Where Do Nurse Practitioners Work? (Top 25 Settings)
Written By: Donna Reese MSN, RN, CSN
If you are considering going to school to become a nurse practitioner or are a new NP grad, you may be wondering where do nurse practitioners work? Nurse practitioners have a varied and diverse background and training and are therefore qualified to work in a variety of different areas in the medical field. This article will provide you with the top 25 settings where most nurse practitioners work to give you some ideas to get you started in your extraordinary career as a nurse practitioner. Read on and see if any of these settings are calling your name.
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WHERE DO MOST NURSE PRACTITIONERS WORK?
(Following are the top 25 professional settings where most nurse practitioners work.)
The most apparent setting where nurse practitioners work is in a hospital. Sometimes referred to as a hospitalist, the NP can be an essential member of the hospitalist team comprised of in-house doctors, NPs, and physician assistants. A nurse practitioner may round on patients and admit from the emergency department to the hospital, in addition to treating, collaborating with the team and referring to specialists while hospitalized.
2. Emergency Rooms
An emergency nurse practitioner is an advanced practice nurse trained in acute care and works primarily in the ER. ER nursing is a fast-paced setting for any nurse. Nurse practitioners who work in an emergency department should appreciate and be prepared to utilize their skills efficiently and quickly for a range of injuries and illness for all age groups. A strong background in critical care is essential to triage, treat and perform all types of emergency procedures such as intubation and central line placement.
3. Offices of Private Physicians
The Bureau of Labor and Statistics
indicates that 47% of NP’s work in private physician offices. Therefore, it is not surprising to be seen by an NP in all aspects of outpatient primary and specialty care. Nurse practitioners commonly work in offices of pediatrics, family medicine, oncology, obstetrics, internal medicine, and cardiology. Dermatology and cosmetology practices are a current popular setting where nurse practitioners work.
4. Nursing Homes
Nurse practitioners work autonomously in the nursing home setting. Many times, they are the lone advanced practice medical professional caring for the residents. In this setting, NP’s provide acute and chronic illness care along with injury treatment and physical exams, and medication prescribing and monitoring.
Another exciting nursing home opportunity for NP’s is being a part of a mobile vascular team that service extended care facilities and nursing homes. NPs travel locally to provide vascular testing services for numerous senior facilities. In this innovative position, the NP provides vascular interventions and procedures for those living with venous and vascular conditions.
5. Public Health Departments
A public health nurse practitioner works in the community and is mainly employed by the state government or agencies that deliver care to underserved populations. This specialty NP may work in a clinic but often is on the road visiting patients in their homes or in community facilities close to their neighborhood. A public health NP may see patients across life’s spectrum, with the majority being infants and children, pregnant women, and the elderly. NP duties may include vaccinations, well check-ups, and patient education and referral.
School nurse practitioners work in school health clinics, mainly in large school districts or those with an underserved population. This type of NP may work with certified school nurses (RN, CSN) to provide services to children as outlined by the Department of Education, such as acute care for illness and injury and mandated health screenings. In addition, the NP may perform physical examinations, prescribe medication and referrals for lab work and to other specialists.
As part of my training as a nurse practitioner, I worked at a school-based health clinic in a neighboring city. At the high school, NPs tested and counseled potentially pregnant students, tested for STD’s and performed sports and driving physicals, in addition to seeing more complex injuries and illness. I found the school environment to be a very gratifying setting where nurse practitioners work.
7. Correctional Facilities
Nurse practitioners who work in correctional facilities may work in a county jail, private prison, federal penitentiary, or ICE detention center. NP’s perform examinations, make rounds for ill or injured inmates, prescribe medication, and assist with the detoxification process. Correctional facility is a setting where nurse practitioners work that may be considered dangerous but according to the American Association of Nurse practitioners
, danger is not an issue for most NPs in this specialty area. In fact, NP turnover is very low in this setting, and the nurses find the job rewarding with much autonomy.
8. Substance Abuse Treatment Centers
Nurse practitioners who specialize in addiction and detoxification can be employed at a substance abuse center or hospital. NPs are part of a team of medical professionals comprised of councilors, physicians, and nurse practitioners. Physical exams, assessment, treatment, and implementation of the plan of care are some of the duties shared by NPs in this role.
