The COVID-19 pandemic forced health care providers to innovate, adapt, and rethink their approaches to clinical care. Unable to conveniently diagnose and treat patients face to face, many providers switched to a telehealth model wherever possible, assessing and addressing patient needs without direct physical contact. Telehealth proved to be a viable form of patient care throughout the pandemic, and it remains viable even as the coronavirus subsides.
Pandemic-era telehealth is just one example of how digital communication technology empowers doctors and nurses to treat patients remotely. Indeed, a number of work-from-home nurse practitioner jobs marry convenience and flexibility with positive patient interaction. For nurses who have completed more advanced clinical training, these positions may hold much appeal.
How to Prepare for Remote Nurse Practitioner Work
Nursing professionals who wish to work remotely at an advanced level will need to start by earning a nurse practitioner license and becoming familiar with telehealth technology.
Becoming a Nurse Practitioner
Because they deliver advanced patient care and provide many of the same health care services as physicians, nurse practitioners must meet rigorous education requirements. Registered nurses (RNs) who go on to earn a graduate degree (such as a Master of Science in Nursing, or MSN) may sit for nurse practitioner licensure. The specific requirements for licensure may vary according to the state of practice.
To ensure a positive patient experience, having foundational technological skills is essential. Most fundamentally, nurse practitioners who work remotely need to have modern computers with reliable, high-capacity internet connections. Mastery of videoconferencing applications is also important. Finally, nurse practitioners who treat patients remotely need to have familiarity with specialized tools that can be used to collect patient vital signs and other important data, without the need for face-to-face interaction. For example, telehealth providers often use programs that allow them to monitor patient conditions via wearable tech, such as the Fitbit.
Remote Nurse Practitioner Career Paths
Nurse practitioners who are comfortable with technology and prefer the flexibility or safety of remote health care delivery may choose from any number of work-from-home nurse practitioner jobs. Four of the most common include telehealth nurse, case manager, psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner, and legal nurse consultant.
The role of the telehealth nurse is to talk with patients in secure, confidential video calls. The telehealth nurse gathers information about the patient’s symptoms and medical history, perhaps also using remote monitoring tools to take vital signs or collect data. Based on this information, the telehealth nurse may make a diagnosis, call in a pharmaceutical intervention, schedule a follow-up with a specialist, or simply triage the case to a more appropriate provider when remote intervention isn’t possible.
Telehealth nurses require keen listening and analytical skills, allowing them to assess patient conditions and make the most expedient decision about diagnosis and care. According to Payscale data from December 2021, the median annual salary for a telehealth nurse is approximately $62,900.
Nurse practitioners may also seek work in case management, in which they collaborate with other caregivers to develop treatment plans and monitor patient progress. Usually, case managers oversee treatment for patients whose conditions are chronic in nature.
Success as a case manager requires great communication and collaboration skills, plus an ability to remain organized and to balance the needs of many unique patients at a time. According to Payscale data from July 2022, the median annual salary for a case manager is approximately $75,700.
Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner
Nurse practitioners who are certified in psychiatric care can counsel their patients via videoconferencing, helping to address issues related to mental health disorders, addictions, or behavioral problems. Online therapy is an increasingly popular option among patients who value mental health care but prefer the flexibility to speak with professionals from their own homes or offices.
This role requires not only experience in mental health care but also empathy, strong communication skills, and active listening. According to Payscale data from July 2022, the median annual salary for a psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner is approximately $113,600.
Legal Nurse Consultant
Legal nurse consultants may work with insurance companies or with attorneys, helping them understand complex medical cases by reviewing patient records and medical research.
Success as a legal nurse consultant requires strong research skills, analytical thinking, and training in basic legal principles. According to Payscale data from June 2022, the median annual salary for a legal nurse consultant is around $82,000.
The Challenges of Remote Nursing
While remote nursing offers ample opportunities, it also has some barriers that nurse practitioners will need to overcome. Not only is the regulatory environment concerning telehealth always in flux, but, as the field grows, standards for reimbursement may shift and evolve.
Providers and patients alike may also encounter technological challenges. Nurse practitioners must master state-of-the-art video conferencing technology in order to provide satisfactory patient care. And even if nurse practitioners have tech savvy, the same cannot be said of every patient, which can cause inefficiency and frustration.
Nurse practitioners should be mindful of these barriers but not overwhelmed by them. They can overcome all of them with the right balance of skills, including foundational tech expertise, strong communication skills, and an ability to show leadership in working with both patients and other providers. The best way to hone these skills is through advanced training, such as an online MSN.
Play a Key Role in the Future of Health Care
Telehealth is increasingly important in health care delivery, and nurse practitioners can play a vital role in providing safe, comfortable, convenient patient care remotely. In particular, nurse practitioners can make a difference by joining their telehealth expertise with a clinical specialization such as pediatric care, mental health, or adult-gerontology primary care. For example, many patients with mental health or addiction issues are hesitant to seek care because of the stigmas associated with these problems. Telehealth promises greater patient comfort and increased access to care for such patients.
To gain the right set of skills and credentials, consider a strong online degree opportunity, like Hawai‘i Pacific University’s online Master of Science in Nursing program. Enroll today and start cultivating the skills needed to pursue work-from-home nurse practitioner jobs.