If you’re a nurse practitioner student this year, finals season is probably looming on the horizon. The pressure to study is mounting and anxiety-filled review sessions are imminent. But, will all the stress really matter once you’ve graduated and are looking for your first nurse practitioner job? How much do employers really care about your grades?
The bottom-line is that most employers hiring nurse practitioners won’t ask about your GPA at all once you’ve graduated (if they follow typical employment trends, at least). Whether you’re a C student or you earned a perfect 4.0 will be your news to electively share. This may come as a relief to some NP students and be considered unfair to others, but in my nearly 10 years working as a nurse practitioner I’ve never been asked about my GPA nor have any of my colleagues or former classmates I’ve talked with. Rather, employers look more to experience as a benchmark of your ability as a nurse practitioner.
One exception to this rule would be if you’re applying to a post-graduate learning opportunity such as a nurse practitioner residency. While these opportunities are technically employed experiences, admission can be quite competitive and requires aspiring NPs to share their academic records.
Why don’t employers ask for your GPA? In reality, academic transcripts aren’t a reliable predictor of NPs’ clinical abilities. Some schools inflate grades making it easier to get A’s than others. A high grade on a nursing theory essay assignment doesn’t necessarily mean you’re able to diagnose complex patients. Employers are focused on the practical – your ability to see patients in a safe, efficient and effective manner.
1. You might actually learn something
As a new graduate NP, you’re going to need to know a lot to jump into practice. While studying for a pharmacology final seems like a total drag now, you’re going to be putting this knowledge to work in a few short months. It’s best to learn as much as you can in school so you’re prepared for employment.
2. You will need references
While employers don’t ask for your GPA, they do usually request references. Providers you’ve worked with in your nurse practitioner clinicals make excellent references as they can speak to your developing talents as an NP. So, employers may not necessarily need to see that you received an A in your clinical courses, but they may end up talking with these mentors and instructors.
3. You might decide to further your education
The DNP isn’t mandatory for nurse practitioners, but NPs in increasing numbers are deciding to further their education. If you anticipate getting another degree in the future, you can be certain that academic institutions will request prior transcripts and take GPA into account in their acceptance decision.
So, rest assured. Your hard work won’t go to waste as you transition from your NP program into the employment setting. On the other hand, if you have a final or two that gets away from you, your nurse practitioner career isn’t ruined.
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