3 Questions to Ask Before Applying for your Dream APRN or PA Job
Author John Russell, DNP, APRN, FNP-BC, AGACNP-BC, CCRN, RFNA
Welcome to the big leagues! It’s time to step out of school and into the job hunt. As you probably have found out, it’s quite a weird world out there right now with the effects of a pandemic wreaking havoc on the job market. As positions become available and employers reel to find ways to balance budgets while providing quality care, you find yourself as the new-hire hoping to make safe entry into the murky waters of advanced practice clinician. Here are the three questions I think you should keep in your mind as you prepare your CV, documents, cover letter, and hopefully the interview to land the job of your dreams!
What Privileges Will I Need as a NP or PA in this Role?
Suffice it to say your schooling counts for some of your validation as you enter the hiring process. When you go through school, there are key criteria that must be met by the school to maintain accreditation. As you proceed to an interview, there is certainly some scrutiny to where you attended, but beyond the subtle nuances of your choice of institution, the biggest question lies in will they be able to adequately validate your key skills required to receive appropriate privileges for your job. Let’s take a closer look:
Example #1: The Family Practice APP
In this scenario, it is likely the PA or NP applicant would need to be versed in the privileges of medical diagnosis, chronic disease management, lifespan healthcare, history and physical taking, EKG interpretation, ordering diagnostic imaging and lab interpretation, to name a few common privileges. This likely would be signed off by the school when the credentialing committee reaches out for validation, since these are all elements typically covered in the main school curriculum. In addition to these “core privileges”, there may be some site-specific training that would benefit the applicant. Nail trephination, cryotherapy, digital blocks, wound closure, colposcopy, insertion and removal of intrauterine devices, casting and splinting, for example are not always covered and may require additional validation to receive these privileges.
Example #2: The Cardiovascular Surgery APP
In addition to the above core privileges, an applicant to a procedure-heavy role such as cardiac surgery may require a myriad of additional inpatient privileges. Some examples include arterial line insertion, central venous line insertion, intubation, pulmonary artery catheter and hemodynamic monitoring management, x-ray interpretation, assisting in the operating room, endoscopic vein harvesting, chest tube thoracostomy, thoracentesis, pleurodesis, epicardial pacemaker wire removal, management of vasoactive drugs, blood administration, and others as you can imagine, which are unique to this role.
What APRN and PA Training Do I Need?
As a newly graduated or soon-to-graduate APC, you are probably in for a rude surprise: your school MAY not validate all your skills that you think they should. It is not uncommon for students of certain schools to routinely be denied privileges since the school will provide only a blanket reply of “adequate” rather than “above average” or “excellent” (that is a 3 on a 1-5 scale rather than a 4-5). The problem is that many institutions will take pause if you are not a 4-5 on their paperwork scale and because of this, you hear things from people such as “that hospital won’t hire APC’s from school X”. It creates an unfortunate stigma and the person who suffers most is the student.
What is the solution? Keep a track of your training. And this is becoming a better process with clinical training software that more dynamically logs the training experiences of your clinical time and allows the student to break out their unique training experiences more eloquently, but realize in the end, it is up to the student to present this information to their potential employers. Let me say that again for those in the back of the class. It is up to you to manage your own proof of training. And I can personally speak to this having been asked to prove over and over that I am current in my skills. Every two years, APCs get re-credentialed at my facility and I present my log of cases for the OR and my procedures to guarantee I am safe within my skill set. If I do not have enough reps of one skill, they might ask me to remediate the skill to make sure I’m safe since the risk is shared with the facility when they accept my training and provide me with privileges.
Where Can I Find Affordable and Personalized Training?
Should you find yourself unable to validate all the skillset required for a role, don’t worry; there are plenty of ways to work it out. First, it may mean the institution anticipates it will require you as a new grad to be on board with training unique to the role. Fellowship programs and some specialty programs exist for this precise reason. You can always check out conferences, and many will offer student discounts as well, but that is not your best bet. Don’t get me wrong, conferences are great. They cover a broad array of content and many times, are fantastic networking opportunities as well as opportunities to meet with vendors and see what other people are doing in the market. Unfortunately, they seldom give you all the skills and training you need, leaving you to parcel out all the training for unique privileges and in so doing, spend considerable sums of money.
If you are looking for a standalone solution to get trained in specific privileges and want to see the benefits of low-cost, high-quality training built custom to your “wish list” of privileges, even before the application for your ideal job, look for specific resources designed for privileging solutions such as Skills On Point, LLC. If you’ve never heard of concierge education, this is the place that applied it to NP and PA education.
In addition to public courses in content like acute care and primary care privileges designed to optimize the hands-on time with bang-for-buck return on your time invested, they also offer private courses that can dovetail with the public courses to make your trip truly customized for job-specific privileges such as endoscopic vein harvesting, laparoscopics, CV surgery simulation, airway management, ultrasound guided central line and art lines, and plenty others. To match, they offer a large collection of online courses with continuing education accreditation, designed for new APCs to get the hard concepts nailed down into practice with topics such as Antibiotics, Heart Failure, Anticoagulation, Diabetes, Hypertension, Labs and ABG Interpretation, and home-based procedural training. Check those out HERE. You might have heard of them also as they are used in many PA and NP programs for their curriculums.
Bottom Line: If you want to prepare for your dream job, take the opportunity to advance your skills with professional-grade training. It shows your potential employer you are invested in the role and your competition becomes far less “competitive” when you step out of the pack with skills to match the job.
Please upload your resume for a free resume review by Melnic, experts in APRN and PA job search!
John Russell, DNP, APRN, FNP-BC, AGACNP-BC, CCRN, RFNA
Owner and Founder of Skills On Point, LLC
Dr Russell works as a nurse practitioner and first assistant in cardiothoracic surgery in Northern IL. He teaches for Rosalind Franklin University for their CRNA program, Northern Illinois University, and Olivet Nazarene University for their FNP programs, and works as a program director and instructor for the National Institute of First Assisting, Inc. Skills On Point was founded to help provide procedural and skills training for advanced practice clinicians with high-quality simulation equipment, evidence-based content, and expert instructors to bring a truly unique and refreshing experience to continuing education for all healthcare professionals. Dr Russell also serves as the President of Mission Skills Inc, a 501c3 public charity to help train and fund participants of medical service trips.