NP Job Search Logistics: States Where Licensing Matters

I’ve talked before about how state scope of practice laws can affect your nurse practitioner job search. In a similar way, the method by which states issue nurse practitioner licensing also affects your candidacy for a position. Already licensed as an NP and looking to continue practicing in the same state? You’re in the clear. Stop reading now. Your license to practice won’t be an issue. Relocating or a recent grad? Read on.

Many states seek to make NP licensing an expeditious process. Recognizing the value of nurse practitioners, state boards of nursing often return a license to the new grad or relocating NP within about 6 weeks, often less. But, a few states stand out as particularly difficult to work with when it comes to obtaining official permission to practice. Without a state license you can’t work. So, nurse practitioners facing a licensing transition and looking to live in these states find it difficult to practice. Where do NP licensing woes affect a job search the most?

1. Texas

Shudder. Texas is notorious for outlaws, drug-trade plagued border towns and, well, NP licensing nightmares. Here’s why. The Texas board of nursing is sooooo slow in returning freshly minted licenses to nurse practitioner applicants that many employers won’t even consider hiring an NP without one. A 12-week plus waiting period for a state license to practice is enough to throw a practice lacking man power off kilter. So, clinics and hospitals opt to interview only license-carrying nurse practitioners. The fact that Texas has it’s own sort of DEA license as well is another story…

2. Colorado

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Winter is upon us. For most states, an impending cold season deters newcomers. But, for those considering Colorado as a practice destination, the first crisp breeze of the year screams ‘skiing!’. Or, maybe you’re drawn to the state for it’s recent legalization of marijuana (we won’t tell)? Whatever your reason for relocating to the Rocky Mountain state, you’d better do some research into state licensing issues. Colorado has recently loosened its laws surrounding nurse practitioner practice. But, NPs in the state still work under a restricted license until they have 1,000 hours of experience under their belt. A nurse practitioner unable to prescribe pain meds to a patient with a broken femur is like hailing a taxi driver who can’t navigate. So, to the chagrin of NP new grad snow bunnies and ski bums, hospitals and clinics prefer NPs already experienced and established in the state. Plan on a lengthy job search and possibly a lengthy commute if you’re less experienced and practicing in Colorado. 

3. Indiana (and other states with ‘Supervision First’ laws)

As nurse practitioners, we’ve all heard of ‘supervising’ or ‘collaborating’ physicians. In the majority of states, NPs must obtain some sort of official arrangement in regards to physician oversight in order to practice consistently with state guidelines. Some states take this a step further and won’t award a license to practice and/or prescribing privileges until the nurse practitioner has submitted this documentation. So, NPs in these state must first land a job then apply for a state license or prescriptive privileges. A nurse practitioner resume submitted with the word ‘licensed’ rather than the words ‘license pending’ makes for a much stronger employment application. Sorry, Hoosiers. 

4. Alabama (and other sates with terrible, horrible NP job markets)

In job markets where landing a nurse practitioner position is tough, whether as a result of competition or unfavorable scope of practice regulations, licensing plays into a job search. Having licensure and certification completed and officially in order means you, the NP, can start work more quickly. There are fewer logistics associated with hiring a licensed and certified nurse practitioner than one with formalities pending. Does this mean you shouldn’t start looking for a job opportunity until these things are in order? No. But, be aware that your application status stands to improve once they are. Complete these steps as quickly as possible to facilitate a more effective employment search.

It’s easy to feel stuck if you’re a nurse practitioner relocating to a state where licensing is of utmost importance in a job search. No matter your passion for advocacy, state laws and boards of nursing are unlikely to change before you’re ready to submit employment applications. An awareness of these hurdles is the first step to overcoming them. Stay on top of your state license app and plan ahead mentally and financially for a more lengthy job search in areas where licensing practices work to your disadvantage.


Could you use help with your nurse practitioner job search logistics? Connect with a ThriveAP Career Advisor! ThriveAP Career Advisors are pros at conducting a job search on your behalf, keeping state licensing logistics in mind. 


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