9. Weight Loss Centers
Many NPs working at a weight loss center are the primary provider to oversee the clinic, prescribe medication and hormones, administer laser treatment, liposuction, and other associated procedures. Some clinics operate with a physician in attendance. Other centers can be nurse practitioner-run or even owned due to NP full practice authority
, making this opportunity one of the more independent environments where nurse practitioners work.
10. Home Health
Not to be confused with the traditional role of a home health nurse, home health nurse practitioners are a unique part of the home health team. As the advanced practice nurse on the team, this specialty NP is the primary health provider for home-bound patients. An NP mainly works with elderly clients, but those with pediatric experience may attend to children and teens with special needs also. You will have the autonomy to utilize your advanced nursing skills to assess, diagnose, prescribe and implement treatment for a variety of patients.
11. Insurance Companies
Nurse practitioners who are employed by insurance corporations many times need to travel to patients’ homes. Working primarily with Medicare patients, an NP is utilized to perform examinations and give recommendations for medication, treatment, and home plans of care. The NP may also be asked to perform testing such as bloodwork and for peripheral artery disease. Knowledge of adult and geriatric nursing is a plus, and Medicare and insurance requirements are necessary.
12. Rehab Center
The role of nurse practitioners in rehabilitation
is medical evaluation and treatment as part of the interdisciplinary team. The NP can identify barriers to treatment and prescribe assistive devices to help in rehabilitation. The overall goal is for steady progress and to decrease setbacks and hospital readmission. A rehabilitation center may be a part of a hospital, nursing home, or free-standing rehab facility.
There are numerous job opportunities for nurse practitioners in the military. The US Army employs nurses in acute and primary care facilities around the world. NP’s can also be a part of the Army Reserves.
The Navy Nurse Corps recruits nurse practitioners to serve in medical facilities worldwide. A Navy nurse practitioner may also be a part of the Marine Corp once commissioned in the Navy. A Navy NP provides medical care for sailors along with their families and people in need across the globe.
The Air Force employs nurse practitioners for their posts across the world. A Navy NP provides family-based care for those enlisted and their families on base. On the US Air Force website, NP careers are listed in pediatrics, women’s and family health, and adult psychiatric mental health.
14. Private Corporations
A quick search on medical employment sites brought to light that private corporations are one of the settings where nurse practitioners work. Of little surprise, companies like CVS and GoodRX are looking for nurse practitioners to fill positions in their corporations for roles of telehealth and clinical trials. Other unique settings
in the private corporate sector could be working in a private onsite corporate health clinic.
Nurse practitioners earn an MSN or DNP degree to become an NP. With this degree, an NP can work at a university in the health center to provide assessment, medication, and treatment for university students. On the flip side, with your advanced degree, NPs are also qualified to teach nursing students enrolled in a BSN program. In addition, if you have your doctorate degree in nursing, you may qualify to be on the faculty to teach the MSN students.
As an NP working for Hospice, you will be a part of the team to provide comfort to dying patients and advocate for their needs. An interesting aspect about nurse practitioners
is that they are trained to provide holistic care. This makes an NP the perfect match for this type of specialty area.
A hospice nurse practitioner will work autonomously but collaborate with the Hospice team to plan and implement treatment for patients with terminal illnesses. You may be asked to work in a private home, acute care setting, nursing home, or hospice house.
17. Underserved Areas/Indian Reservations
The American Association of Medical Colleges indicates that the physician shortage
will continue to grow significantly over the next 12 years. By placing a nurse practitioner in an underserved area such as an Indian reservation, the NP can serve as a physician extender to help fill the shortage of physicians. Indian Health Services
is a federal program that assists in placing NPs in areas of greatest need for American Indians and Alaskan Natives.
Working in underserved populations as an NP can occur in atypical locations and buildings such as senior centers, fire halls, homeless shelters, churches, and mobile clinics
. Nurse practitioners working with this population are stationed in a locale that is most convenient for the patient due to lack of transportation and access to larger medical facilities.
18. Community Clinics
A community clinic can be found in most medium-sized towns and cities. Nurse practitioners and physicians work together to treat patients of all ages in this setting. Some clinics have urgent care departments with primary and specialty departments, while others just function as a primary care facility.
