Alternative Careers for Nurse Practitioners Experiencing Burnout

Nurse Practitioner practicing abroad

Explore unique career ideas for burned out nurse practitioners looking for flexibility, personal fulfillment, and better work-life balance in nontraditional work opportunities.

Nurse practitioners have valuable skill sets and experience that can be leveraged in industries and careers outside of the traditional clinical setting. Clinicians experiencing burnout can take a step back from the hospital or clinic, to consider opportunities that incorporate other interests or passions like traveling, teaching, or writing.

Whether you are a retiring NP, an NP looking for a second career, an NP wanting to work from anywhere remotely, an NP interested in telehealth, or simply a nurse practitioner experiencing burnout and looking for a career alternative, we’ve created a list of unique jobs for you to explore.

Why are nurse practitioners leaving traditional clinical roles?

After a strenuous year for healthcare professionals, many nurse practitioners are burned out and in need of a change of scenery. With high education costs, time-consuming bureaucratic tasks, and long working hours associated with the job, nurse practitioners are reconsidering the trajectory of their chosen profession.

Nurse practitioner burnout rates

The Journal for Nurse Practitioners published a recent study analyzing burnout among NPs and how environmental factors play a role.

The study revealed nurse practitioners working in favorable practice environments with adequate support, resources, autonomy, and optimal relations with colleagues, may be less susceptible to burnout. On the other hand, poor practice environments have been shown to contribute to clinician burnout.

Here are some key statistics from the report:

  • 25.3% of NPs who participated in the survey were burned out.
  • Higher scores on the following favorable environment subscales were associated with an up to 58% lower risk of nurse practitioner burnout; professional visibility, NP-physician relations, NP-administration relations, independent practice, and support.

From this research, it’s clear nurse practitioners experiencing burnout may need to reevaluate the environment where they work and seek alternative career opportunities with more favorable conditions.

Non-traditional nurse practitioner careers

The traditional career path for nurse practitioners typically involves providing patient care in a clinical setting. However, clinicians cultivate diverse skill sets with knowledge in many areas of care, making them highly sought after candidates for nontraditional roles. Instead of feeling stuck in the status quo, nurse practitioners can find positions that exercise their transferable skills and fulfill both their personal and professional interests.

15 types of alternative jobs for nurse practitioners

1. Online nurse practitioner jobs

Online nurse practitioner jobs allow clinicians to create a flexible schedule that works for their lifestyle. There are innovative telehealth companies all over the country looking for NPs to provide remote synchronous and asynchronous care for a wide variety of treatment areas for diverse patient populations. With the flexibility telemedicine offers, it can be leveraged as a part-time position to supplement income or can provide a full-time salary.

2. Start a mobile medical clinic

Minority populations within low income communities have disproportionate instances of health conditions and less access to proper medical care. NPs looking to serve these areas can make a measurable impact by running a mobile health clinic. These programs work with vulnerable communities to provide critical health services, primary care, screenings, treatment for conditions common among homeless populations, and more. Mobile clinic owners can further expand these efforts by partnering with local community organizations such as food pantries and rehabilitation facilities to give people access to resources they need beyond the mobile clinic. This entrepreneurial endeavor requires securing a medical vehicle, creating a business plan, hiring a team of culturally knowledgeable staff members and clinicians, and logistical planning. NPs looking to start a mobile health clinic can raise funding to support these efforts through commercial financing, grants, organizational contributions, and service contracts.

3. Nurse researcher

The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts a faster than average growth rate for nurse practitioners in the coming years. The role of a nurse researcher involves developing and implementing scientific studies to explore the different aspects of healthcare and illness and identify ways to improve patient outcomes based on data analysis and reported findings. Medical research is typically funded by grants, so nurse researchers can be tasked with writing grant proposals with specific reporting requirements. Nurse practitioners who want to enter the field of research but need more experience in a clinical research setting can begin as a research assistant, clinical researcher monitor, or clinical data coordinator.

4. Yacht medical staff/crew nurse

Chartered luxury yacht staff members get to travel the world while catering to clients. Crew nurses often serve as deckhands or stews in addition to providing on-demand medical care to everyone on the vessel. Although living quarters for staff are often tight, the earning potential and opportunity to visit new and exotic locations are what draw nurse practitioners to this profession.

5. Corporate health nurse practitioner

Many companies offer employee wellness programs to give employees access to a range of basic health services. These corporate clinics often hire nurse practitioners to assess, treat, and help prevent acute illnesses and conditions of employees so they don’t have to miss time at work for off-site appointments.

6. Camp nurse

Nurse practitioners experiencing burnout or who are seeking a change in environment can practice in the great outdoors working as a camp nurse. Churches, agencies and private organizations host residential and day camps for all different types of populations that need readily available access to medical care such as people and children with cancer, mental disabilities, or other specific conditions. Camp nurses conduct health assessments, treat illness and injury for campers and staff, and administer medication, and more.

7. Clinical writer/editor

There are plenty of writing and editing opportunities for nurse practitioners to leverage their extensive knowledge and experience to create and review clinical-based content.

