9 places you can work as an NP or PA

Yes, hospitals are on the list, but we bet you didn’t think phone triage centers would be.

9 places you can work as an NP or PA

Years ago, nurse practitioners and physician assistants worked almost exclusively in family practice environments. Today, the role of these crucial health care providers has expanded tremendously, and NPs and PAs have a lot of options when it comes to where they work.

From working for a single practitioner to being employed by a large hospital or in an academic setting, NPs and PAs are needed everywhere. So how do you decide which practice setting is best for you and your career? These are just 9 of the professional settings at which an NP or PA could apply for work.


This is the obvious one. From obstetrics to the operating room, there are a lot of options for work in hospitals. There are also usually more health care providers so if you come across something you’re unfamiliar with, you won’t be the only NP or PA on the premises.

Emergency departments

Similar to hospital work, emergency work can be thrilling, exciting and difficult all at once. But of course, you’ll be seeing immediate impact In this work setting. Here, you’ll be responsible for helping the most ill and injured in their greatest time of need. And for those adrenaline junkies out there, the emergency room setting is extremely fast-paced. Get ready for anything in the ER.

Urgent care centers

Urgent care centers exist somewhere in between family care practices and hospitals. At a job in an urgent care center, you’ll get to treat a wide variety of conditions while sending the most extreme cases on to the emergency room. It’s a bit of a slower pace than the ER, but you’ll still have to assess the urgency (hence the name) of a variety of situations really quickly.

Surgery centers

Surgery centers are great places to dive further into one type of medicine or procedure if you want to specialize. From cosmetic to orthoscopic, there are many types of surgeries to gain proficiency in and plenty of places to work.

Community health clinics

Similar to urgent care centers, community health clinics also provide services a family practice services in addition to emergency care. These clinics are often part of a larger health care organization and have more resources.

Retail clinics

Located inside larger retail stores, these small clinics serve a growing population of people interested in basic medical care, receiving flu shots and other less-invasive procedures. They usually have specific hours and have the benefit of a variety of patients of all ages and backgrounds. These types of clinics are popping up a variety of pharmacies and are really useful for people who have a minor medical need. Working here is no peace of cake though either, you’ll still have to asses the nature of the emergency and be able to determine when to send someone to their primary care physician or the ER.

Nurse-managed medical centers

Nurse-managed medical centers are a somewhat recent addition to the health care world. These medical centers offer a variety of treatments and services, usually at lower costs since overhead is lower because there are no physicians are on staff. So if you worked here, you’d be responsible for essentially running your own practice. Great fodder for that resume.

Phone triage centers

As technology has evolved, phone and video are becoming more popular ways for people to receive medical advice. It’s called telehealth, and it’s changing the way caregivers give care. The ability to call and speak with an NP or PA to determine simple diagnoses or receive other advice may be the future of medicine. 

Rural health care facilities

Rural health care facilities are often the only medical facilities within hundreds of miles and serve smaller populations that need care. Found in small towns and on Native American reservations, these facilities offer opportunities to be involved in a wide variety of procedures and treatments and provide care to people who really need it.

In addition to work settings, there are also many different specialties NPs and PAs can work in. Previous work or clinicals may give you some insight into which specialties you’d prefer to work in.

If you’re still not sure where you want to work, look into locum tenens assignments. You can try out different settings and specialties for a few days to a few months and get to really see what the job is like.


Tyler Black is the vice president of allied staffing at CompHealth. He places PAs, NPs, therapists, pharmacists and other allied health professionals in permanent, locum tenens and travelling positions around the country. For more information visit CompHealth online.