Nursing is one of the highest paid and most respected professions in the country. Indeed, various lists of top careers in terms of salary and job satisfaction will feature nursing jobs. What few people realize, however, is just how diverse the field of nursing is, and how many opportunities there are for people who want to get involved in it. For those who truly want to reach the highest career levels with the greatest rewards, the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree is the most suitable option. With this degree, you will be highly compensated for taking on positions with high levels of responsibilities. To get an idea of how in demand this job is, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has predicted that there will be an increase of 31% from 2014 to 2024 for high level nursing jobs.
Below are some of the key positions you could take:
#1 Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA)
CRNAs work alongside surgeons and other clinicians to administer anesthetics to patients during a medical or surgical procedure. The CRNA role is said to be one of the highest paying positions a nurse can achieve, and demand is rising, in line with demographic changes such as an aging population and an increase in the average age. Of interest is the fact that just 52% of all DNP programs across the country award a CRNA license.
Some of their duties include:
- Setting up the intravenous (IV) lines
- Providing anesthetic to patients
- Caring for patients before, during, and after any medical procedure (obstetrical, diagnostic, or therapeutic)
- Monitoring the patient during the procedure
- Providing pain management
- Preparing patients for procedures, including educating them on what to expect and finding out whether they have allergies
- Administering local anesthetic
- Adjusting anesthesia during procedures
According to the BLS, nurse anesthetists earn an average annual salary of $164,030.
#2 Nurse Researcher
DNP degrees are generally required for those who want to take on practical positions in nursing. For research positions, the Ph.D. is more appropriate. However, it is not unheard of for someone with a DNP to become a nurse researcher either. At present, only 1.3% of the DNP workforce works as a nurse researcher, but with tremendous demand in this field expected, this may change.
Nurse researchers usually:
- Collect data in relation to various health issues
- Develop activities, programs, and initiatives to improve health
- Work with patients during clinical trials and provide nursing care to participants
- Provide all forms of medicinal care, including administrative tasks such as creating and presenting reports
- Understand clinical backgrounds and the need for and sensitivities of clinical trials
- Plan, implement, and coordinate clinical schedules and procedures
- Collect vitals and samples and record appropriate data
- Communicate with study participants and sponsors
- Recruit, educate, manage, and schedule trial subjects
Payscale.com reports median annual earnings of $69,236 for the clinical research nurse.
#3 Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner
Psychiatric nurse practitioners work alongside psychiatrists to diagnose patients and provide them with appropriate treatment. They help to make a diagnosis and also work directly with patients to educate them and their families and provide them with important advice. Many of them work in mental health facilities, hospitals, and private practices. Reports have shown that around 2% of the DNP workforce is employed as such. Their goal is to help people recover from psychiatric disorders and to improve overall quality of life. Many work with patients diagnosed with anxiety, ADHD, mood disorders, and substance abuse problems. Some also work with more serious, life-limiting conditions such as schizophrenia.
Common duties of psychiatric nurse practitioners include:
- Managing different caseloads and the associated documentation with these cases
- Consulting with staff and family members about clinical concerns, treatment options, and medication
- Prescribing medication, although this may or may not be possible depending on the state and the nurse practitioner’s license
- Performing therapy with individuals and groups, evaluating this therapy and assessing its effectiveness
- Dealing with patients’ other medical needs and making appropriate referrals
Payscale.com reports median annual earnings of $98,899 for psychiatric nurse practitioners.
#4 Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM)
Certified nurse midwives are responsible for looking after pregnant women, from initial pregnancy to birth. Sometimes, they also work with women who are trying to conceive and who may have problems with fertility. They will be present during the delivery of the baby, but mainly focus on the health of the expectant mother and her baby during the pregnancy as well. They run tests and provide advice to expectant parents on prenatal and antenatal care, as well as other issues. They will also talk with mothers about their birthing plans and what to expect during their pregnancy. They often work for large health organizations, although some states now have separate midwife clinics. CNMs work hand in hand with ob-gyn physicians, ensuring that patients have the best possible care, leading to the best outcomes for mothers and their babies. Reports have shown that around 5.8% of DNP degree holders work as CNMs, and that there will be a 26% growth in demand.
Typical duties for a CNM include:
- Looking after every element of a woman’s pregnancy
- Performing gynecological examinations
- Being involved in family planning services
- Providing new mothers with prenatal care
- Delivery babies, including dealing with emergency medical situations that can happen during delivery, such as hemorrhaging
- Assisting physicians during cesarean births and during laceration and cut repairs
- Being the primary carer for mothers and their newborn babies
- Educating prospective and new parents on healthy living and wellness, focusing on disease prevention and nutrition
- Providing advice, information, and guidance on reproductive and sexual health issues
The BLS reports that the average annual earnings for certified nurse midwives is $102,390.
#5 Pediatric Endocrinology Nurse
Pediatric endocrinology nurses are high specialized nurses who focus on just one area of nursing, which is the care of children up to the age of 18 who suffer from endocrine system illnesses, including diabetes. Obviously, most of them work in pediatric clinics and hospitals, although many are able to open a private practice if their state license allows this. Their general duties include:
- Diagnosing children with endocrine diseases
- Working with children and their families in terms of helping them manage an endocrine disease, such as diabetes
- Educating parents and children on the importance of healthy lifestyle choices and how these can affect their illness
- Supporting families throughout the duration of the patient’s life
The DNP is the highest degree that a nurse can obtain, and this translates into roles in which he or she will hold extensive responsibilities for complex cases and medical situations. They are very well-compensated for these roles, often instantly seeing a salary increase. DNP degree holders serve as role models and mentors to other nurses, showing them expected standards in terms of patient care and inspiring them to do similar things. Many different roles are available for DNP degree holders, in many different fields of the healthcare industry, including in private practice. It truly is a role in which nurses can develop their unique personality and vision.
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- The Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP). (2017, Jun.). Retrieved from http://www.aacn.nche.edu/media-relations/fact-sheets/dnp
- Online Post-Master’s Doctor of Nursing Practice. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://landing.onlineprograms.sacredheart.edu/overview/nursing/dnp-682KJ-1175128.html??utm_source=xyz&utm_campaign=nursejournal&utm_content=greybox&utm_term=/dnp-programs/best-paying-dnp-nursing-jobs-salary/
- Nurse Anesthetists, Nurse Midwives, and Nurse Practitioners. (2015, Dec. 17). Retrieved from https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/nurse-anesthetists-nurse-midwives-and-nurse-practitioners.htm