How to Narrow Down Your Nurse Practitioner School Options
Over the next few weeks here on MidlevelU, we'll be looking at nurse practitioner programs across the country sharing our picks for the best schools region by region. Before we dive into these NP program rankings, it's important for aspiring NPS to understand how we arrived at our top picks.
Based on our own experiences and our conversations with NP students, at MidlevelU, we've identified three key things to look at in nurse practitioner school selection. They are as follows:
- Passing rate on the national nurse practitioner certification exam
- Helpfulness of the school in matching students with clinical sites
- Number of students finding jobs within a few months of graduation
Why do we look at these characteristics so closely?
Passing rate on the national nurse practitioner certification exam
The national nurse practitioner certification exam will be the culmination of your NP education. The exam is cumulative, covering everything you should of learned in your program. Student's rate of success on the national certification exam is an indicator of how well each school prepares future nurse practitioners. Sure, stats at smaller schools may be thrown off by a few bad standardized test takers, but we're going for the big picture here.
Helpfulness of the school in matching students with clinical sites
In our conversations with nurse practitioner students, the number one frustration NP students feel relates to identifying clinical sites and preceptors. As a nurse practitioner student, you will need a real, live, practicing NP, PA, or MD to take you under his or her wing to help with your training. Inability to find such a soul results in tremendous stress for the NP student, and may even require that nurse practitioner students relocate temporarily to complete clinical hours, or delay graduation based on preceptor availability.
Some schools help with this problem by assigning preceptors to students. This may mean your clinical placement doesn't look exactly like you imagined or fit as neatly into your schedule as you had hoped, but in our opinion, it's better than the alternative.
Number of students finding jobs within a few months of graduation
100 percent of the NP students we talk with are entering a graduate program with the ultimate goal of employment as a nurse practitioner. So, why not choose a school with a demonstrated track record of producing NPs capable of landing employment efficiently. Job placement statistics do depend on the job market in the area surrounding the school as well as the location where graduates are looking for work. Again, we're going for a general idea here.
There are a number of other things to keep in mind as you search for the nurse practitioner program to best meet your needs. These three characteristics are a good place to start to narrow down your options. Stay tuned to the MidlevelU blog for our regional nurse practitioner program rankings!
How did you choose your nurse practitioner program?
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