We believe that every Advanced Practice Provider deserves support, but it is especially important for new grads. Whether you’re a new Nurse Practitioner, a CNS, or a PA, you owe it to yourself to find a job after graduation that offers a strong orientation program.
A new role comes with inevitable challenges. But as an Advanced Practice Provider, you’re not just starting a new job. With your first NP job, you’re embarking on a new career and evolving into a leader and a decision maker. On last week’s blog, I shared how this transition can cause many NPs to feel less competent than they actually are.
The first 12-18 months in your new role will be stressful. That’s a given. But, an employer that offers support, time to develop your knowledge, and a deliberate orientation program will lead to greater job satisfaction and more confidence in your role.
What a Strong NP Orientation Program Looks Like
Depending on the environment, an orientation program for your first NP job should be between three and six months in length. During this time, you can expect to receive additional training and be assigned a preceptor.
You’ll also want a gradual patient load that is appropriate for the acuity of your patient population. In the ICU, new grads may start with one patient, and gradually add more patients one-by-one. In a clinic environment, it’s typical to start by seeing four patients a day, go to six, then eight, and finally move your way up to a full patient load.
In a supportive work environment, you will be given time to continue learning, to participate in knowledge-based training, and to become accustomed to your team before taking on an independent full-patient load.
The components of a good NP orientation program include:
- An NP or physician preceptor who will respectfully provide coaching and support.
- Opportunities to engage with your team and socialize with your peers to build professional relationships.
- A clear and comprehensive job description, the scope of practice, and consistent role expectations by all team members.
- Opportunities to meet key decision makers in the organizational structure and interact with other departments.
- Procedural and didactic training opportunities, job shadowing, and skill development.
How to Make Sure Your Prospective Employer Has a Good Orientation program for your First NP Job
The time to learn about your potential employer’s orientation program is during the interview. Ask about the orientation program, and what is provided for continuing education and professional development. You may find these interview questions to be a helpful start:
1. How long is the orientation period for new Nurse Practitioners coming in to this role?
2. Who will serve as my preceptor? How much time will I spend with this person, and what are the objectives for our work together?
3. How much time is provided for administrative on-boarding and professional development? This might include learning electronic health record systems, reviewing protocol, and participating in committees, research, or continuing education.
4. What opportunity will I have to shadow physicians and other NPs in the office or unit?
5. What patient load is expected for someone in my role for the first two months? Are there benchmarks for increasing patient load, and how will it be determined when these benchmarks are reached?
6. After the orientation program is complete, is there any ongoing support provided for the first 12-18 months in this role?
7. What are your expectations for someone in this role during the first 12-18 months of employment?
In addition to asking these questions, take time to actively observe the work environment if you can. What can you glean about the day-to-day interactions among members of the healthcare team? Are individuals respectful of one other? Do you sense that there is consistent and clear leadership to guide and standardize care within the department?
If given the opportunity, ask the providers you meet about the orientation program and see if their responses are consistent with what you learn during the interview. The better the information you receive, the more confident you can be that the job opportunity is the right fit for you.
Expert Advice on Finding an NP Job That Fits
With so many opportunities available to Nurse Practitioners today, finding the perfect job to ease your transition to practice can be a challenge. The same care you put into your schooling should go into finding your first job. That’s why we created our Guidebook to Starting a Nurse Practitioner Career.
This free resource will help you write a strong NP resume, master your job interview, know if a job is right for you, and more!
Melnic is a nationwide search firm focused on Advanced Practice placements for APRNs and PAs. Take advantage of our specialized job matching services and create your free Melnic Profile. The best part? There is never a fee for candidates to work with us!
Jill Gilliland is President of Melnic an APRN and PA national recruiting company. Jill is a speaker and publicist on areas such as job strategies, branding and marketing, pediatric critical care needs, and additional topics relevant to pediatric nursing and the recruitment business. She has over 12 years of experience in the recruiting industry coupled with a strong sales, healthcare, and technology background. Jill holds a BS degree in Business from the University of Southern California and an MBA from The University of Virginia, Darden Business School. Connect with Jill Gilliland on LinkedIn.