9 Hidden Costs of Nurse Practitioner School Graduation

If you are graduating from your nurse practitioner program this summer, congratulations! You made it! Launching your NP career is an exciting time, but also one filled with anxiety-provoking logistics. Where will you work? How much will you be paid? How do you balance interviewing at multiple facilities? While most nurse practitioners are familiar with the steps of the licensing and job search process, many neglect to consider how much the ordeal will cost. And, yes, it is pricey.

So, nurse practitioner new grads, before you book a two week backpacking trip to Europe, or a sunny island getaway to celebrate your accomplishment, get your post-graduation budget in order. Don’t forget to include the following unanticipated costs of nurse practitioner program graduation. 

1. Certification Exam Prep and Fee

You’ve already dished out thousands of dollars for your nurse practitioner education. However, one last ditch nurse practitioner certification exam prep effort may be in order as you approach graduation. Certification study books, and/or attending a certification review course can be quite costly. Certification review books, for example, may cost $50 each. A review course will set you back anywhere from $300 to $600, plus the cost of travel.

Study materials aren’t the only expenses associated with the nurse practitioner certification exam. Signing up to take the test itself costs anywhere from $240 to $395, depending on your certifying body and membership status. Don’t forget to budget for these expenses as you near the end of your NP program. 

Budget friendly tip: Purchased used review books and sell your back online once you pass your boards with flying colors.

2. Licensure, Both RN and NP

Once you pass the national nurse practitioner certification exam, you will need to apply for APRN licensure in the state where you plan to practice. If your RN license is nearing expiration, or you plan to practice in a state different from that in which you are licensed, you may need to reapply or renew your RN license as well. Each license will cost you anywhere from $100 to about $250 depending on the state in which you are licensed.

Budget friendly tip: Don’t delay applying for a license to practice in hopes that an employer will cover the cost. This could set your employment start date back weeks. Putting your paycheck on hold is far more costly than the expense of obtaining your license. Rather, save your receipts. Some employers will reimburse for cost of licensure even if you applied pre-employment.

3. DEA Number

With a price tag of $731, obtaining a DEA number is one of the most costly pieces of kicking off your nurse practitioner career. You will need to obtain a DEA number to prescribe controlled medications, so ultimately this is a necessary expense in most practice settings.

Budget friendly tip: Ask your employer if you can cover the cost of obtaining your DEA number with the dollars set aside for continuing education in your employment contract.

4. Job Interview Costs

Interviewing for a nurse practitioner job may cost you almost nothing, or it could rack up to thousands of dollars. On the most basic level, you will need to purchase professional clothing to wear for your interview. Dressing to impress is essential for landing your first NP position. I recommend wearing a suit. If you are applying for positions in another state, you must budget for travel related job interview expenses like airfare and lodging.  

Budget friendly tip: If you are interviewing for a job outside of driving distance, ask your interviewer if the company covers the cost of interview-related travel. This is a perfectly legitimate question if asked in a professional manner. Be aware, however, you may need to book and pay for travel on your own then receive reimbursement following the interview.

5. Employment Contract Review

Asking an attorney to look over your employment agreement before you sign on the dotted line is perfectly optional. Doing so, however, can save you from making commitments that will cost you down the road. Employment agreement review will cost you a few hundred dollars or more, an expense well worth it considering what is at stake.

Budget friendly tip: Choose an attorney who charges a flat rate for employment contract review. This way you don’t feel nickled and dimed each time you have a question about your agreement.

6. Relocation Expenses

Moving? If you are hitting the road and accepting an NP position requiring you to relocate, carefully research relocation expenses. Moving can be very costly, potentially totaling thousands of dollars. Many employers will reimburse nurse practitioners for relocation expenses. However, the NP must be able to carry these costs until refunded.

Budget friendly tip: Calculate the cost of accepting a position requiring relocation prior to accepting the opportunity. There’s nothing worse than signing an employment agreement only to have to rescind your commitment for lack of resources.

7. Temporary Health Coverage

Employment transitions are often accompanied by changes in health insurance status. When will benefits from your current employer or student health plan end? When do benefits from your new employer kick in? If your transition leaves you without coverage, you may need to purchase short-term health insurance in case of unplanned circumstances.

Budget friendly tip: Shop your health insurance plan. Oftentimes, options offered by your employer may not be the most cost effective choice.

8. Credentialing Time

Once you finally land a nurse practitioner position, a credentialing process will be required by your employer. This process may take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months. Will you be without a paycheck as you wait to start your nurse practitioner job? If so, how will you cover the cost of living expenses during this period. Planning for a gap between paychecks will keep you from budgeting blunders as you wait for the credentialing process to wrap up.

Budget friendly tip: Help quarterback the credentialing process yourself. Follow up with the individual responsible for credentialing frequently so be sure the process keeps moving. Respond to any requests in a timely manner. The sooner you are credentialed, the more quickly your first paycheck will be deposited into your checking account.

9. Professional Dress Code

As a nurse practitioner, in many settings, you will be expected to wear professional dress rather than scrubs. Purchasing a few new items for your wardrobe may be in order. Sure, blowing your clothing budget on a new swimsuit for summer may seem more appealing, but ensuring you have duds to don your first week of work is a must.

Budget friendly tip: Observe the work culture where you will be employed before making your purchases. This way, you won’t invest in work wear that is too casual or too formal. Go for neutrals as you can get away with wearing these items more often.

Nurse practitioners expediting the job search, licensure, and certification process save compared to their colleagues as they begin receiving a salary more quickly. This process, no matter how efficient, is still expensive, potentially costing the NP a few thousand dollars or more. If nurse practitioner graduation is upon you, sit down and make a budget to make your employment transition as seamless as possible. Take these nine hidden costs of NP graduation into account.


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