How Long Should You Wait to Start Working After NP Graduation?

Most nurse practitioner students maintain jobs as nurses, at least in some capacity, throughout the course of their education. While this is beneficial in that it provides an income during graduate school, the comfort of a reliable job can cause some new nurse practitioners to delay the search for an NP position. Just how long is it OK to wait to find a job working as a nurse practitioner once you finish NP school?

There are a few things to consider in creating a timeline for your job search. While there are no hard and fast rules for the steps following nurse practitioner graduation, the path you take can significantly affect your employment outlook. Here's what new graduate nurse practitioners must consider in the job search timeline. 

1. Certification Success

You'll never be more motivated to study, take, and pass(!) the nurse practitioner certification exam than when your mind is still in student mode. For most nurse practitioner graduates, the best time to take the certification exam is within one or two months of graduation. This ensures you can apply for your NP license, which you will need to start working, as well as keeps the knowledge you need for the exam fresh. 

2. Maintaining Clinical Knowledge

The phrase 'use it or lose it' may be cliché, but it holds true when it comes to your nurse practitioner know-how. The longer you wait to work as an NP following graduation, the steeper the learning curve once you do formally step into the nurse practitioner role. Waiting more than a few months to begin working as a nurse practitioner after graduation can be detrimental. You may forget valuable knowledge, and lose the provider mindset you have begun to master as part of your education. The more momentum you can maintain when it comes to using your newfound knowledge, the better. 

3. Employer Concerns

The longer it takes you to find a job post-graduation, whether by choice or otherwise, the more employers take pause over your new grad status. Employers may express concern that you haven't used your clinical knowledge in several months, doubting your ability to be successful in the workplace. Your job application may be rejected based on the assumption that there's 'something wrong with you' if you haven't been able to secure employment within a few months of graduation. To stave off concerns from prospective employers, and ensure job search success, begin looking for a nurse practitioner job before, or immediately upon graduating. 

Some nurse practitioners mistakenly wait many months, or even a year, to start working as an NP after getting their degree. In most cases, this is a mistake. It limits employment options, creates a hurdle in your job search, and may set you back clinically in the initial months of your career. Ideally, you should start working as a nurse practitioner within a few months of graduating from your NP program if at all possible. The longer you delay, the more difficult kicking off your nurse practitioner career may be. 

How long did you wait to start working as a nurse practitioner after obtaining your degree?

 

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