Nurse Practitioner Residencies: Weighing the Pros and Cons

A common frustration among new grad nurse practitioners is that the transition from an NP program to practice is a difficult one. In many clinical settings, like primary care, nurse practitioners are expected to perform much of the same role as a physician but with less time in school. This means on the job learning is initially required. And, the learning curve is steep.

Some new graduate nurse practitioners are lucky enough to land positions where they are supported in their inexperience. They have coworkers who are understanding and willing to teach. They may even be given a reduced patient load as they start out their career. Other practices expect new NPs to keep up with more experienced providers and are less understanding of the continued need for training in the first months and years of practice.

In an effort to soften the leap from school to NP practice, some organizations have created nurse practitioner residency programs. These programs pay nurse practitioners a stipend to work while very well supported in the clinic or hospital setting, usually for a period of one year. Residencies typically include didactic training in addition to the time spent in direct patient care. Delaying traditional employment for a year to complete a residency cones with a few advantages and disadvantages. Here are the pros and cons of nurse practitioner residencies.

Pro: Smoother transition to practice

Residencies offer nurse practitioners a supported environment in which to continue their learning. Questions on the job are expected as is a slower pace of practice to accommodate learning. This prepares NPs to become more confident and efficient when they do accept a traditional practice opportunity helping them avoid the frustration many nurse practitioners feel when they enter practice.

Con: Lost income opportunity

While nurse practitioners are paid during their time in residency, the salary may be significantly less than what one would expect to earn in a traditional position. Nurse practitioners making an earlier entry into traditional practice can expect to earn tens of thousands of dollars more in the first year of practice than their counterparts completing a residency. In some cases, completing a residency can also affect eligibility for student loan repayment opportunities. The good news? Salaries for NP residents have seemed to increase in recent years, closing the salary gap between residents and standard advanced practice provider salaries.

Pro: Employment connections and considerations

Not only are residency-prepared nurse practitioners better prepared clinically for their first position, they also make valuable professional connections in the community where they complete their program. This helps when it comes time to search for a permanent job. The experience a residency provides also allows nurse practitioners to apply to positions requiring NP experience opening up the job market. Make sure to note if the residency to which you are applying carries with it a requirement to work for the sponsoring organization for a period of time once the residency is complete.

Con: Limited residency opportunities

Unfortunately, there are very few nurse practitioner residencies available throughout the country. This means NPs may need to relocate to complete a residency program. Additionally, opportunities for residencies in some specialties are very limited or do not exist at all. Nurse practitioners with specific location need or practice interests may not be able to find an opportunity that fits their requirements.

Have you competed a nurse practitioner residency? How was your experience?


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