How to Increase Your Chances of Admission to a Nurse Practitioner Program

As we prepare to ring in the New Year, another season is about to begin…application season.  Many nurse practitioner programs begin accepting applications for fall admission in the winter months making time off over the holidays the perfect time to begin applying to a nurse practitioner program.  Whether you have only a few months or still have a few years until you apply to an NP program, there are a few things you can do to increase your chances of acceptance.

1. Grades, grades, grades

You can join every professional nursing organization in existence, master a second language and volunteer in the medical field every weekend for the rest of your life, but unless you have an academic record of excellence, NP programs will doubt your ability to succeed as you advance your nursing education.  If you don’t have a rockstar GPA, there are a few ways you can improve your chances of admission into a nurse practitioner program.  Re-taking courses where your performance was lacking will show admissions staff you are now more serious about your education.  Taking additional master’s level courses at a local college and achieving high grades will also improve your overall GPA and prove your newfound academic resolve.

2. Nursing Experience

While not all nurse practitioner programs require that students have nursing experience, most prefer that applicants have one to two years of experience working as a nurse under their belt.  This serves as a basis for what students will learn in their nurse practitioner program helping them to advance more quickly.  The more nursing experience you have, the better your chances of acceptance into a nurse practitioner program.

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3. Be a Professional 

Admissions faculty love to see applications from students who have advanced professionally in their nursing careers regardless of if the moves have been large or small.  Upward mobility, seeking additional training and joining professional nursing organizations all bode well for NP program applicants.  If you hope to become a nurse practitioner, seek additional responsibility and training opportunities in your current position.  Becoming an expert in your clinical area of interest will impress admissions staff moving your NP program application to the top of the stack.

4. Understand the Nurse Practitioner Role 

NP program admissions staff want to know you understand what you are signing up for in a career as a nurse practitioner.  Most NP program applications contain an essay question or two designed to assess your understanding of what a nurse practitioner does and how NPs fit into the healthcare system as a whole.  If you aren’t quite sure what the life of a nurse practitioner looks like, job shadow an NP or two to get a better understanding of the nurse practitioner career.  This will help you respond appropriately to essay and interview questions about the nurse practitioner profession.

5. Ace Your Application

Poorly written admissions essays, negative letters of recommendation and a sloppy overall application can completely tank your chances of being accepted to an NP program.  Make sure you spend adequate time completing your NP program application.  Read it, then re-read it, then have a friend or two look over your app.  Your NP program application must be flawless.  It is the only reflection of your abilities and presence admissions faculty will see, so make it good.  There’s no compromising when it comes to your application.

6. Don’t Sweat the Other Stuff

Some prospective NP students worry that if they don’t speak three languages, have international medical volunteer experience and haven’t published medical research they won’t be able to get in to a nurse practitioner program.  While these things are all good, most prospective students haven’t authored original research and aren’t bilingual.  Focus most on your grades, experience and professionalism.  If you have time to work on some additional resume building activities, that’s great but don’t sacrifice the most important parts of your application for less important aspects.

Are you applying to a nurse practitioner program this year?  What problems are you encountering in the admissions process?


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