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The real skinny on becoming an NP

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11 months and counting. I’m almost there. It’s only been three years since I started my post-diploma journey, but I’m ready for it to be complete. Graduation is just around the corner for me, then I can ruminate over a whole new set of stressors, including (but not limited to) passing my certification boards in order to practice as an Acute Care Nurse Practitioner.

I’ve finally discovered the employment conundrum Nurse Practitioners have that other advanced practice providers do not.

The short answer is, not all entry-level Nurse Practitioners are the same. Allow me to explain.

All Nurse Practitioners must possess an RN license. In order to apply to and enter an NP program, most institutions require a minimum of one to two years of clinical experience. (I’m making a very broad and general description here.)

Once an NP student completes his or her respective educational program, he or she can then sit for the certification exam. Upon passing that exam (and after many, many other additional steps and requirements), he or she can then begin practicing as an entry-level NP.

The entry-level NP has zero experience as an advance practitioner, but has any number of years of experience as a registered nurse. The point I’m making is that a 20-year RN veteran and a 2-year RN veteran will apply for the same entry-level NP position. Will the number of years of experience prior to the advanced degree matter?

Of course, there is a profound difference between the responsibilities of the bedside nurse versus the advanced practice provider. My argument is that those years as a bedside nurse have to matter! The level of decision-making, maturity and critical thinking navigation are not the same.

I just wonder if employers take this information into account when making their decisions to hire a candidate, and pay them a set salary?

While not all experience is the same, having none versus some versus a lot of years of clinical knowledge has to speak to one’s abilities.

This tangled web is not something the entry-level Physician Assistant or even the entry-level physician has to wrestle with. I just can’t decide if it weakens or strengthens the solidarity of my soon-to-be new position?

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