5 Professional Relationships to Build in Your NP Program

Are there any other lovers of The Office out there? The show is hands down my favorite sitcom of all time. Although I don't work in a traditional office setting, I can appreciate (and laugh at) the different personalities at play in the series. There's the workplace love connection between Jim and Pam, Andy's propensity to yell disruptively when frustrated, and, of course, Michael Scott's awkward sense of humor. Whenever I watch the show I can't help but chuckle at the strong personalities sprinkled around my own place of employment as well.

While I don't typically encourage romantic connections at work (OK, maybe for Jim and Pam) and advise treading lightly with those at school, there are several professional relationships that you must build as a nurse practitioner. The foundation of these relationships begins during your nurse practitioner program.

New grad NPs are much better prepared for the real world and find themselves a step ahead of the pack in their job search when they have fostered these five connections. 

1. Faculty, Staff, and Guest Lecturers

Once your professor finally releases you from your hours long clinical conference, naturally you make a beeline for the door. Happy hour awaits. As a former NP student, I can relate. It may seem tempting to cut out of class at the earliest possible moment, to ignore faculty office hours, and to stick exclusively to Google when it comes to getting help with your most recent theory paper. Taking the time to develop relationships with your professors and other NP program faculty members however is a must. These individuals have connections in your community, and possible even nation wide which can help in your future job search not to mention they are a wealth of knowledge. Don't let this resource go to waste. After all, you're paying for it!

2. Preceptors in Your Clinical Rotations

You're in luck if you have secured yourself a quality clinical preceptor. Preceptors are grounded in the real world when it comes to the NP career which is where you will find yourself as well post-graduation. Your preceptors can serve an an invaluable resource in your future job search and may even consider hiring you themselves. So, work hard throughout your clinical time. Ask smart questions and find ways to be helpful in the clinic or on the hospital floor. Giving back a little bit goes a long way in making a good impression. Get to know your preceptors and office staff so you can use them for a resource or recommendation at a later date. 

3. Members of a Local Nurse Practitioner Organization

If you live in a medium to large city, your area likely has a local nurse practitioner organization. Start attending meetings during your time as an NP student. Rather than selecting a seat in the back and enjoying the free pharma-funded buffet, attend these meetings with a mission. Bring a notebook and take business cards or contact information from other nurse practitioners you meet. You can fall back on these contacts should you have a question or need once you graduate. These individuals may even be able to help you find your next preceptor

4. Classmates

Fostering relationships with your fellow nurse practitioner program classmates is a must. These individuals understand what you are going through and can be an excellent source of emotional and academic support throughout your program. Not only will relationships with your fellow NP students help get you through your program sanely, they are the start of your future professional network. Maintaining contact with your classmates gives you connections to specialists, employers, and other career-building opportunities in the future. And, who doesn't like making new friendsKick off your efforts to connect with your cohorts by organizing a weekly or bi-weekly happy hour or coffee house study session. 

5. Current Work Colleagues

NP students are hard workers. Many maintain full or part-time employment throughout their time in school. If you find yourself in this position, don't forget to continue developing connections and relationships in your current workplace. Network with other providers in your hospital. They may be helpful in your future job search. You may need some flexibility in your work schedule as you progress throughout your NP program, and having good standing with your boss and colleagues is more likely to get you the accommodations you need to succeed in your education. 

 

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