5 Things You Shouldn't Sweat as a Nurse Practitioner New Grad

I remember life as a new graduate nurse practitioner all too painfully well. Upon graduating from my NP program, I squeezed a much needed tropical getaway into the four day break I had between my the end of my academic and beginning of my professional careers. Then, I marched through the tall glass doors of the clinic where I was newly employed ready for day one as a nurse practitioner. 

While school had left me a little burnt out on learning and job shadowing, I wasn't concerned - I was now employed, no longer a bothersome clinical student. Or, so I thought. My first months on the job as a new nurse practitioner seemed to mirror those as a clinical student but with somewhat more independence. I arrived home exhausted emotionally and physically from the workday as simple patient care tasks required significant effort in my novice state. Many new nurse practitioner new grads I talk with express similar sentiments. 

Fortunately new grad NP friends, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Your first months working as a nurse practitioner will be full of ups, downs and bumps in the road. The temptation during this time is to feel as if you've failed, aren't good enough, or will never make it as an NP. Don't succumb to these thoughts. Rather, realize life gets better. In the interim, don't sweat these things.

1. Feeling like a total bother

My number one frustration with my first nurse practitioner job was that I felt like a complete bother. The amount of Q&A between myself and my fellow NP colleagues was embarrassing. Typically an independent personality, I uncomfortably clung to my coworkers and physician supervisor begging for assistance with a procedure here, help with a diagnosis there and asking question after question after question. Even in the face of problems which I could solve on my own, I felt like a nuisance as looking up information in reference texts and online left me with slow turnover of patient exam rooms. Other providers took up my slack by keeping the ever full waiting room at a reasonable capacity. 

As a new grad nurse practitioner you can't let feeling like an annoyance rather than an asset get you down. If you don't ask questions, you will make mistakes. Guaranteed. Then, you'll really feel like a weak link. The more you ask now, the more quickly you'll get your clinical feet on the ground. 

2. Earning a less than average NP salary

Accepting a position with a less than stellar salary can be pretty demoralizing, particularly when you've got a mountain of student loans to pay off. However, as a nurse practitioner new graduate, accepting a position with a solid support system will pay off far better long-term. If at all possible, don't sweat your salary too much in your first years as an NP. Building a hardcore foundation for the rest of your career is more important. 

3. A lengthy job search

With a sparse resume, at least when it comes to nurse practitioner experience, a lengthy job search post-graduation is likely. Don't get down on yourself when a door shuts in your face. Rather, learn from the experience and hone your personal marketing pitch for the next initial interview or introduction. Expect obstacles in your job search. Don't forget to plan ahead financially for such a scenario. This way you minimize anxiety as you search for the perfect first nurse practitioner opportunity. 

4. Questioning your career move

When life as a new nurse practitioner graduate doesn't turn out quite as expected or you hit a few bumps in the road, keep your held held high and power through. Learning anything new can be frustrating. The expectations placed on you as a nurse practitioner are high and it takes experience to meet them consistently. Do your best. Own up to your weaknesses. Ask for help to overcome them. A difficult start doesn't mean you made the wrong career move. 

5. Being totally exhausted at all times

 As a new nurse practitioner graduate, life can be physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausting. Inadequacies professionally play on your mood and energy level. Remember, your job will only become easier as each day passes. Initial exhausting patient encounters become routine so eventually you can excel. Don't sweat feeling burnt out in your first few months of practice. The effort you must put forth at work will level out leaving you with more energy for personal endeavors. 

What are your biggest frustrations as a new grad NP? Have these things improved as you have gained more experience?

 

Comments

Thanks! Ups and downs for sure. When you don't hear about the ups and downs from your NP co-workers you tend to think you are all alone :) Especially when you have to run out the room to look up a dose.

- Shelley NP

Thanks for the reassurance. Starting a new job after graduating NP school is stressful. It is easy to feel inadequate and embarrassed that I don't know everything. It is really nice to hear some validation that everyone feels this way in the beginning, and that it will get better with time.

- New grad in CT

Thank you for this post! I know that start of my first NP job will be hard, and i expect to suffer a bit. But it is comforting to hear this in writing. I just may sleep with your post under my pillow for the first month!!

- Sheryl

This is just what I needed to hear. I've only been on my own for a month and I keep wondering why I have to still ask questions and look so many things up. TY!!!!!

- Sue

I did feel embarrassed, alone, and used when I worked for a private practice. Now I am more experienced and work in a new job where I feel more confident. It takes time. Just like our inner novice nurse we develop into experts. Keep your head up.

- Cece

The first 6 months were exceptionally tough, but life gets better! One year out I no longer feel like a constant bother to the other providers in my office. Some things are actually coming easier and I can say that I think I am doing a good job. I still come across something new daily and UpToDate is my still my best friend, but I can breath. I am not on the edge of a panic attack daily, and I am feeling like it was all worth it. There is a light at the end of the tunnel and its not the train!

- Rhonda

Thank you for this! I was wondering if I'm the only one feeling so uncertain and questioning everything. It's so helpful to hear others go through this and that it gets better in time.

- New grad in WI

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