Can I still be an NP at this point?

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Can I still be an NP at this point?

Hi Nurse Beth, I am feeling so lost, so I am hoping you or someone can help. I have been licensed as an NP for about a year now, but due to personal situation have not worked as an NP yet.

My license is in adult primary and I specialized in and took a palliative track while in school. I never took the palliative exam however (it's a long story, but if context is needed as to why, I'm happy to explain). My dream is to continue doing work in the palliative field, but so far I am having so much trouble even getting an interview.

Is this because I am not palliative certified? Or because I have been without an NP job for a year?

I'm so far removed from school now I can't get an academic reference for a fellowship at this point. So what do I do? Should I get work as an RN in my desired field and hope they will take me as an NP eventually? Do I work as an RN in the meantime?

I guess my primary question is how long can someone hold an NP license without working as an NP and actually still get hired as an NP? And I don't mean license expiration-wise, I mean experience-wise. Like will people be willing to hire me as an NP even if it's been a while since I went to school?

I just really want the world to see what I have to offer, as I am so passionate about what I do. I just want the chance to show it. I don't want my masters degree to go to waste after all that work, but I'm just feeling really defeated. Thank you in advance for any and all advice

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Specializes in Tele, ICU, Staff Development.

Dear NP,

Don't despair! It can be challenging to land your first job immediately after graduation, even more so when it has been a year since graduation.

However, persistence is key when it comes to landing a job.

While having palliative certification can be beneficial, not having it is not the reason for difficulty securing interviews. Here are some things you can do to help:

  • Update Your Skills and Knowledge. Consider refreshing your skills and staying updated on the latest advancements in palliative care. Attend relevant conferences, workshops, or online courses to enhance your knowledge and demonstrate your commitment to ongoing learning.
  • Networking. Leverage your professional network. Networking is crucial when it comes to finding job opportunities. It is often said that "it's not what you know; it's who you know." Connecting with individuals already in this field is meaningful; joining professional organizations and attending relevant events to build relationships is essential. Doing so can provide valuable insights and opportunities that may not be available through traditional Job Search methods.
  • Volunteer Work or Part-Time Position. Consider seeking volunteer opportunities or part-time positions related to palliative care. This could help you gain recent experience, build connections, and demonstrate your commitment to the field. It may also lead to job opportunities.
  • Tailor Your Resume and Cover Letter. Tailor your resume and cover letter to highlight your passion for palliative care, your specialized track in school, and any relevant skills or experiences you have, even if they're not recent. Emphasize transferable skills and showcase how your unique background makes you an asset to the palliative care team.
  • Professional Development. Consider engaging in professional development activities specific to palliative care, such as workshops, seminars, or certifications. This can demonstrate your commitment to the field and make your resume stand out.
  • Mentorship. Look for mentorship opportunities within the palliative care community. A mentor can provide guidance and advice and potentially open doors to job opportunities.
  • Consider working as an RN in a palliative role or as an NP in another position. It's easier to secure a job while employed rather than unemployed.
  • Professional Associations. Joining professional associations related to palliative care may provide you with additional resources, job listings, and networking opportunities.

Maintaining a positive and persistent attitude during a job search is essential, especially when transitioning into a specialized field. Remember that your NP license is highly valuable, and your passion for palliative care is a strong motivator.

With perseverance and strategic efforts, you can find opportunities to showcase your skills and make a meaningful impact. Don't hesitate to seek support from mentors, colleagues, or career counselors who can provide personalized guidance based on your circumstances.

Best wishes,

Nurse Beth


I'm not a NP but have noticed in my area the job market seems over saturated.  This seems to be true for new NP grads even if they're applying straight out of school.  (I only say that so you don't wonder "what if" you'd applied right out of school).  I've also noticed it seems harder for adult FNP vs peds, psych, etc.  I personally think the NP schools have been admitting too many for the past few years.  

If it makes you feel any better, I've been in the job market (RN not NP) for several months and have had similar struggles.  I suspect many places are not actively hiring, despite having positions listed.  Guess they don't want to admit they are on a hiring freeze for fear their current staff will walk out.  So they tell the staff they're trying to hire but nobody is applying (“nobody wants to work these days!”) and then tell the people that are applying that the position has been filled.  But keep it posted?  I can't prove this but most jobs I've applied for are a perfect match for my resume and I never even get an interview.  Then the recruiters dodge my calls. 

Sorry for the rant but it really is not just you. And I don't think one year off after school is that concerning.  Five or ten, yes. One, no.  I really think it's just a bad market.  

  I'd be leery of taking RN jobs with the hope of getting "promoted" to NP.  First, it'd be easy for the scope of practice to blur and I have a feeling they'd start trying to get you to do NP tasks (on top of RN tasks, and for RN pay!).  Second, I firmly believe that as nurses at any level we are being paid for what we know not what tasks we do.  You have NP level training and knowledge, even if you're not acting in that role.  Don't sell that for NP pay!  

Wish I had more constructive advice.  All I know to tell you is keep applying to NP jobs,  even if not in your chosen specialty.  It's a lot easier to explain changing specialties than a prolonged gap in employment.  Hope the job market gets better soon.  Good luck and keep us posted!