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Where Can FNPs Work? Exploring 6 Career Paths and How to Choose the Right Fit

The demand for nurse practitioners in the U.S. is sky-high. Between 2022 and 2032, the Bureau of Labor Statistics expects employment to grow for nurse practitioners, nurse anesthetists, and nurse midwives by 38%, which is nearly 13 times faster than the average for all jobs.

The demand stems from several factors:

  • Healthcare organizations are putting more emphasis on preventive care.
  • The growing older adult population has significant healthcare needs.
  • The U.S. has an increasing shortage of primary care providers.

Fortunately, family nurse practitioners (FNPs) help address these gaps. FNPs are advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) who provide a wide range of healthcare services. They see patients across the lifespan, and treat illnesses, conditions, and injuries that fall under the primary care scope of practice including disease prevention and health and wellness promotion.

If you’re interested in becoming an FNP, you may wonder, “Where can FNPs work?” A broad scope of practice allows FNPs to make a difference in many healthcare settings. Keep reading to explore diverse work environments where FNPs enjoy professional autonomy and provide high-quality patient care. 

What Does an FNP Do?

FNPs provide primary care to patients of all ages, from infants to older adults. Some of their many responsibilities include:

  • Performing physical exams
  • Ordering and interpreting diagnostic tests
  • Prescribing medications
  • Managing and developing treatment plans
  • Educating and counseling patients and families
  • Monitoring and ensuring the quality of healthcare practice
  • Collaborating with other healthcare professionals

The specific job duties of FNPs depend on their work environment. For example, FNPs have different roles and responsibilities in specialized and primary care settings. However, FNPs are highly flexible, and their comprehensive education equips them to apply patient-centered care so they can meet diverse patient needs effectively. Nearly 70% of all NPs are FNPs.

Where Can FNPs Work in Healthcare Settings?

Traditional healthcare settings, such as private practices, are the most common workplaces among FNPs. They also work in community health centers. FNPs deliver comprehensive care to diverse patient populations in traditional healthcare settings, making a far-reaching impact.

Primary Care

Where can nurse practitioners work in primary care? Most FNPs practice in outpatient clinics, private group practices, and private practices. Here, FNPs can carry out the full scope of their practice, depending on the state practice environment for nurse practitioners. They are involved in health promotion, disease prevention, and chronic disease management.

Primary care settings serve individuals and families across the lifespan. So, it’s common for FNPs to see patients throughout their lives, developing long-term patient-provider relationships, as well as sometimes seeing multiple members of the same family. 

FNPs typically have regular working hours and a typical patient load in primary care settings. As a result, they have the flexibility to balance their professional and personal commitments.

Community Health Centers

FNPs expand healthcare access by working in community health centers, which provide comprehensive care to all patients, regardless of their ability to pay.

FNPs working for community health centers provide direct patient care including preventative care, health education, and counseling. They also engage in community outreach. FNPs collaborate with community organizations and other healthcare providers to promote and provide healthcare services tailored to the population’s needs, such as health screenings and mobile clinics.

Where Can FNPs Work Outside of Healthcare Settings?

FNPs make meaningful contributions beyond traditional healthcare settings. They help significantly expand healthcare access via telehealth and public health departments. FNPs also positively influence the development of children and adolescents by working in school based clinics and student health centers.


Telehealth use grew drastically during the coronavirus pandemic and has since slowed. However, analysts expect it to continue growing for chronic and primary care. As a result, providing telehealth services has become a newer career opportunity for FNPs.

FNPs can practice full-time via telehealth or integrate telehealth into a role in a traditional healthcare setting. Either way, FNPs who utilize telehealth help make healthcare more accessible, especially for people living in remote and underserved areas.

FNPs can only treat patients from the state where they are licensed to practice via telehealth. Another potential challenge of working in telehealth is the lack of in-person interaction, which means FNPs can’t perform comprehensive physical examinations.

Still, telehealth can be rewarding for FNPs seeking a flexible career path. Another benefit is that telehealth limits their exposure to certain illnesses.

School Health Clinics

FNPs who work in schools get to influence healthy growth and development in children. School FNPs provide primary care to students and staff in daycares, preschools, and K-12 schools. They manage chronic conditions like asthma and diabetes, conduct health screenings, and provide referrals for further evaluation and specialized care.

Other FNP job responsibilities in schools include:

  • Educating students and families on various health topics, such as nutrition and hygiene
  • Promoting mental health and well-being in collaboration with school counselors, psychologists, and teachers
  • Creating and implementing emergency action plans, including first aid and CPR training

School FNPs must learn to communicate effectively with children of various ages. They should be comfortable discussing sensitive topics, such as substance abuse and sexual health, and navigating student relationships with parents and caregivers.