Scholarly journals and publishers produce content such as textbooks, peer-reviewed articles, editorial pieces, and educational materials that need to be checked for technical accuracy by experts like advanced practice nurses. There are also opportunities through credentialing services for test-writing and test review services.

Nurse practitioners can also find opportunities as CEU and CME writers, serving as subject matter experts to create timely and relevant continuing education courses for practicing healthcare professionals.

Many, if not all of these roles, can be done remotely.

8. Nurse practitioner blogger or freelance writer

Clinicians with a knack for storytelling and passion for writing may find fulfillment in maintaining a personal blog. Nurse practitioner bloggers have the freedom to write about their experiences and unique perspectives on any number of healthcare topics, with total autonomy while generating income through advertising and affiliate marketing. As freelance writers, nurse practitioners can be paid to produce and publish work on other blogs and platforms in need of expert medical opinions.

9. Expert legal witness

Nurse practitioners diagnose and treat a wide range of common conditions that patients can experience throughout their lifetime. This level of experience and exposure to the medical system make nurse practitioners effective expert witnesses in medical-legal cases. In this type of role, qualified NPs help legal teams by evaluating the medical records, witness testimonials, and material facts of medical-legal cases to provide expert commentary in court. Nurse practitioner expert legal witnesses can be responsible for providing unbiased and objective opinions to help the court make decisions for either side of a medical-legal claim.

10. Health policy nurse

Healthcare reform in America is currently seeing a lot of action and health policy nurses have the power to enact positive change in the healthcare system without working in a clinical setting. These opportunities exist within healthcare organizations, government offices, and research firms, where nurses are needed to conduct research, create and enforce healthcare policies and advocate to make care more safe, accessible, and affordable for all.

11. Nursing professor or education consultant

Schools and educational programs frequently hire doctorate-level nurse practitioners as instructors and professors to teach in-person and online courses. This is a great way for providers to gain teaching experience by instructing foundational classes such as anatomy & physiology, chemistry, and epidemiology among others. Some nurse practitioners maintain a full-time clinical practice while teaching part-time to supplement their income.

Nurse practitioners who want to work in education, but do not want to teach, can find opportunities as an education consultant working for public or private universities. In these roles, consultants can contribute to the development of curriculum or lead department-wide projects and assessments. Nursing schools also hire nurse practitioner consultants to serve as career coaches for students and nurses.

12. Tech start-up consultant or product manager

Healthtech is a fast growing industry within the healthcare space, with innovative companies creating tech enabled products and services that can be used outside of a hospital setting. Oftentimes, these companies are not operated by people with medical training or experience, so they call on nurse practitioner consultants to help navigate and offer critical insight on the current healthcare system, policy and regulations as well as assessment, diagnosis, and treatment for common health conditions.

Nurse Practitioners can also be hired as product managers to conduct research and partake in strategic planning and implementation of health related products. Organizations in and beyond the healthtech space such as EMR vendors and patient engagement companies, seek clinicians with an entrepreneurial spirit to develop effective healthcare products and services.

13. Flight nurse

If you’re not afraid of flying and enjoy treating advanced critical care patients, becoming a flight nurse may be a good option for you. Responsible for ensuring patients safely reach their destination, flight nurses or transport nurses work with paramedics and physicians to provide direct care during patient transport. This role required nurse practitioners to go through a curriculum by the Department of Transportation Air Medical where they learn how to administer treatment for acute trauma and life support while in an airplane or helicopter.

14. Correctional care nurse

Are you interested in helping underserved populations and using your experience to serve your community? Consider a career providing health promotion and services to inmates in a correctional facility. A meaningful and rewarding position, nurse practitioner opportunities in correctional healthcare often involve assessing and treating common health concerns as well as conditions relating to mental illness, suicide prevention, and substance abuse. With overcrowding being a persistent issue in today’s prison system, many correctional facilities are in demand of medical providers such as nurse practitioners.

15. Foreign service health practitioner

Are you a nurse practitioner interested in working overseas? The U.S. Department of State hires NPs to work as foreign service healthcare providers to serve in countries all over the world. Practicing abroad, nurse practitioners have an autonomous role and play a key part in interdisciplinary medical teams that provide primary, emergency, and preventative medical care for U.S. diplomats in foreign countries. To qualify for the foreign service, NPs need to pass a high-level security clearance and obtain medical diplomacy. Although providers may be sent to areas with harsh conditions and limited access to modern medical technologies, this can be a challenging and exciting opportunity for clinicians.

Discover a career in telemedicine with Wheel

At Wheel, clinicians are our focus.

We make it possible for clinicians to access multiple virtual care opportunities all over the country with innovative telehealth companies. After a simple credentialing and training effort, Wheel matches NPs with opportunities based on their interest and experience so they can begin working remotely with increased flexibility and better work-life balance. Find out how a job in telemedicine with Wheel could be the start of your creative clinical career.

Apply to work in virtual care with Wheel.

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