5 Non-Traditional Options for Advanced Practice Nurses

Nurse practitioners and physician assistants are not limited in their job choices to the same extent they were just a decade ago. Advanced practice professionals no longer have to be chained to a physician in a private practice, group practice, or hospital. They are free to pursue more than a dozen new opportunities made available through state legislative efforts and a greater acceptance within the medical arena itself.

Are you an NP or PA looking to get out of a rut? Or perhaps you are just finishing up your education and looking forward to embarking on your new career? At any rate, there are lots of options available to you. Below are five that should give you a good idea of how wide the scope of opportunity actually is. Each job is considered nontraditional.

1. Career Locum Tenens

At the top of the list is career locum tenens work. The locum is a temporary professional filling in for an employed doctor or nurse away on extended leave. Locum contracts typically range from 3 to 6 months. Working as a locum nurse practitioner affords the opportunity to combine your career with travel.

Locum NPs are self-employed individuals for tax purposes. However, an abundance of staffing agencies means that NPs do not have to seek out their own contracts. The agency acts as a broker of sorts bringing employer and practitioner together. Agencies typically offer better pay and benefits in an attempt to compete for the top talent in the field.

2. Retail Clinics

Retail clinics run by nurse practitioners and physician assistants are on the rise thanks to gradually increasing numbers of states loosening the restrictions on advanced practice providers. Many states now recognize NPs as more than capable of providing primary care in a clinical setting.

It is now possible to find retail health clinics located in pharmacies, big-box department stores, and even grocery stores. Such clinics offer a full list of primary care services and preventative screenings. Nurse practitioners diagnose common primary care illnesses, provide inoculations, and even write prescriptions.

3. The Horse Racing Industry

Believe it or not, an entire market has evolved around the horse racing industry. In many locales with prominent horse racing venues, tracks and breeding operations employ workers who do not have access to affordable healthcare. As such, there is a big demand for advanced practice clinicians to staff local clinics providing the services these workers need. The Kentucky Racing Health Services Center in Louisville is a great example.

4. Sports Medicine

Nurse practitioners and physician assistants can specialize in sports medicine by taking a few courses targeting sports injuries and treatments. Then they can go on to work for pro and semi-pro teams, college teams, and even local high schools. Hiring an NP is significantly cheaper than bringing a doctor on board, so advanced practice clinicians are becoming more attractive to both pro and education-based programs alike.

5. Nurse Education

Every advanced practice professional doesn’t need to go into a direct patient care job. Someone has to teach those coming in behind them, meaning there are plenty of educational opportunities available. Becoming an educator is the ideal option for an experienced nurse practitioner ready to embrace a less hectic lifestyle after decades in direct patient care.

It used to be that nurse practitioners and physician assistants were limited in their job choices. That is no longer the case. Things in medicine are changing to the extent that advanced practice professionals have a much larger variety of choices today. That’s a good thing. It makes the profession attractive to more people.