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Where Can FNPs Work, Besides Primary Care?

Trailblazers / Where Can FNPs Work, Besides Primary Care?
Where can FNPs work? A picture of an FNP with a tongue press
June 7, 2022

You’ve gotten your FNP degree, passed your board exam, and now you are ready to start looking for jobs, but where do you start? Or maybe you’re a registered nurse who is thinking of becoming a nurse practitioner. Are you aware of the numerous specialties and the diverse opportunities available for you to pursue? It's exciting to say, there are many! Unfortunately, it is common to believe that Family Nurse Practitioners (FNPs) can only work in primary care. But, that can't be the only option you have, right? NO, of course not! In short, there are many more options for you to research and consider.

FNPs can work anywhere from hospitals, specialty clinics, urgent care, and in many more places. In this article, we’ll provide examples of this and go over what you can do with your FNP degree. Above all, remember, you don’t have to be stay in primary care if you don’t want to.

So, let’s explore some of your options!

What is an FNP?

To clarify, an FNP is just one of the many types of nurse practitioners (NPs). All nurse practitioners (FNP included) are advanced practice registered nurses (APRN) who serve as leaders in healthcare settings. They work more closely with medical doctors (MD) to diagnose and treat their patients, which differs from a nurse who implements the treatment plan. An FNP focuses on caring for patients of all ages and their families. They work in family medicine, which is a term that can include caring for almost every type of patient, disease, and more.

FNPs work with many patients over the course of their lives, including newborns, the elderly, adults with chronic disease, pregnant people, and everyone in between. Because of this training, FNPs are uniquely positioned to work anywhere after graduating, not just in primary care.

Where can you work as an FNP?

FNPs work in Primary care

Primary care is the most common place where FNPs work. It involves serving as your patients’ primary care provider and working with patients of all ages. While this is the most common setting for FNPs to work, it isn’t the ONLY place.

FNPs beyond primary care work

There are many settings in which an FNPs can work, here are a few of the most common:

FNP Specialties

FNPs are qualified to work in specialty clinics because of the broad training they received through their FNP programs, unlike pediatric nurse practitioners or women’s health nurse practitioners.

Specialties that employ nurse practitioners include:

  • Cardiology
  • Dermatology
  • Oncology
  • Orthopedics
  • Neonatologist
  • Urology
  • Endocrinology
  • Nephrology
  • Neurology
  • Pain management
  • Palliative care
  • Surgery
  • Holistic health
  • Hospice
  • Forensics
  • Long-term care
  • Home health

Some specialties may require specific certifications before you start working, but it is common for a company or organization to offer training to complement your FNP training. This will ramp you up quickly and get you working as soon as possible.

FNPs working in hospitals, emergency rooms, and urgent care

Half of the NPs certified in 2021 reported having at least some hospital privileges, and 50,000 NPs work full-time in the hospital. 12,000 NPs work full-time in the emergency room (ER) and 9,000 in urgent care. Other hospital areas where NPs work includes individual units like the medical-surgical unit, the telemetry unit, private practice, or even specialized units, like labor and delivery or pediatrics.

Whether on a medical-surgical floor or in the ER, or in urgent care, inpatient practice is a growing and fulfilling specialty that FNPs can work in after graduating.

Pediatrics

While there is a pediatric nurse practitioner specialty degree, FNPs can also work in private practice and general pediatrics. Even FNPs who don’t work in pediatrics full-time reported seeing pediatric patients regularly. Up to 75% of FNPs see pediatric patients every day they work in family practice. They can also work in pediatric specialties like pediatric gastroenterology or cardiology. These areas focus on chronic or acute conditions common in pediatrics like congenital heart defects, all of which FNPs can manage.

Women’s Health

There is also a women’s health nurse practitioner specialty degree which will allow work in women’s health, obstetrics, and gynecology. However, it is noteworthy to mention that FNPs without the specialty degree can still work in those areas. While they don’t usually deliver babies, they can provide general prenatal care and women’s healthcare such as women's wellness exams, sexual health counseling, and more. FNPs working in primary care will often see many of these women and these concerns as well.

There is also a women’s health nurse practitioner specialty degree which will allow work in women’s health, obstetrics, and gynecology. However, it is noteworthy to mention that FNPs without the specialty degree can still work in those areas. While they don’t usually deliver babies, they can provide general prenatal care and women’s healthcare such as women's wellness exams, sexual health counseling, and more. FNPs working in primary care will often see many of these women and these concerns as well.

Research

NPs and FNPs can also work in research or on research projects, especially for NP-specific research. Organizations such as the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP) offer research fellowships and opportunities that can help break into these roles. Also, colleges and universities often have research projects. These projects can be funded by grants that employ healthcare workers, such as FNPs, to do research, work with the patients involved in the study, and more.

Academia

All staff in FNPs programs are FNPs too, so FNP faculty positions are always an option, too. FNPs can also serve as staff in bachelor’s or master’s programs (https://www.usuniversity.edu/degrees/master-of-science-in-nursing-family-nurse-practitioner) for nurses or other nurse practitioners. These can be full-time or part-time, otherwise known as adjunct positions where you teach one or two days a week. It can involve an instruction-centered curriculum or supervising students in the clinical setting.

All staff in FNPs programs are FNPs too, so FNP faculty positions are always an option, too. FNPs can also serve as staff in bachelor’s or master’s programs (https://www.usuniversity.edu/degrees/master-of-science-in-nursing-family-nurse-practitioner) for nurses or other nurse practitioners. These can be full-time or part-time, otherwise known as adjunct positions where you teach one or two days a week. It can involve an instruction-centered curriculum or supervising students in the clinical setting.

Are you ready to become an FNP?

Now that you have read about the different settings in which an FNPs can work, are you ready to start your journey? There are endless opportunities for FNPs, whether you are a nurse thinking about FNP school or a new FNP trying to get your first job. Check out United States University’s FNP program today!

Alison Shely, DNP, FNP-C is a nurse practitioner, nurse coach, and nurse content writer who specializes in articles, guest blogger, and healthcare worker wellness. She has been in nursing since 2014, working in intensive care, women’s health, and primary care as a registered nurse and family nurse practitioner. Her specialty topics include mental health, health and wellness, yoga philosophy and practice, and community health. She also serves as a health coach and mentor to other nurses and healthcare workers concerning healthy lifestyles and mental health.