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Importance of NP Program Reputation, Name Recognition

Posted

Specializes in NICU, PICU.

I'm considering applying to NP programs this fall, and I'm hoping to get some feedback.

As experienced NPs, did you find that your school's name/reputation was helpful in getting hired as a new grad? I'm sure that this topic has come up many times on AllNurses, but I've searched through a few forums and couldn't find it. I know that as an RN, school "name brands" are pretty useless. However, over the last several years, I do recall a few NPs on AN saying that attending a reputable NP school was beneficial in the hiring process; perhaps it's because those specific NPs were hired by MDs (vs. RNs, who are hired by other RNs), and "name branding" is a much bigger deal in medicine than it is in nursing.

I'm specifically interested in U-Penn's PNP program for a number of reasons: it's the only PNP I've found with a 'major'/concentration in my specialty of interest, it has rotations at one of the best children's hospitals in the world, it conducts classes in-person (though this may change post-COVID), and it can be completed in one year full-time. It also happens to be an expensive private school that is very well-ranked in both nursing and medicine (Top 3 in nursing, pediatric advanced practice nursing, and medicine). According to the website, the entire MSN can be completed for $55,000, although I'm not totally convinced.

Upon graduation, there's a very competitive new grad PNP fellowship (entirely unaffiliated with Penn) that I'd love to take part in. Unfortunately, given my nursing background (primarily in NICU, not PICU), I wouldn't be the strongest applicant. I'm hoping that attending a well-ranked, reputable NP program with a unique, pertinent concentration would make me a stronger applicant for the fellowship.

Any and all feedback is greatly appreciated!

FullGlass, BSN, MSN, NP

Specializes in Adult and Geriatric Primary Care. Has 3 years experience.

Yes, "brand name" matters more for NP school for exactly the reason you stated: MDs generally hire NPs and they care very much about school reputation. I went to Hopkins, and as a new grad, at almost every interview, the MD stated he/she wanted to meet me because I went to Hopkins. I got 9 job offers as a new grad NP.

There are some excellent scholarships available for NP school, such as the Nurse Corps scholarship, which is a full-ride scholarship. Many states have equivalent programs. You are more likely to receive such a scholarship if you go to a top-ranked school, as they are competitive. Same for loan repayment programs.

In addition, the top-ranked private schools generally have huge endowments and tend to be pretty generous with financial aid. They have special scholarships and grants for students.

I suggest you apply to some top schools and see what kind of financial aid you get if accepted.

Good luck.

It didn't matter for my first job I was well connected at the hospital from years of employment and had a good relationship with the physicians. But I do have a degree from a reputable school and I was asked about that in future interviews and felt it played an important role in the job offers I received. The doctors I work with though have no clue about the state of NP education and unless it's a school with a reputable medical school they likely wouldn't know.

If I'm ever part of a hiring team for NP's the school they attended would be fairly important to me.

verene, MSN

Specializes in mental health / psychiatic nursing.

It doesn't need to be Ivy League but yes, going to a school which has at least regional name brand recognition helps. I went to a public B&M school - it's nursing program is well known regionally, and medical school is nationally recognized. I have my current job in-part because of the school I went to, they don't often hire new grads (particularly those who haven't previously worked for them as RNs), but know the reputation of the school (and an alumna who is well-respected in the organization referred me). This university is well-known by many of my psychiatrist colleagues and while it is a very welcoming setting/culture for NPs in general- going to a school my MD/DO colleagues know/recognize/respect has definitely NOT hurt.

It is NOT the cheapest program, nor easiest to get into, but it does find solid placements for clinicals for ALL students (which is important for learning AND networking), and has a reputation of churning out practice-ready new grads - they don't have a HUGE endowment, but financial aid is available, and there are LOTS of loan repayment opportunities they connect students with. I imagine UPENN would be similar - high quality education, high support for students, even if cost is more expensive.

umbdude, MSN, NP

Specializes in Psych/Mental Health. Has 4 years experience.

I think a reputable program will at least help get your foot in the door for interviews especially as a a new grad and for residencies/fellowships (or if your specialty is competitive). Is there a huge difference between an ivy-league (or any top 10 nursing school) and any reputable program? Probably not. Once you have the experience it will matter even less.

That said, because it is going to be your NP degree and your education experience, what matters most is how you feel about it. If you love Penn's curriculum, and everything else makes sense for you, then go for it.

