Subscribe to Notes on Nursing, our monthly news digest.

Health Policy Nurse (HPN) at a Glance

As a Health Policy Nurse (HPN), your role is to aid in the research, creation and enforcement of health policies. Whether it’s new legislation surrounding healthcare accessibility, protective laws for patients and doctors, or communicating with government officials about societal health needs, HPNs are heavily relied upon advocates within the world of healthcare.
What is a Health Policy Nurse?
A Health Policy Nurse plays an active role in forming and communicating public health policies with the goal of improving the overall well-being of society. With a strong background of hands-on nursing expertise, HPNs are able to aid and act as policy makers within our government and healthcare systems. As healthcare laws and matters of accessibility are under constant scrutiny by elected officials, it’s the responsibility of HPNs to make sure everyone has the resources and information they need to best serve their constituents.

What’s the Demand for HPNs?

Overall, the United States is facing a significant nursing shortage, and as healthcare reform continues to take center stage in our country, there’s an even greater need for people who can speak clearly to the issues facing both healthcare workers and societal health needs.

Health Policy Nurses have the opportunity to influence academic grants needed to fund groundbreaking research, laws that change how we care for individual and global health, healthcare economics and more. So HPNs are quite in demand now, and they’re likely to be needed as more changes are made in our healthcare system.

How Do You Become a Health Policy Nurse?

While most Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) programs cover a base education on public health and overarching leadership skills, it’s highly recommended that people who want a career as a Health Policy Nurse earn their Master’s of Science in Nursing (MSN) in Healthcare Policy as well.

This added layer of academia provides an in-depth education of policy, research and healthcare-specific ethics, giving prospective hires a boost when applying for jobs. Many aspiring HPNs also choose to minor in a relevant field, such as law, for a broader understanding of the institutions they may serve in.

Post-grad, HPNs have the option of earning their certification as a Public Health Nurse or in a more specialized area via the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC), or even pursuing a Doctorate.

Required education
Health Policy Nurses are clear communicators, meticulous researchers, natural leaders and educators. As the experts who provide accurate information on highly influential policies, HPNs have to establish a reliable reputation.

How Much Does a Health Policy Nurse Make?
$70k - $90k
While the Bureau of Labor and Statistics doesn’t give an exact figure for Health Policy Nurse compensation, it’s projected that nurse employment will increase 12% by 2028. With this in mind as demand for nurses continue to grow, salaries will increase as well. Also because HPNs work across such a variety of government, research, and law offices, their compensation can differ greatly based on their value and the financial resources within the institution.
As a prominent voice and advocate in the nursing profession, it’s your job as an HPN to lead, guide and support other nurses so they can provide the best care. You’ll want to maintain a strong network of nurses with insights on issues facing the medical field and the needs of the patients who enter their care. The best HPNs and managers are good listeners and genuine advocates. Be attentive and let this network of nurses help you communicate societal and medical needs to policy makers.
To properly advocate for and communicate about healthcare needs, you have to be well informed. The more you’re able to back up your colleagues with well-researched data, the more likely you’ll be able to push policies forward and discover new ways to help doctors provide the best possible care.
Because you’ll be working with busy individuals like lawyers, politicians and consultants, efficient time management is essential. The more structured and organized you are as an HPN, the better you’ll be able to assist your colleagues.
HPNs tend to have quite a diverse workload, ranging from research, lobbying, policy writing and connecting with various healthcare officials. Because of this, your career as an HPN can have many different branches, giving you the opportunity to see which area of healthcare policy suits you best.
Close up of a man in a suit and tie writing on papers with a pen
You’ll be able to make a difference by becoming a leader in advocacy, research, analysis, policy development, implementation, and evaluation."

What Does a Health Policy Nurse Do?
Brief overview
Brief overview

As an HPN you’ll have a hand in analyzing, informing, and creating healthcare policies that affect the well-being of our society. You’ll act as a voice for both patients and healthcare providers, bringing their needs to light before lawmakers and policy makers throughout our government and healthcare system. As an advocate for societal and individual well-being, you’re responsible for being well informed, accurate and reliable to the various changemakers you work with every day.


