How Do You Become a Health Policy Nurse?

If you become a health policy nurse, you will have an exciting opportunity to influence the direction of health care delivery in the United States. By combining your experience in one of the country’s most trusted professions with a strong background in policy issues, you can make a difference in your community. Health policy nurses come from many backgrounds. Whether you’re just starting your nursing education or have been caring for patients for years, there is a pathway into health policy nursing waiting for you.

Do You Need a BSN to Work in Health Policy?

In most cases, the non-profit and government agencies that hire health policy nurses will want applicants with at least a bachelor’s degree. A Bachelor’s in Nursing (BSN) degree is a strong option, but you can also be a competitive candidate if you have a B.S. or B.A. in a different subject and complete an accelerated nursing program. Urban areas, particularly in high-demand cities like New York City and Washington, D.C., tend to have the biggest candidate pools and the highest requirements. Given the huge demand for nurses across the country, you don’t have to be the ideal candidate to land a job in health policy, according to the Wall Street Journal.

If you have an Associate’s in Nursing (ASN) and a few years of experience, you can still find a policy position. That’s especially true if you’re willing to work in a rural area. County-wide organizations that offer visiting nurse programs, nutritional education sessions or childhood disease prevention programs need policy nurses to help shape program delivery. You can start working for a smaller agency with just your RN license and then finish an RN-to-BSN program to be eligible for promotions.

Can You Work in Health Policy Without a Graduate Degree?

To reach your full potential in nurse leadership, you will need a doctoral degree in nursing. Earning your PhD or DNP degree will give you the respect of other policy leaders and a solid background in health policy, legislative affairs and medical history. You have many paths for earning your degree; some nurses don’t enter the workforce until they’ve finished studying. Others prefer to work and earn their degrees part-time. You can also study for a Master’s of Science in Nursing (MSN), Master’s of Healthcare Administration (MHA) or Master’s of Public Health (MPH) before entering a doctoral program.

What Type of Nursing Experience is Best for a Health Policy Career?

Although new nursing graduates tend to work in general roles like med-surg units at a hospital, you’ll be a better applicant for health policy positions with more specified experience. If you’re going to graduate with a BSN, consider looking for school nurse or public health nurse positions. These will give you personal experience with some of the most important areas for health policy expertise. Of course, if you have a particular passion, look for work in that field; you could be a great geriatric policy expert if you’ve worked in long-term care or at a home visit agency.

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You came to nursing because you wanted to help others heal. Once you become a health policy nurse, you’ll be able to touch more patients than ever before.