Thinking about when to start applying for NP jobs can be overwhelming. You have a lot to think about with nurse practitioner school graduation and your board exam coming up. So, as a current NP school student, and soon-to-be new grad NP, when are you supposed to start applying for nurse practitioner jobs?
The truth is, everyone’s nurse practitioner job search timeline will look a little bit different. Much of the process is influenced by multiple factors that are unique to you and your current situation.
In the video below, you’ll learn all the ins and outs of the new grad NP timeline, specifically:
- When I recommend new nurse practitioners start the NP job search process
- The licenses and certifications you’ll need to have before you can start working as a nurse practitioner
- The “order of operations” for applying for these NP credentials
Video Overview of Your Nurse Practitioner Graduation Timeline
Want to get your hands on this information fast? I have the perfect resource for you.
Or, keep scrolling to read exactly how to plan the months before and after graduation as a nurse practitioner.
An Overview of the Steps To Take Before and After NP School Graduation
I get asked questions frequently from NP school students, soon to be nurse practitioner graduations, and brand new NPs. And often the questions have to do with graduation timelines, and the order of operations for graduating, testing, credentialing, and applying for jobs.
As you approach nurse practitioner school graduation, things start to explode. You’re getting ready for the graduation ceremony itself, you’re getting ready to study and take your boards. And then in the midst of all this, you’re supposed to be credentialing yourself, and applying for a job.
It can be really, really overwhelming. So I’m going to break down this timeline so that you can feel more comfortable and confident in this next exciting chapter of your nursing career.
Let’s get started.
As you prepare to graduate from NP school, it’s important to make sure that you are taking the time to focus on your job search, and all the other things that need to happen so that you can seamlessly transition from school to practice with as few bumps as possible, and in as little time as possible.
Starting Your NP Job Search
About two to three months before NP school graduation, I recommend you start to think about your NP job search.
The first thing you want to do is take a look at your resume or CV and get that in order. Getting your new grad NP resume ready in advance of graduation is really valuable. It will help clear some of your headspace, and ensure that this critical step doesn’t hold you back from moving forward with your potential dream job in a few months. Truly, it’s just a nice step to check off sooner rather than later, so that as you prepare to reach out and network and talk about job opportunities, you have your resume ready to go.
Next, I want you to think about where geographically you’re going to work as a new nurse practitioner. Perhaps you’ll look for work as a new grad NP in the same area that you went to school. But many people move in order to attend school, so maybe you’re going to be headed home, or to a new city or state. So that’s one of the first things you should think about, before looking for jobs, right? Where do you want to live and work as a new grad NP? Once you narrow that down, you can get a little bit more serious and strategic about your job search.
Once you’ve decided where geographically you’re going to be looking for jobs, I want you to explore your professional network. Take some time to sit down and think about all of the people that you’ve connected with professionally in the past: either during your nursing career, or your career as an NP student.
Recall and even write down (or start a spreadsheet) your previous work colleagues, your friends, your personal network, your own personal healthcare providers, your professors, and mentors. You’ll want to start putting some feelers out now! Let people know that you are looking for a position, share where you want to be working, and try to see if anyone in your network is able to help you get where you want to go. The reality is the majority of the jobs these days are filled by referral and word of mouth as opposed to cold candidates. So using your network and exploring your network for opportunities is a great first place to start with your job strategy, even before graduation.
Around this same period of time, you’ll want to start getting a pulse on the job climate in the area that you plan to work. Keep an eye on the online job boards, see what type of positions are being listed, and even consider casually talking to people who you know who are already working as NPs.
You can ask current NPs what it was like for them to get a job. What’s the job climate like where they work? Are there a lot of people competing for positions or does it look like you’ll probably have the pick up positions because there aren’t that many nurse practitioners in your geographic areas?
This is all research that you want to be doing in advance of graduation. Understanding the unique job climate where you want to work is something that I think is really smart to be doing ahead of graduation so that once you graduate, you can just focus on the boards.
Studying and Passing Your Boards
Once you’re ready to graduate and you’ve received your authorization to test, your main focus should really be studying for your boards and passing your boards.
If you’ve already done some initial job search and market research in advance of graduation, this can be a time that you can solely focus on studying. Try to do as much as you can on the front end so that when it comes time a month before your boards, you can really take the opportunity to study solidly so that you don’t have to worry about taking the exam again.
Applying for State License
After you’ve taken and passed your boards, you can apply for your state license.
This is a huge step! Because once you get your state license, you can legally work as a nurse practitioner, which is really super exciting, right? That’s what we’ve all been working towards.
At this point, I recommend you consult your State Board of Nursing. Here you’ll be able to learn the exact process for when you can submit your forms, what verification things they need, etc. Take time to understand this process, to ensure it’s as seamless as possible. It will likely require a few phone calls. You’ll have to send transcripts from your school. There are a lot of steps to take but take your time and be focused on details so that you can follow the directions provided to you, and get the each step done.
I will warn you that this can be a lengthy process! But remember, once you have been issued your state license, then you can officially work legally. How exciting!
Getting Credentialed as a NP
Once you have your state license, you can legally work as a nurse practitioner, but you still need to be credentialed.
What that means is that you need to be registered with insurance companies as a provider if you plan to work for a hospital or a clinic that bills insurance, which the majority of us do. There are a few cash pay situations out there, but chances are you’ll be working as a new nurse practitioner in a medical setting that bills for insurance.
So what you’ll need is an National Provider identification (NPI) number. Thankfully, this is really easy to get but you have to have your license first before you’re apply to get your NPI.
Next, there are a few other things you may need to be thinking about, depending on where you are in your job search process.
If you are expecting to prescribe scheduled substances (which you may know if you’re in the process of getting a job at this point), you’ll need your DEA number, your DEA license. Keep in mind this is not something that you need right away, and it’s actually best to wait until you’ve talked to your future employer about whether they will be compensating you for your DEA license. Because chances are you won’t be prescribing in your orientation period. And hopefully, they’ve volunteered to pay for that for you. Otherwise, you’ll be forking over a very nice $731 for your DEA license.
So your DEA license is not something that I think that you need before you apply to jobs or before you start. But if you’ve gotten to the point where you are licensed and you don’t have any warm or hot job leads, then you may want to get that so that once you have a position that’s moving forward that’s already in place.
If you haven’t found a job by this point, don’t sweat it, they’ll still be opportunity for you to focus more on your job search now that all the logistics are out of the way. Plus, you’ll have the added benefit of being more immediately employable because you’re already licensed by your state. And you’ve already started the credentialing process.
This actually brings up a great point. There is one downside to looking for NP jobs too far in advance of nurse practitioner school graduation. Employers looking to fill an immediate vacancy want a candidate to be licensed, credentialed, and certified to enter into the role immediately.
So if you haven’t yet found a job by the time you are licensed, this actually now makes you a little bit higher on the list for people that are looking for an immediate opening for nurse practitioner!
Hopefully this overview has given you a better sense of the the steps you need to take before and after graduation as a nurse practitioner. And if you’ve found this helpful, I encourage you to download your free guide for new nurse practitioners, which includes a credentialing checklist and glossary, as well as a cheat sheet of what to do when, and the timeline of the things that you should be doing surrounding graduation.