So, you’ve just graduated from your nurse practitioner program? Congrats! I wrapped up NP school and officially entered the job market in 2015. I quickly discovered there are some highs and lows for new grad NPs when it comes to the job search. If you’re a new nurse practitioner graduate this year, here are three tips based on my personal experiences.
1. Start Looking for Jobs Now
Don’t wait to graduate to start looking for jobs. The nurse practitioner profession is ever-growing. What this means to you is that you can expect competition in the job market. Many areas of the U.S. are saturated with healthcare providers. This is a common theme I encountered during my job search 4.5 years ago and from discussions with students I’ve precepted it appears to be getting worse. What I did was partner with a job recruiter.
I was upfront about what I sought in a job. I made it clear what my expectations were in terms of ideal market, benefits, cost of living (do research on your own as well), my autonomy in the future job role, on-boarding support for the new NP, and of course, salary. Partnering with a job recruiter helped immensely. Yes, it is their job to find providers, often times, in markets that are less-than-ideal. That’s why it’s imperative you are honest with what you are seeking. Last thing you want to do is waste your time and their time. Also, if you don’t have a license in hand tell the recruiter up front. Many employers are still willing to interview you if you seem to be a good fit.
2. Work on Your Interview Skills
A trick that worked for me was to treat the interviews like a first date. Traditionally, we think of interviews as a one-sided affair with the employer bombarding you with “what would you do” questions. Instead, I often asked questions of my own. I inquired about my role(s), my expectations, and asked them “what would the company do” questions except with scenarios that applied to me. Also, do your research on the potential employer. The interview should not be one-sided. Once again, just like dating — if it’s one-sided, then it’s going to be a poor relationship.
Ultimately, I joined a practice that I was a student at. They knew I didn’t have any actual clinical experience except as a student. However, I presented them with fresh new ideas on how to grow the clinic and presented myself as a huge asset. At the time I was working as a personal trainer/nutritionist. I developed a weight loss program that ties in behavioral coaching and electronic delivery of workout plans for patients. Furthermore, I discussed ways to cut overhead costs such as delegating PA processes to a part-time nurse to free up each provider’s nurse. By simply seeing one extra patient per day from either of the two providers, the additional revenue would cover this nurse’s salary for the day. You may have talents that lie beyond straightforward patient care that will help you land a job.
3. Apply for Your License Early
Don’t wait around to get licensed. Prior to graduation start a portfolio of all of your necessary materials (i.e. official sealed transcript, set aside application money, pre-write letters of rec that professors or preceptors can simply sign off on, etc). In the state of Tennessee it took about 6 weeks to get my license after applying for it. Do anticipate the worst, but hope for the best. Expect possible hang ups. After you get your APRN license plan to apply for your DEA license. Your employer may/may not pay for it. It goes for a measly $731 (!). Being prepared for the worst as far as licensing delays and the post-graduation finances always prepares you to be your best.
About Justin: Justin Groce is an AANP board certified nurse practitioner, an NSCA-certified strength and conditioning specialist (CSCS), ACLL board-certified clinical lipidology specialist, and A4M board-certified in functional/integrative medicine. He owns and operates his own functional medicine telemedicine practice, The Restore Clinic, and his online personal training coaching website. When not intentionally getting lost on hiking pilgrimages he enjoys cooking up new recipes to share with his patients.