Public Health Departments

FNPs working in public health departments focus on the health and well-being of entire populations. Their role improves social justice, health equity, and population health outcomes, making a difference in the lives of individuals, families, and their communities.

A public health FNP focuses on population health through disease prevention, health promotion, and health education. Their roles can involve any of the 10 Essential Public Health Services, including:

  • Assessing and monitoring public health
  • Creating, championing, and implementing policies, plans, and laws
  • Evaluation, research, and quality improvement

Public health FNPs may provide direct patient care, participate in policymaking and advocacy, and partner with community organizations in health promotion and assessment.

FNP with a patient

How to Choose Where to Work as an FNP?

Some FNPs feel called to work in a specific setting, while others consider several options. Deciding where to work depends on your professional goals and personal preferences. The potential salary, benefits, schedule, and workload are essential, as are the scope of practice and educational requirements.

Schedule and Workload

Determine your preferred schedule and workload. Chronic disease management in acute care settings typically requires longer hours and shifts on evenings, weekends, and holidays. In primary care settings, FNPs primarily work during standard weekday business hours. Work settings outside of healthcare, such as schools and public health departments, also tend to offer standard working hours. The pace of work also differs dependent upon the care settings. The workload can be more unpredictable in acute settings.

Salary and Benefits

Know that work setting influences compensation and benefits. The median total income of full-time FNPs is $115,000 per year. This figure includes base salary, productivity bonuses, and incentive payments. However, salary can vary significantly based on numerous factors, including work setting and state.

For example, the difference between the average nurse practitioner salary in residential facilities (such as substance abuse or mental health facilities) versus physician’s offices is almost $40,000 annually.

Some of the highest-paying workplaces for FNPs include:

  • Residential Disability, Mental Health & Substance Abuse Facilities: $158,140
  • Home Health Care Services: $146,850
  • Outpatient Care Centers: $139,860
  • Hospitals: $135,610
  • Offices of Other Health Practitioners: $121,250

Scope of Practice

When choosing where to work, FNPs may also want to consider the state. State regulations determine the extent to which FNPs can practice to the full extent of their training. As a result, there are variations in FNP job responsibilities.

Nurse practitioners in 39 states and Washington, D.C. have a full or slightly reduced scope of practice. Nursing organizations, such as the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners, are working to expand nurse practitioner practice authority nationwide, and some states are taking steps towards a broader scope of practice.

The demand for primary care also varies by state. In states with a high demand, job opportunities for FNPs are particularly plentiful. For example, Delaware, Missouri, and Alaska meet less than 25% of the need for primary care professionals.

Regardless of the state where they practice, FNPs help make high-quality, patient-centered care more accessible to Americans.

Educational Requirements

As you choose where to practice as an FNP, evaluate your career aspirations and educational background. Some employers prefer or require a terminal nursing degree for certain positions, especially leadership roles.

As APRNs, FNPs must hold a minimum of a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN). However, some nurses choose to earn a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP). The DNP is a terminal nursing degree that the American Association of Colleges in Nursing (AACN) recommends as the entry-level preparation for advanced practice nursing roles.

Compared with MSN programs, DNP programs emphasize nursing leadership, administration, and analysis of evidence-based research for application into practice. FNPs with a DNP have the highest level of preparation in nursing practice, which can open doors to leadership opportunities.

Advance your Career through Baylor's Online DNP-FNP Program

FNPs can grow fulfilling careers in numerous work settings, from traditional healthcare environments like primary care clinics and hospitals to non-traditional settings such as telehealth, schools, and public health departments. Each offers distinct opportunities and challenges, so FNPs can choose the one that aligns with their goals, interests, and values.

If you are interested in becoming an FNP, you may want to consider Baylor University's online DNP-FNP program. It prepares nurses who have a bachelor's or master's degree in nursing to provide exemplary care across the lifespan.

Baylor's Louise Herrington School of Nursing is ranked among the top graduate schools for DNP programs and is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE). It also offers integrated clinical placement support.

“I knew Baylor was the right fit for me because they holistically train providers in leadership and policy change and prepare them for the entire role,” said Rachel Berry (Carmichael), a Baylor DNP-FNP graduate.

Baylor DNP-FNP graduates like Rachel have a 100% certification pass rate. They are prepared to bridge gaps in primary care where needed most, including providing care to underserved populations, implementing new treatment methods, and advocating for positive change in nursing.

If you're interested in advancing your leadership in nursing, explore how a DNP-FNP from Baylor can help you meet your goals.

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