NP Career Blog

Nurse Practitioner Job News & Advice

Returning to the Workforce

Dear Career Coach: I am a NP seeking to return to the workforce after a 10 year employment gap. I have experience as an adult nurse practitioner Occupational Health, Cardio-thoracic, Primary Care, and Student Health. I recently completed 150 CEU’s including 75 in pharmacy and passed the certification test for Adult NP in preparation for my NP job search.
Should I include this information in my resume and cover letter? How do I handle the lapse in my professional career? I have 3 kids and we moved several times. I was active with volunteer activities and held several leadership positions. Do employers really want to see this information in my resume?

Dear Reader: This information needs to be included in both your resume and your cover letter. I suggest you start your resume off with a “Summary of Qualifications” section, this will allow you to highlight your qualifications and future plans.

EXAMPLE:
“A nurse practitioner with a wide variety of experience with an emphasis in (list your specialties) Recently completed a total of 150 CEU’s including 75 in pharmacology and have used this knowledge to successfully pass the certification test for Adult Nurse Practitioner. Passionate to resume hands on patient care. Possess the energy and flexibility of a new graduate plus a wealth of past knowledge which will benefit both my patients and my future employer.”

Next on your resume list your experience starting first with your recent CEU’s that are pertinent to the job you are seeking. Highlight your proficiencies for each past job and communicate that you are still comfortable with those skills.

You also MUST write a cover letter. You can use your cover letter to discuss your passion for the position, highlight your proficiencies and emphasize the knowledge you recently acquired in your CEU courses. It’s also a good idea to mention your desire for a long-term employer. In the last paragraph, before your closing, you can then disclose and explain your employment gap.

Remember always to edit and tailor your resume and cover letter to match each and every position you apply for!

Good luck!

Can’t we all just get along?

They say nursing “eats it’s own”. I had this recurring fantasy that when I became an NP that something would change, unfortunately this hasn’t been the case for me or many other Advanced Practice Nurses.

I have been receiving several letters lately from APRN’s all over the country expressing their frustration with their RN peers. They recount stories of the RN’s behaving like “tyrants” towards them. They accuse them of nitpicking, refusing to help and generally making the NP’s work life miserable. In some cases they tell me, RN’s are even assigned to supervise the NP’s. (This is a situation that seems wildly inappropriate at best, and downright dangerous at it’s worst.) The nurse practitioners attribute the RN’s behavior to “professional jealousy”.

Now I know there are 2 sides to every story and I am sure the nurses have their tale to tell as well. But unfortunately I too have observed and experienced some of this behavior firsthand. A few years ago I was working an assignment in which the RN’s refused to do vitals on my patients when they roomed them. Why? “Because you are a nurse” was the response. I shrugged it off because I personally liked these nurses but I must admit it really grated on me professionally.

This is a sad and disappointing side to our profession. When I teach new nursing students it’s one of the first things they ask me about in class. What does this say about us? In my years working as a recruiter I can tell you that it’s not money that leads many NP”s to search for a new job. Most Nurse Practitioners quit because they are unhappy and frustrated with their current work environment.

I’m throwing this one out to you for discussion. Do you have a story like this to tell? What have you done to resolve the problem? If you are a Physician Assistant does this happen to you as well or is this strictly a “nursing” problem? Leave me a comment.

To Cell or Not to Cell

I was shopping today and as I was turned the corner into the soap aisle a young man was just ending a cell phone call. I heard him say a few stern words into his cell phone, then he hung up and exclaimed to a woman whom I presumed to be his wife “Can you believe it? They actually called me about a job I applied for while I am at Target!” Considering the job market these days this should have made his day, but no, he was quite indignant that they had interrupted his grocery shopping. Yeah, imagine that. He had given them his cell phone number and they actually had the nerve to call him, unbelievable.
I have long cautioned job hunters to think long and hard before putting their cell phone numbers on their applications or resumes because, well, employers tend to call them.
The great thing about cell phones is that they are portable, and the not-so-great thing about cell phones is that they are portable. If you listed you cell number as your contact number when you applied for an NP job odds are sooner or later a potential employer is going to call you at an inconvenient time (like when you are shopping at Target).
If your cell phone is your only phone then please think before you answer. If you are busy, in loud or bad reception area it’s better if you let the call go to voicemail and return it when you are free to talk. You get one chance to make a good impression and you don’t want to be deciding “paper or plastic” while taking a call from a potential employer.
Trust me, they won’t call back.

Lots of Locums

Now that my first column on Locum Tenens assignments has gone “live” I have been recieving a ton of emails and calls. First, let me say I am pleased so many NP’s and PA’s are reading what I write! It’s nice to know you are out there. It’s also nice to see so many clinicians warming up to doing temporary jobs. So far I have heard from folks at both ends of the career spectrum, some are NP’s who are just beginning their career while others are looking towards retirement and just looking for something different (but lucrative). All have concerns and questions.

Temp NP or PA jobs definitely take you out of your comfort zone, some see this as exciting and challenging while others might view it as nothing but pure stress. No matter which way you lean I advise you to be sure to get some critical information before you agree to that temporary job assignment.

Be sure you find out the reason that the employer is seeking a locum tenens clinician. Is this a new venture and they prefer to see if things are going to work out before taking on a permanent employee? In our current ecomony this is very reasonable and actually protects you as much as it protects them. If things don’t work out for any reason no one will question a short employment entry on your NP resume if the position was a temp assignment. And if it does work out you could have your foot in the door to be hired permanently.

If the reason they are seeking a locum tenens clinicians is due to a a vacancy it is a good idea for you to you find out why the previous provider left. It could be something as simple as a medical leave or something much more serious such as a toxic work environment. Good to know before you commit.

Next week I will talk about ways to ensure that you have adequate physician back-up while you are out on assignment. Stay tuned…

2011 Market “Forecast”

January is the traditional time each year when we look back at the past year and then try to predict what will be the trends for the coming year. Well, this year is no different!
Last month I was interviewed by Jen Ford at ADVANCE for NP/PA’s regarding my thoughts on what’s in store for NP’s and PA’s in 2011. She wrote a great article which covers several topics that are of interest to all Nurse Practitioners and Physician Assistants regardless of whether or not they are job hunting. We discussed the job market, temporary positions, salaries as well as upcoming trends mixed in with a few thoughts for this years new grads.
I highly recommend that you check out the article “A Changing Landscape – The Job Outlook for NP’s and PA’s. You won’t be sorry 🙂

New year’s resolution

Hello 2011!!

My new year’s resolution is to do more blogging! I have alot of great plans of where to take this blog and website so I’m going to be doing more talking about the NP/PA market, salaries and of course job searching. And due to popular demand I will be adding some additional “new grad” resources.

What’s on my mind today? I just read an article about how NP pay and jobs are now outpacing that of the family practice physician. The author wrote in the article about the current market for NP jobs as if all we would need to do is walk out our front door and there will be clinics lined up waving fistfulls of money at us to work for them. They went on to say that demand for NP’s is so great that the market has been able to “absorb a tidal wave of new NP’s”. They cite the physician shortgage as the cause.

Yes it’s true the market does seem to be opening up but we are still far from being fully employed. What IS beginning to happen is that healthcare organizations are reviewing their budgets for the upcoming year and have decided that hiring advanced practice clinicians does make economic sense. (hmm, where have I heard that before…?)

Things are looking up folks. Of course you still need a good resume so be sure to check out my resume tip sheet!