I graduated from my nurse practitioner program three years ago. I still vividly recall my first experiences as a new nurse practitioner graduate. I was expected to do nearly the same job as the physician I worked with but with many years less schooling. Welcome to on-the-job learning. You will face many challenges as a new nurse practitioner graduate. What should you look for in your first job to help you face and meet the demands of your new career most effectively?
The most important factor in your first job as an NP will be your supervising physician. Yes, I know in many states you are qualified to work independently but I would highly recommend working with a physician or another very experienced NP for your first year or two out of school to become a more proficient nurse practitioner. What characteristics should you look for in this individual?
You are going to have multiple questions every day in your first experience as a nurse practitioner. If your supervising physician is intimidating or unapproachable, you will have a difficult time. You will be forced with the decision to not ask questions and potentially make a mistake or endure an uncomfortable conversation. If you do not see your supervisor as approachable, it will significantly limit your learning and slow your progression as a nurse practitioner.
2. Well Balanced View of Medical Practice
As much as we hate to admit it, medicine is a business. Doctors and nurse practitioners are paid, as they deserve to be, for the services they provide. Some healthcare providers lose sight of their mission to help others by providing medical care instead focusing solely on financial gain. In my first job as a nurse practitioner, my supervising physician encouraged ordering tests patients may not need in order to make a larger profit. This is bad medicine and a situation you must avoid. Find a medical practice that prides themselves on the quality of care they provide rather than profits. This may be difficult to discern initially. Ask the other NP’s working for your potential employer to give you an idea of your prospective employer’s philosophies.
Many physicians and nurse practitioners own their own clinics. However, some healthcare providers although excellent providers may be poor business managers of their clinics. This leads to a stressful career. Employee turnover in these clinics is high, processes are not streamlined leading to inefficiency and disorganization. If your clinic is poorly managed, it will hinder your learning as a new nurse practitioner. One caveat: clinics with high employee turnover are hiring more frequently. If you cannot find another job as an NP, you may consider working in this type of environment to gain some experience if it is the only available position you can find.
Working for a physician or nurse practitioner who has hired other new NP grads will be beneficial. You will have a lot to learn initially and if your supervising provider expects this, your relationship will go more smoothly. If your prospective employer has not recently hired a new grad, express to them that you will have many questions as you continue to improve your level of proficiency but are eager to learn and will work hard to improve quickly. This way, you manage your employer’s expectations and they will recognize your deficits as a new grad but be confident you will continue to improve.
Are you a new NP grad? Feel free to contact me with any questions about finding your first job or what might be a good fit for you. Are you currently working as an NP? We would love to hear your advice on what to look for in a first job.