples of policy topics nurses may work on are the accessibility of health care or patient privacy and confidentiality protections.

Elected officials ultimately play the most significant role in shaping public health policies, along with the executives who run major health care organizations. However, to ensure policies represent sound approaches to patient care, many officials lean on the expertise of people who have hands-on nursing experience. That’s where the health policy nurse comes in. Essentially, the nurse practitioners in this role make certain that officials and policymakers are acting in the best interests of their constituents, including patients, nurses, and medical providers alike.

The median annual salary for health policy nurses was approximately $64,400 as of July 2022, according to Payscale. Meanwhile, Johnson & Johnson reports that the current nursing shortage in the United States is creating an increasingly greater demand for professionals who can speak authoritatively on constructive policy development.

Medical Writer

Individuals trained as nurse practitioners who are drawn to the craft of writing may want to consider working as a medical writer.

Medical writers create health- and health care-focused documents and papers that range from summaries of important medical research to educational materials and even promotional literature for new treatments or medications. Some nurse practitioners in this profession write and publish under their own name, while others ghostwrite for well-known doctors and researchers.

Medical writers may have opportunities to write for scientific journals or general audience magazines, or even to author books. What’s important for success in this role is the ability to take in a lot of complicated scientific information, then organize and articulate it in a way that’s clear and accessible.

The median annual salary for medical writers was around $76,600 in July 2022, according to Payscale. The specific salary range can vary depending on the nurse practitioner’s level of education and experience, and on their specific employer.

Nurse Legal Consultant

Another nonclinical option for nurse practitioners is to work as a nurse legal consultant. The American Association of Legal Nurse Consultants defines the work of nurse legal consultants as “the analysis and evaluation of facts and testimony and the rendering of informed opinions related to the delivery of nursing and other health care services and outcomes, and the nature and cause of injuries.” In other words, professionals in this field possess both a high level of nursing knowledge as well as some exposure to foundational legal principles; their job is to provide informed evaluations of issues that have both health care and legal implications.

Nurse legal consultants practice in a variety of settings, including:

  • Law firms
  • Government agencies
  • Insurance companies
  • Health care organizations
  • Patient safety organizations

Nurse practitioners may also choose to be self-employed, offering their services as consultants on a case-by-case basis.

Nurse legal consultants may protect both patients and providers in legal matters related to medical malpractice and personal injury. Additionally, they can assist in the development of legal protocols that make workplaces and medical facilities safer for everyone.

The median annual salary for this role was around $82,000 as of July 2022, according to Payscale.

Telehealth Nurse

For nurse practitioners who desire to interact with patients, and to assist in diagnostics and treatment, without working in a traditional clinical setting, online nurse practitioner jobs may be a good option, with the job of telehealth nurse topping the list.

Telehealth nurses speak with patients, assess their symptoms, develop treatment plans, and even prescribe medications, all via remote wellness checks. Additionally, nurse practitioners who wish to have administrative or supervisory roles can often work remotely, allowing them to stay connected to clinical care without having to venture to a hospital or medical practice each day. Online nurse practitioner jobs and telehealth roles can be ideal for anyone in this category.

According to data from Payscale, the median annual salary for telehealth nurses was approximately $63,000 in July 2022./


Make a Positive Impact as a Nonclinical Nurse Practitioner

Nurse practitioners play an essential role in the American health care industry. For those who are trained and licensed in this profession, abundant opportunities are available to make a positive impact on the lives of patients. This is true of nurse practitioners who have clinical roles, but it’s also true of those who work in nonclinical positions.

Regardless of their specific career ambitions, any aspiring nurse professional will benefit from a high-quality online degree program. Specifically, Hawai‘i Pacific University’s online Bachelor of Science in Nursing to Doctor of Nursing Practice (BSN to DNP) program provides an accelerated path for nurses who already have their BSN, but wish to bolster their credentials to become advanced practice nurse leaders.

Students in this program can gain the skills needed to make a meaningful impact in either clinical or nonclinical roles, and to pass all relevant nurse practitioner exams. To take the next step toward a rewarding nurse practitioner career, learn more about the BSN to DNP program today.

Recommended Reading:

How Long Are BSN to DNP Programs?

Clinical Decision-Making in Nursing Practice

DNP vs. PhD in Nursing: What Are the Differences?


American Association of Colleges of Nursing, Nursing Research

American Association of Legal Nurse Consultants, What Is an LNC?

American Association of Nurse Practitioners, The Path to Becoming a Nurse Practitioner (NP)

American Association of Nurse Practitioners, What's a Nurse Practitioner (NP)?

Chron, “An Example of Short Term Goals to Becoming a Nurse Educator”

Johnson & Johnson Nursing, Health Policy Nurse (HPN) at a Glance

Payscale, Average Clinical Research Nurse Salary

Payscale, Average Health Policy Analyst Salary

Payscale, Average Legal Nurse Consultant Hourly Pay

Payscale, Average Medical Writer Salary

Payscale, Average Telehealth Nurse Hourly Pay

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Medical Scientists

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Nursing Instructors and Teachers, Postsecondary

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Postsecondary Teachers

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Registered Nurses

WebMD, What Is a Nurse Practitioner?

ZipRecruiter, What Is a Medical Writer and How to Become One