Research is at the core of your job as a Healthcare Policy Nurse. You’ll constantly be analyzing new healthcare laws, reviewing and proposing new regulations and public policies, and educating fellow leaders and policy makers on relevant and pressing healthcare findings.


As an expert in nursing and healthcare, you’ll work to devise plans to promote policy change and create new health policies. These strategies rely on thoroughly researched insight that inform you and your colleagues on the best way to move forward. This can mean helping strategize around policy appeals, advising leaders and lawmakers on how best to communicate issues and healthcare plans to the public, and consulting for various healthcare corporations or institutions.

Where Can a Health Policy Nurse Work?
  • Advocacy organizations
    Nurses as a group are inherently advocacy-prone, but often lack support in return. As a Health Policy Nurse, you’ll have a chance to contribute via advocacy organizations as a voice for both medical officials and patients in need of government attention.
  • Government offices
    Health Policy Nurses in government offices act as leading voices in raising awareness surrounding healthcare issues and needs, and often establish themselves as policymaking leaders in their own right. As the importance of nurses has become more apparent to politicians and other government officials, more HPNs are joining their ranks to make a change.
  • Healthcare organizations & Research Firms
    At healthcare organizations and research firms, Health Policy Nurses aid in the communication of needs and findings to leading healthcare changemakers. This can lead to HPNs taking on roles as lobbyists, actively working to persuade and influence elected officials to support their organization’s cause.
  • Legislative offices
    Within legislative offices, Health Policy Nurses work side by side with legislators to analyze, adjust and create various healthcare policies. As in other offices, HPNs are relied on as top tier nursing experts, providing legislators with the best information possible for each policy.
Health Policy Nurse Path

Get a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN).

Earning your BSN at an accredited university is a requirement for any prospective Health Policy Nurse. This lays the groundwork for you to understand the scope of nursing as a whole, and gives you a base of knowledge about health policies and leadership skills. If you want to prepare yourself even further, it’s recommended that you minor in an area that’s applicable to healthcare policy as well. Typically, earning your BSN, regardless of pursuing a minor, takes a total of four years.

Pass the NCLEX-RN and work as a Registered Nurse.

If you’re looking to pursue your Master of Science in Nursing, it’s required that you earn your license as a registered nurse and work for a minimum of one year to gain critical hands-on experience within the field. This work and experience can be invaluable when communicating the needs of nurses and patients to those with little knowledge of the field’s demands.

Get a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN).

While an MSN is not required for Health Policy Nurses, it’s highly advantageous when applying to jobs and distinguishing yourself as a reliable source within the profession. Depending on the intensity of your chosen program, earning your MSN in Health Policy typically takes two to three years.

If you want to take on a larger leadership role, you can get your Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing (PhD).

A PhD in Nursing is not a requirement, but like an MSN, it can earn you more professional and leadership opportunities in the field, and enlighten you to a broader range of practices that could inform various policy action plans. It’s not a small commitment, in terms of both time and money, earning your PhD in nursing can take eight years or more.

You’re ready to work as a HPN.

Congratulations on your hard work and certification as a Health Policy Nurse. As a leading voice behind the policies that have the potential to impact society at a massive scale, your expertise holds a huge amount of responsibility. Remember to stay informed, stay connected, and communicate clearly each and every day.

Join an Organization
Become a member of a HPN organization to find career opportunities, learn from your colleagues, and support the profession.

American Academy of Nursing

Agency for Healthcare and Quality

American Nurses Association
Down to their core, nurses carry a fundamental respect for human dignity and an intuition for patient needs. That's why they're natural innovators. If you'd like to learn more about nurse-led innovation, here's where you can get started.
Group of smiling nurses in scrubs holding folders
Group of smiling nurses in scrubs holding folders
Subscribe to Notes on Nursing, our monthly news digest.
Explore issues of our monthly newsletter, which features the many ways nurses' innovation and leadership drive transformative change in healthcare.