Talk about a catch-22! Let’s use Sally, the average Nurse Practitioner (although there’s nothing average about NPs), as an example. She has been a nurse for many years and has been working on her MSN for quite a while. The happy day arives when she has earned her MSN. She then sits for her national certification and passes. She is so thrilled now because she is officially a certified Family Nurse Practitioner!
Sally’s job search now begins. She applies for every Family Nurse Practitioner position she sees on the internet job boards posted by both employers and Nurse Practitioner Jobs recruiters. Even though the ad may say they require a year of experience, she still applies thinking that her valuable RN experience will suffice. She receives no responses to her applications. Months go by, and she is still working her RN job. Sally’s excitement has waned. How can she get her first position when everyone wants an FNP with at least 1 year of experience? Thus, the catch-22…
This situation is also very frustrating for Nurse Practitioner Jobs recruiters. Daily, they get bombarded by new grad Nurse Practitioner resumes, and daily, they have to tell the new graduate that they have nothing for them. There may be only 1 in 50 Nurse Practitioner job postings that state they will look at new grads. The most frustrating part of all of this is that most of these new graduates bring a wealth of RN experience to the table along with their new MSN. And to get their MSN, they go through several clinicals, which also provide hands-on experience in their specializations as well as outside of their specializations. These new NPs are really NOT new graduates per se.
Why are most physicians unwilling to train new graduates? Some Nurse Practitioner Jobs recruiters have said that some doctors will allow a new grad to shadow them for a month before being considered for a job, but this must be done at the new grad’s expense and without pay. Not fair!
To get a better perspective on this, Nurse Practitioners were asked to give their advice on how new grads can land their first job.
They can be very persistent like Julie: “I subscribed to every NP job website I could find, and I applied for multiple positions (15 or more), even ones I didn’t know for certain if I would like right before graduation and while waiting to take the certification exam. I was called and went on 9-10 interviews which helped immensely with interviewing skills. I made sure my resume was as good as it could possibly be by having several knowledgable people look it over, then printed it on very high quality resume paper. I brought two copies of my resume to every interview and they were placed inside special resume folders which matched the paper (available for purchase at any office supply store or WalMart). I purchased two very professional business suits, one for the initial interview and one for any possible follow-up interviews. I sent a thank you note to every person who interviewed me, which I think helped me get a second interview 75% of the time. By the time I received the results of my certification exam I had three job offers. The job I accepted was not one I initially thought I would be interested in, so be open to lots of possibilities and really explore all of your options.”
Julie also gave some advice for Nurse Practitioner recruiters to pass on to the physicians: “The positive thing I hear about new grads is they are very eager to please and the collaborating doc can train them however they want without having to worry about existing prescribing habits or other traits they don’t like. Some docs prefer a new grad just for that reason. Really playing up any prior nursing experience on their resume is also helpful.”
Here is what Ben had to say: “I got a job while I was still in school at a place that I thought would be willing to add a practitioner when I was done. I think that students need to be thinking about that as soon as they decide a specialty.”
Matthew shows how, if you try to stand out in your clinicals, it can reap rewards: “I did one of my clinical rotations with the doctor that would later hire me. He basically decided that he wanted me to work with him because he got to see me in action.”
Karen made a great impression and now hires new grad NPs herself: “My first position was in a hospital where I had done a clinical rotation- not the same clinical rotation but my perceptor’s recommendation to the Department chair was crucial in getting the interview. I later became Chief of our NP service and hired new graduates for our team. The certification type- Acute Care or Adult for example, as well as the clinical rotations and the reputation of the NP program were key items as I evaluated resumes.”
Frank was willing to go anywhere for his first job. Here’s his advice: “As a FNP I did loan repayment through Indian Health Service for 2 years then started back on the West coast doing rural clinics or working underserved populations. Don’t decide on a specialization out of the gate, unless you’re doing Board specialization such as peds or women’s health, so as to obtain a well rounded real vs. academic intial work experience.”
And here is Sue’s experience: “I did many, many online searches and placed many online resumes without any reply or return emails. I found a job in the most unexpected place in internal medicine through an MD with whom I was currently working. He suggested my name to the group and one of the MD’s came to speak to me and invited me to the practice. I had plans to work in a local ED fast track as I had been working as a nurse there while I was in school. I have been accepted readily into this practice and thank God daily for this opportunity. I have to agree with Ben that students need to be planning while in school and actively pursue them prior to graduation.”
After reading these very helpful Nurse Practitioner comments, we can see there are some common threads throughout:
1. Start your job search early while you are still in school. Network.
2. Do your best in school, and try to stand out from the crowd. Make an impression! You never know who may be watching you closely thinking of a future hire.
3. Be persistent. Go the extra mile like Sue did.
4. Be flexible. You may need to relocate for a year just for the experience.
5. DON’T burn bridges. A physician, an office manager, another Nurse Practitioner student or anyone with whom you come in contact while at school may be your key to landing your first position. Attitudes,(unless they are positive) don’t belong in any NP school!
For Nurse Practitioner Jobs recruiters: Sell the physician or hiring authority on the Nurse Practitioner’s past RN experience. Tell them that a new grad Nurse Practitioner can be like a piece of clay. They can mold him/her into what they desire in their practice/hospital, etc. They have no existing habits to change.
And my 2 cents? RememberKeep in mind that your first job doesn’t have to define what you will be doing for the rest of your career. These new grad positions are difficult to find for most NPs in this current environment. Take what you are offered, and know that if you don’t particularly like the venue or anything else about your first position, you only need to stay a year to get that necessary experience that will pave the way to a great career.
In this present economy or really in any economy, it’s a shame to keep any Nurse Practitioner out of work for any amount of time. Nurse Practitioners are so crucial to our healthcare system, our healthcare costs crisis and to our future healthcare solution.
As always, this author is proud to be a Nurse Practitioner advocate
Cyn Doyle is the President of Placements USA LLC, a healthcare recruiting firm that specializes in Nurse Practitioner jobs and Physician Assistant jobs. Her Nurse Practitioner jobs and Physician Assistant jobs company motto is “We work hard to help keep America working…” She uses her healthcare recruiting company to advocate for Nurse Practitioner jobs and Physician Assistant jobs.