I certainly did a lot of on the job learning as a new nurse practitioner. After my first year of practice, however I was an abscess-draining machine and suturing wiz…well, almost. I could spout out the guidelines for treating hypertension in my sleep and diagnose strep with the slightest whiff of a patient’s breath. The most important lessons I learned in my first NP position however were not related to medical knowledge, but rather building a successful career.
Based on my experiences, I have elicited 4 characteristics new NP graduates cannot do without in their first position working as a nurse practitioner.
1. Stellar Supervising Provider
The most important characteristic you must look for in your first nurse practitioner position is an outstanding supervising provider. As a new grad you will have questions every day regarding diagnosis and treatment of your patients. Working for an employer who is understanding of your inexperience is key. You must find an employer who is approachable and patient, someone who is willing to teach you and foster your development into an accomplished NP.
2. Airtight Contract
As a new nurse practitioner I was thrilled to be offered a position working in a primary care clinic just one week after graduation. I skimmed the contract my employer had drafted and signed quickly before he could change his mind about hiring a nurse practitioner without any experience. This was a mistake. The monetary bonuses I had been promised were not described explicitly in the contract and I was not paid thousands of dollars I had been anticipating.
3. Broad Learning Experience
Despite the backbreaking hours you have put into your clinical experiences and the endless numbers of papers you have written, upon graduating from your nurse practitioner program you still ave a lot to learn. Find a nurse practitioner position that will continue to cultivate your learning, one that will offer you a wide variety of clinical experiences and continue to construct the foundation of medical knowledge you have begun to build. Even if you choose to enter specialty practice later in your career it will be beneficial to your future as a nurse practitioner to have a broader focus for your first position allowing you to amass a wider base of clinical knowledge.
4. Work-Life Balance
Becoming a nurse practitioner is not only a career, it is a lifestyle. Your job involves helping others make life-changing decisions. You guide your patients through difficult times in their lives. This is not an easy task. The nurse practitioner career is exciting but also demanding. Make sure that your position as a NP allows you to achieve an appropriate work-life balance so that you can maintain a healthy, happy lifestyle.
When you begin to search for a job, don’t forget to take into account characteristics that will influence your daily life and learning. Finding a good fit for your first NP position will get you started on the right track towards an exciting and successful nurse practitioner career.