Getting Your Foot in the Door as a Newly Graduated Advanced Practitioner

Congratulations! You are nearing the completion of a long, grueling training period to earn your degree as a Physician Assistant or Nurse Practitioner! The end is in sight and you’re beginning to think about life after school and that perfect practice environment.

US News and World Report 2019 ranked Physician Assistant (PA) #1 and Nurse Practitioner (NP) #5 for best health care jobs and understandably, NPs and PAs are in high demand as the physician shortage peaks. As a result, salaries for advanced practitioners are skyrocketing. You’ve never thought twice about the challenges that come with getting a great high-paying job after graduation. Until…

You begin to pursue the job boards and notice repeating keywords. “Experience required.”  “New grads not considered.”  “5+ years’ experience preferred.”  Worry sets in as you think of the student debt you’ve accumulated. 

As new PA and NP, training programs pop up quickly to meet demand and in some regions the candidate pool is saturated with new grads. Not to fear. The recruiting team at Baystate Health has advice to overcome these challenges and get you on the road to your perfect career.

The challenge for hospital divisions and practices often lies in not having the ability to provide the necessary orientation that a new graduate requires to ramp up into an independent, productive provider. Recruiting is often happening to replace a departing provider, leaving a team short-staffed and stressed. While the stress of taking on a new grad is real for a practice, the candidate pool for experienced NPs and PAs can be limited. For many positions, the recruitment process can be expensive and long. Your tenacity, humility, confidence and flexibility will get your foot in the door if a practice cannot find the experienced provider of their dreams.

Here are some tried-and-true tips for becoming an associate provider candidate that will capture recruitment's attention.

  • Research your training options carefully. Do you want the flexibility of practice allowed by obtaining your PA degree? Are you fully committed to an inpatient setting and the Acute Care General Nurse Practitioner (ACGNP) track? Do you want to focus on primary care and outpatient roles which are well suited to an Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) and PA degrees? Become familiar with job boards early to get a sense of employer requirements for specific positions and the amount of jobs available for that degree. 
  • Treat every rotation as a job interview. Passion, commitment to learning and demonstrated growth go a long way with preceptors. You may find yourself with a job offer before you even have to apply. Conversely, calling out sick or lacking a team approach may earn you a negative reputation in a small world.
  • Identify your clinical interests early in your training and choose your elective rotations based on that interest. This extra exposure to that specialty shows employers your true interest. Consider doing a residency in that field if it is available.
  • Be flexible. You may have your heart set on an orthopedic (ortho) career, but find you can’t land an interview. You may need to broaden your vision of acceptable first jobs. For example, starting your career in primary care may give you an excellent base of experience to move into an ortho position within just 2 short years. While too many job changes can be a red flag to employers, it is very common for first jobs to only last 2-3 years.
  • Apply even if the ad says experience is required. Recruiters are always looking for experienced providers, but they are not always easy to find. A good recruiter and strong clinical leadership will help the practice/division strategize a way to use a new grad in lieu of not being able to hire a candidate with experience.
  • Craft a strong cover letter. While your CV is a fact-based timeline of your training and career, your cover letter is your chance to show your passion for the job to which you are applying. The cover letter should be very specific, so you’ll need a separate cover letter for each job you apply for. 
  • Perfect the art of being simultaneously humble and confident. You may have 10 years of Registered Nurse (RN) experience, which will definitely help you in your new role, however, your transition into the NP role will require you to understand your learning opportunities for your new scope of practice. During interviews, convey confidence in your ability to quickly ramp up with the assistance of mentorship. Express willingness to use the time it will take to get licensed and credentialed to further educate yourself in that specialty. Display sincere desire to learn quickly and become a strong team member. 
  • Some jobs truly do require experience. You may not land that dream job as an Operating Room (OR) first assist as a new grad, but your application can make an impression that leads that employer to call you in the future. Treat every encounter with providers as a networking opportunity. The reputation you hone will lay the path for your future.

Rest assured, you’ve chosen an outstanding career and great adventures in medicine await you.  With patience, persistence and a positive attitude, you’ll be on your way before you know it.

To connect with a recruiter at Baystate Health, please click below!

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Author:Melissa Hale