New Nurse Practitioners: Do THIS Before Getting Your First Job

So you are a newly minted nurse practitioner. You have your license and certification in hand and are ready to join the workforce as an advanced practice nurse. The only problem is that you are having difficulty finding that first job as a nurse practitioner (this is despite following advice in my 2 part post of Preparing for the Job Search Part I, and Preparing for the Job Search, Part II.) Have you considered applying for a nurse practitioner residency?

Currently, nurse practitioner residency programs are sparse but that may be changing as more federal dollars are appropriated to this model of training and education. The first NP residency was established in 2007 in Connecticut as a program of the Community Health Center. Since then, the Affordable Care Act of 2010 set aside money to expand NP residencies, in mostly under-served and disparate areas, and NP education across the United States. The funding is slated to last for three years and was awarded mostly to universities and to 2 Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) networks. The California FQHC network are the Santa Rosa Community Health Centers while the other is located in Maine and is through Penobscot Community Health Care.

Other NP Residencies include one in Austin, Texas via the University of Texas and one through the Mayo School of Health & Sciences and affiliates.

The residency model is nothing new and is part of the medical education curriculum. In addition, it has been funded by federal dollars since Medicare was enacted in 1965. This allows the programs to be administered while offering the post graduates a salary and benefits while being trained.

It is great to see this model being further developed for nurse practitioners. New NP graduates will benefit from an intense immersion into primary care with the support of clinical faculty while being modestly paid with health benefits. These post graduate nurse practitioners will be experts in community based primary care – exactly what our health system needs as more Americans will be seeking health care under the Affordable Care Act and with an increasing emphasis on primary care.

What can one expect when applying to one of these 3 programs? For one, competition. Residency slots are very few and range from 2 – 4 graduates per year. Secondly, the NP graduates must be licensed in the state in which the practices are located. Finally, there are the typical applications, interview, and credentialing process that must be completed.

All of the above programs are actively recruiting for 2013-2014 placements so now is the time to get in touch with them to gather more information and apply. Just one note: the residencies are often limited to family nurse practitioners. However, check with each program as their requirements may differ. Since residency-type programs were mentioned in the historic 2010 IOM Future of Nursing publication, I predict that we will see more of these programs developed if the appropriate federal subsidized money is in place and it may even serve as a future model of post graduate NP training and education.

For more information on the rationale for the NP residency model, Dr. Margaret Flinter, nurse practitioner, is largely credited for being the pioneer of the model and wrote the recent article, From New Nurse Practitioner to Primary Care Provider: Bridging the Transition through FQHC-Based Residency Training.