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NP Graduates

NP Guide to Employment: How can I have experience if you don’t give it to me?


You have put in the hours, said your good-byes, and have completed school. Now it is time to take the dreaded certification exam, apply for licensure, and enter the NP profession. However, transitioning from RN to NP involves many layers and most graduates are concerned about what to do prior to landing their first job. But how do you get the experience as a new graduate?


On average, it takes six months to a year for new graduates to land their first job. Preparation is key when you are awaiting the opportunity. Prepare your CV and a cover letter to highlight your strengths. In the interim, consider volunteering at non-profit practices or working locum tenens to maintain your practice skills. Remember you are more likely to attain a position when you are qualified.


Do you really have no experience? No. Your experience as an RN is a great foundation but most employers are looking for practitioners who can hit the ground running. Setting realistic expectations for your qualifications will minimize the anxiety that comes along with the transition process. After all, functioning as a provider is a learning curve and it is ok for you to take the time necessary to adjust to your new role. Expect to encounter the unfamiliar and be open to feedback that will enhance your practice.


Seeking employment is the most exciting yet stressful aspect of becoming a nurse practitioner. Indeed is the most popular job search engine. But have you considered LinkedIn or networking at a professional event? Sometimes landing a job is based on who you know and not what you know. Consider joining a local NP organization to identify the pool of opportunities and increase your chances of an interview. Some new graduates have networked during their preceptorships and secured job opportunities.


Although most employers do not consider new graduates for certain positions, you should still consider applying. With a great CV, chances are an employer would consider training you. Even more, have a working knowledge about your prospective employer to prepare for questions such as “Why would you like to work for us?”


Of course, seal the interview with a thank you card addressed to the individual or interview panel, if applicable. Expressing gratitude solidifies your interest and moves your application to the top. Next phase is the job offer and negotiation. Be sure to research salary.com or other resources to know what’s comparable for new graduates for the NP specialty you desire.

Role transitioning can be difficult, but remember that you are never alone. Every competent NP was once a novice. Give yourself time to adjust, connect with a mentor or network to support during your transition as well as throughout practice.