As a nurse practitioner, I worked in an inner-city community clinic with an urgent care, obstetric, pediatric, family health clinic, and dental center. Two such clinics were spread out over my small city to give easy access for just about every type of care needed to the population living close by.
19. US Department of Veterans Affairs
The US Department of Veterans Affairs
is the most extensive health system in America. This entity provides care for our US veterans and their families, with nurse practitioners having a role as primary care providers. NPs are in demand for this setting, so much that the VA even offers nurse practitioner residency programs to train their own supply of NPs. Due to this program, the VA is one environment where nurse practitioners work that may pay off financially if you are considering going into this exciting field of nursing as an NP.
20. Kids Camps
Once summer hits, nurse practitioners become even more in demand. Children’s camps in all shapes and sizes need nurses and nurse practitioners to keep the children safe while away from home. The Association of Camp Nursing
employs nurse practitioners in more advanced nursing roles such as medical director, nursing supervisor, or at specific medically complex camps such as HIV, diabetes, and ventilator dependent.
As a camp nurse, I had worked in various camps such as Girl Scouts, church, and horseback riding camps. A nursing challenge for me was the ventilator and diabetic camps, where I also spent a few weeks working in the summer. In these more demanding outposts, an NP can be very busy titrating medications, changing insulin pumps and pods, and tracheostomies.
Although camp nursing is mainly summer work, these programs can be found year-round in many locales. As a camp NP, this job may be one of the more fun environments where nurse practitioners work.
22. Anywhere for a Travel NP
A travel nurse practitioner works in different locations and settings. A travel NP can choose job opportunities based on location or by position offered, whatever is preferred. The job will be in the area of expertise of the NP. Assignments are usually 3-6 months, and the pay is excellent. Since these positions are in areas of staffing shortages, many times, a travel nurse practitioner can stay beyond the limit of the contract if so desired.
23. Urgent Care
Urgent care centers are once again in vogue and are popping up all over the country. An urgent care center can be found in malls, pharmacies, stores, and community clinics, in addition to stand-alone structures. Most urgent care centers employ nurse practitioners. These practices are an opportune setting where nurse practitioners work due to the respect given for being an integral part of a small team of medical professionals. NP’s see patients for acute care, perform exams, order tests and prescribe treatment and function similar to physicians.
Telehealth uses virtual technology such as a phone or computer to provide health care services remotely. It is mainly used for patients to have virtual visits with their physician. This new high-tech communication has made it easier to access difficult to reach patients or those who cannot see their doctor in person for any reason. Due to the COVID pandemic, telehealth has taken the forefront in how patients are treated by their medical provider as remote visits became the norm. With the growing popularity of this type of virtual visit, telehealth nurse practitioners are in more demand than ever and could be a great setting where nurse practitioners work.
25. Online Care Team
Medical advice and treatment are starting to emerge via the internet in a futuristic move with independent virtual care groups. Moving past the still new telehealth medicine is online virtual care by companies that employ their own doctors and nurse practitioners for online care only. If you have a medical question or choose to be seen by an online practitioner, you will not be tapping into your own team of doctors. This type of care is a virtual medical provider that you will never see in person, and you do not need to be a part of their practice. The online care nurse practitioner performs all of the same functions as your primary care physician, such as physical (virtual) exams, and prescribes medication, lab tests, and treatment. Visiting a doctor may soon be a thing of the past.
So, where do nurse practitioners work? As you now know from reading the top 25 settings where most nurse practitioners work, NP’s work everywhere. There is an opportunity for you if you enjoy working with children or pregnant women, the elderly, or college-age groups. If you are looking for flexibility, travel, or relish adventure, an exciting NP job awaits you. For those who prefer more traditional NP settings, there is an array of choices for employment. With your varied skill set in nursing and an advanced degree, you should find a career setting that is tailored to your needs and ultimately fulfilling as a nurse.
Donna Reese MSN, RN, CSN
Donna Reese is a freelance nurse health content writer with 37 years nursing experience. She has worked as a Family Nurse Practitioner in her local community clinic and as an RN in home health, rehabilitation, hospital, and school nursing.