So you’ve survived nurse practitioner school, passed your national board-certification exam, and — with your head barely above water — you’ve struck out into the job-hunting jungle. But where to begin? They don’t really prepare you for this in school.
Never fear! Only a few years ago, I too was fighting my way through the tangled Amazon of resumes, recruiters, and residencies. This article offers the brass tacks of assessing your career opportunities, preparing your curriculum vitae, and persevering through this inevitability challenging time.
The New Grad Checklist
First, ask yourself if you want to do a residency program. Residency and fellowship programs for nurse practitioners come in all shapes and sizes. They provide opportunities to gain additional experience and knowledge in your clinical specialty, and they often allow nurse practitioners to sub-specialize in areas of interest such as dermatology, oncology, and emergency medicine. Consider choosing a program that educates its nurse practitioner and physician residents together.
You’ll need to develop a strong resume, cover letter, and list of professional references. Remember, these items illustrate who you are to a potential employer. Be sure to include your education, licenses, certifications, and experiences. Use the free grammar checker at Grammarly.com to catch any lingering errors, and be sure to customize your application for each job.
You should also consider hopping on the LinkedIn train. This social media platform is specifically designed for professional networking, and it allows you to create and publish an online resume, display your achievements, and maintain professional contacts. You can use it to connect with recruiters and search for jobs. Feel free to check out my LinkedIn profile and connect with me for inspiration!
Where Do You Want to Work? Know Your Options
Nurse practitioners, including new graduates, have the option to work in a variety of settings. As you embark on your job hunt, reflect on your ideal practice setting. Ask yourself:
- Clinic or hospital?
- Urban or rural?
- National or international?
- Inpatient or outpatient?
- East coast or west coast?
- Nights and weekends or Monday through Friday?
- Permanent or locum tenens?
- In-person or telemedicine?
- Private practice or hospital affiliation?
Consider the Unconventional
As you explore your options, consider unconventional facilities such as homeless shelters, jails, retail clinics, cruise ships, military bases, corporations, and American Indian reservations. Locum tenens jobs offer a unique opportunity to try a variety of settings in a short amount of time. Beginning your career with locum tenens awards higher pay, independence, and the ability to test out different types of practice settings
New grads may wish to apply for nonclinical positions as well. There are many opportunities for those interested in careers outside of direct patient care, though you may not have heard much about them in school. Publishing companies need writers and editors. Hospitals need educators. Public health offices need advocates. Cities need councilors. Technology corporations need product managers. Universities need professors. Law firms need consultants. Volunteer agencies and nonprofits need, well, volunteers. The opportunities are truly endless for nurse practitioners.
Getting Down to Business
After all that contemplating, it’s time to get to work. You need to write that resume, build that LinkedIn profile, and get out and network. Join the American Association of Nurse Practitioners as well as your local nurse practitioner group. Consider attending Meetups tailored toward healthcare, nursing, and medicine.
During networking events, be sure to bring business cards to exchange with your colleagues to stay in touch. Business cards are cheap and easy to make on Vistaprint. After each event, connect with the people you met on LinkedIn, and send them a brief thank-you message. Building up a list of professional connections can help you find more opportunities in the long run.
As you maneuver through the job jungle, don’t give up! Stay positive, and remember how exciting it is to join the nurse practitioner profession. Although it may be tough to weed through the recruiters and questions and logistics, you’ll come out on top with an awesome job. Trust me, if you made it through nurse practitioner school, you can make it through anything!