How Long Should You Wait to Start Working After NP Graduation?

Most nurse practitioner students maintain jobs as nurses, at least in some capacity, throughout the course of their education. While this is beneficial in that it provides an income during graduate school, the comfort of a reliable job can cause some new nurse practitioners to delay the search for an NP position. Just how long is it OK to wait to find a job working as a nurse practitioner once you finish NP school?

There are a few things to consider in creating a timeline for your job search. While there are no hard and fast rules for the steps following nurse practitioner graduation, the path you take can significantly affect your employment outlook. Here’s what new graduate nurse practitioners must consider in the job search timeline. 

1. Certification Success

You’ll never be more motivated to study, take, and pass(!) the nurse practitioner certification exam than when your mind is still in student mode. For most nurse practitioner graduates, the best time to take the certification exam is within one or two months of graduation. This ensures you can apply for your NP license, which you will need to start working, as well as keeps the knowledge you need for the exam fresh. 

2. Maintaining Clinical Knowledge

Are You Ready to Thrive?

Learn more about our online residency program; we pair clinical and professional development to take advanced practice providers to the next level. Get More Info>>

The phrase ‘use it or lose it’ may be cliché, but it holds true when it comes to your nurse practitioner know-how. The longer you wait to work as an NP following graduation, the steeper the learning curve once you do formally step into the nurse practitioner role. Waiting more than a few months to begin working as a nurse practitioner after graduation can be detrimental. You may forget valuable knowledge, and lose the provider mindset you have begun to master as part of your education. The more momentum you can maintain when it comes to using your newfound knowledge, the better. 

3. Employer Concerns

The longer it takes you to find a job post-graduation, whether by choice or otherwise, the more employers take pause over your new grad status. Employers may express concern that you haven’t used your clinical knowledge in several months, doubting your ability to be successful in the workplace. Your job application may be rejected based on the assumption that there’s ‘something wrong with you’ if you haven’t been able to secure employment within a few months of graduation. To stave off concerns from prospective employers, and ensure job search success, begin looking for a nurse practitioner job before, or immediately upon graduating. 

Some nurse practitioners mistakenly wait many months, or even a year, to start working as an NP after getting their degree. In most cases, this is a mistake. It limits employment options, creates a hurdle in your job search, and may set you back clinically in the initial months of your career. Ideally, you should start working as a nurse practitioner within a few months of graduating from your NP program if at all possible. The longer you delay, the more difficult kicking off your nurse practitioner career may be. 

How long did you wait to start working as a nurse practitioner after obtaining your degree?


5 thoughts on “How Long Should You Wait to Start Working After NP Graduation?”

  1. I have been out of NP school for a year (FNP-C) and still do not have an NP job and it’s not by choice. I have secured interviews but each and every time I am passed over for the job because they went with someone who has experience. I volunteer at a free clinic to keep my knowledge and skills up and for experience but that has not seemed to help me secure a job. Sometimes it’s not the fault of the NP, it’s the system in that no one wants to take on the task of hiring a new grad in the outpatient setting. I have seen my ACNP colleagues get jobs right out of school in inpatient settings but when it comes to primary care it’s extremely hard to get someone to hire you as a new grad.

  2. Therese, have you considered reaching out to a locum tenens agency like Mint Physician Staffing? They work with NPs and PAs and have locum and locum to perm jobs available.

  3. I’m right there with you Therese. Had a job promised to me 6 months before graduation, did all my last semesters clinical with that provider and then boom…hires an NP with 20 years experience and I’m left standing with my you know what in my hand. Ok fine, I start searching, get interviews. One place tells me to just get a trauma and PALS cert and that they were very interested. They hire another new grad a week before I get my last cert. Other place super excited about me for a new derm NP position, pretty much made it sound like it was a for sure deal. Then boom…they decide they don’t really have the need currently for a derm provider yet. I’m literally at the end of my rope, extremely depressed, and wished I had never wasted my time or money on this BS degree. Now all I have is fancy initials after my name and a mountain of debt I have to figure out how to pay for.

  4. Therese, Just out of curiosity, how many years as an RN do you have? Asking for myself mainly. About to complete my AGPCNP and just wondered. I have seen many new NP graduates in my area struggle to secure a position.

  5. Schooling for NP’s is subpar, and they are churning students out, which decreases the pay in an environment that is saturated. This is why doctors are requested over nurse practitioners. You have NP’s who barely know anything, the whole system needs to be standardized.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Share Post:

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin

Are you ready to Thrive?

Support + education for early career nurse practitioners.

Have you signed up for our newsletter?

Stay up to date with the latest advanced practice news!

Are you struggling as an early career NP or PA?

Learn more about ThriveAP, the program designed to boost primary care clinical knowledge.

Support and education for early career NPs & PAs

Download the ThriveAP info
packet for more information!

Are You Employed
This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.