Career as a Nurse Practitioner

Getting a Job as a Nurse Practitioner

NP is a great career choice, offering a high salary, strong career growth and fewer years in school than an M.D., who may spend up to 11 years in education and residency.

As a nurse practitioner student, you may wish to apply for jobs during your final few months in school. Many hospitals have new graduate programs designed for NPs to secure jobs before graduating. In fact, some hospitals agree to pay for an NP’s education in exchange for going to work for them after graduation.

The Application

To stand out when applying for NP jobs, first write a great resume. On it, quantify accomplishments wherever possible: “Prescribed medications to 15 patients each morning," and, "Observed and recorded reaction to medication of 4 patients per hour.” Additionally, use short sentences without first person pronouns. Instead of saying, “I routinely ordered lab work,” say, “Routinely ordered lab work.”

As for your portfolio: No employer or position is the same, but most in this field will want to see the following materials.

a resume or curriculum vitae that includes contact information, employment and education history, volunteer experience, awards and publications
a copy of a current state license
a copy of any current certifications
membership of a state or regional or special interest association
letters of reference from previous employers and colleagues
documentation of continuing education, any additional certificates or clinical training (clients seen, problems treated, et cetera)

The Interview

Once your portfolio has been pieced together, the next step is preparing for interview questions that you might encounter. We pulled the most salient questions asked of NP applicants, according to What would your answers be?

Why did you chose to apply for a retail clinic position?Are you prepared for the anxious mothers in pediatrics?
What experience have you had as a nurse practitioner?How comfortable are you working with primarily an adult male population?
Discuss the most difficult patient in your practice and how you handled the situation.Why did you decide to become a nurse practitioner?

Asking Your Own Questions

Typically, hiring managers will give you a chance to ask questions near the end of most interviews. What should you be asking?

What things have other NPs done in this practice that have helped them succeed?Why is the current NP leaving?
Describe a typical work week for NPs in this practice.What do you find most fulfilling about working as an NP in this facility?
How much oversight will the NP in this position have?Will I be expected to mentor other nurses?
What’s the interaction like among the physicians and the NPs here?What technology does the office have?
Are the hours 9 to 5 or will there be overtime?What’s the patient population like?
What challenges do you see for the NP taking this job?How many patients will I be expected to see each day?

Job Boards for Nurses

Beyond making your own connections -- and leveraging your graduate program's -- putting in your application online is the most common way to go. Here are some additional best job boards for nurse practitioners and their peers.

Where to Be a Nurse Practitioner

Here at ValuePenguin, we have multiple definitions for the word "place." Where you work can refer to your environment, your city and your state. With that said, here are our best places for nurse practitioners to live and work.

Areas of Practice

It's a physical job, and nurse practitioners spend many of their working hours in action, moving around, even if they are afforded time with each patient. The bulk of NPs work in offices, but these pros earn about $7,000 less, on average, than their peers working in state, local and private hospitals.

"Nurse practitioners have the ability to transition to different fields of medicine. I'm able to gain experience in different specialties throughout my career, which allows for more flexibility and ultimately a better quality of life for me and family."

Christopher Caulfield, FNP, MSN

Frontier Nursing University, 2016

Best States

Look to the Bureau of Labor Statistics' data for advisement on the state level. For every profession, the BLS breaks down the following.

States with Highest Employment of Nurse Practitioners


States with Highest per Capita Employment


States with Highest Annual Average Salary


Q&A: DNP Sharon Campbell

While patients do often have a fixation on getting a doctor's opinion, sometimes job title doesn't matter if they already know you. That's what Atlanta-based Dr. Sharon Campbell found after earning her DNP degree. "After a couple minutes (of explaining her new title), they’re like, 'OK. You’ve been taking care of me for 10 years,'” Campbell told ValuePenguin. "The caring, and taking care of them properly, that overshadows everything." We also asked the experienced nurse about the students she teaches.

  • Who do you teach?

    I teach both master’s and students who are going to get their baccalaureate degree. They have a fair idea of the degree that they’re seeking, yet not everybody is 100% sure of what they want to do with it. But they do know that that’s the first step itself. When I start, I introduce myself the first day of class, and my background, and tell them how I got there; I let them know where they are and the type of support they want to do, it is the first stepping-stone to get to that point. So they know that they need to have a bachelor’s. But whether they want to go into administration, or a nurse practitioner, they know that it is essential to have that degree.

  • What qualities do your best students have?

    They all vary, and everyone varies. One thing that I’m very cautious about is judging them in that way. The reason why I say that is you can have adult students — because the majority of my students are adults — you have adult students who really don’t work, and have enough time to think and have clarity in what they want to do and are able to express that, and at the same time you can have students who may have two jobs, and are really doing well in school but don’t have that time or that clarity to sit down and articulate where they want to be and what they want to do. I do know that everyone in my classes, in my baccalaureate classes, they have high aspirations. They all have high aspirations. As to what direction their aspirations are going, some aren’t quite sure. Some know that they want to advance where they are now or go further in management. It’s hard for me to say, pick out the crop, because they are all different and they are all so capable.

  • What is your advice to these students?

    What I tell them is that if you go into the field of nursing, without the underlying quality of wanting to care for patients, then don’t even bother. That’s what it takes, and it’s going to wear you down, and you’re going to leave it before it leaves you. I tell them to ask themselves, is this something that they want to do daily? Even on a day when you wake up and you feel like you have nothing left to give, your tank is empty, can you find enough inside to provide best care? If the answer is yes, then this is what you want to do. Do you want to be a life-long learner? If the answer is yes, then this is what you want to do. There are certain qualities that you have to have, and those are some of the basics. You have to genuinely care.

  • What do you mean by, “it can wear you down”?

    Every day we wake up and we’re in the business of healing the sick. It’s not like we have a job where we get up every day and speak to people who are well. People come to see us because they’re not feeling well. Whether it’s a psychological issue, a social issue, a medical issue, there is something wrong. And when there’s something wrong, and this is your business, and every day people that you come into contact with is telling you that something’s wrong, you have to be able to handle that and appropriately place it. If you don’t, and if you don’t learn how to do this, then it can wear you down. Can you imagine seeing patients who, just for example, have terminal illnesses? Or ten patients who have terminal illnesses? Now, with each patient, you’re not only dealing with that terminal illness: you’re dealing with their families, you’re dealing with them psychologically… you’re dealing with an array of different problems. At the end of the day, you have to walk away and say, “I did my best. I put my best foot forward,” and not have a feeling of burden.

Read the full @VP_Careers Q&A here.

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