I agree that financial aid is more generous at reputable private programs. My program has a pretty large endowment and I got some random scholarships without even applying (though my GPA is high).

ThePrincessBride, BSN

Specializes in Med-Surg, NICU. Has 6 years experience.

I think it matters some, but I know plenty of people who have gone to Chamberlain who have gone on to get good jobs.

To answer your other question, I would definitely get some PICU experience. Acute care PNPs in my area require inpatient pediatric experience, and neonatal doesn't count. Have you considered getting your NNP instead?

aok7, NP

Has 12 years experience.

I think reputation of school is gradually mattering more. It used to be that "NP" conferred a certain understanding much like "MD," knowing that it was quite competitive and the best and the brightest became NPs.

AutoRotate, MSN, RN

Specializes in ED. Has 9 years experience.

It seems to me that most of the NP students I meet are going to "Walden" or "South University" which I've never heard of before now.  Are these the new University of Phoenix or Southern New Hampshire schools?

BSN2DNPFNP

Has 9 years experience.

I do feel that the reputation of the school is very important.  I attend a school that is in another state from which I live and was concerned that if a future employer did not know the school I attend, they would not realize how great of a program they provide.  I specifically chose a well know school and I feel it will pay off.  I have recently been discussing with providers at my current employment about graduating NP school.  When I tell them the school I am graduating from there is always a positive response.  Comments such as "Oh, that's a great school!"  This information goes on your resume and will be brought up in an interview, it can give you a leg up.   

THAT Nurse., MSN, RN, APRN

Specializes in Family Practice/Primary Care. Has 14 years experience.

On 11/11/2020 at 4:54 PM, AutoRotate said:

It seems to me that most of the NP students I meet are going to "Walden" or "South University" which I've never heard of before now.  Are these the new University of Phoenix or Southern New Hampshire schools?

In my experience going to either a well known/reputable school or even going to a standard state school (think University of Neverheardofitbefore) are viewed significantly more positively than the online programs. I once precepted a South University student, there won't be a second. 

So, yes. South, Walden, Oceana university or any other online only NP Program is a trash degree in my, and most of my local colleagues, eyes.

Edited by THAT Nurse.
Typos, grammar and such.

JBMmom, MSN

Specializes in Long term care; med-surg; critical care. Has 9 years experience.

I have not been thrilled with the quality of my program, although prior to enrolling I found it listed in US News and World Report as a reputable NP Program. It is affiliated with a brick and mortar campus although my coursework was online. I will graduate in May and four of my preceptors have already encouraged me to apply for positions and told me they would recommend me or strongly consider hiring me directly. So in my case, the networking I've been able to do while in school has been more important than my program. I don't think any of my preceptors could even tell you the name of my school. 

I called the recruiter for MD, PAs, and NPs at my local private hospital and asked what his opinion was regarding IVY league Universities compared to regular universities. He words were, “what’s wrong with our local universities?” Any reputable regional university should be fine. 

FullGlass, BSN, MSN, NP

Specializes in Adult and Geriatric Primary Care. Has 3 years experience.

13 hours ago, Thanksforthedonuts said:

I called the recruiter for MD, PAs, and NPs at my local private hospital and asked what his opinion was regarding IVY league Universities compared to regular universities. He words were, “what’s wrong with our local universities?” Any reputable regional university should be fine. 

Recruiters don't make hiring decisions.  Yes, any reputable public college or university is fine.  However, anyone who can go to a top school, assuming the financial aid is good, would be a fool not to.

I do not understand this constant belittling of good schools by RNs and NPs.  Doctors strive to go to the best med school they can.  If we want to be taken seriously, then we need to strive for excellence in education.

And it doesn't matter what recruiters think - most of them are morons.  What matters is what hiring managers think, and for NPs, most of the hiring managers are going to be MDs.  

 

nursetim, NP

Specializes in ER, HH, CTICU, corrections, cardiology, hospice. Has 19 years experience.

I went to Duke, I’ve been unemployed for 2 years. I don’t think my affiliation has helped me.

juan de la cruz, MSN, RN, NP

Specializes in APRN, Adult Critical Care, General Cardiology. Has 27 years experience.

4 hours ago, nursetim said:

I went to Duke, I’ve been unemployed for 2 years. I don’t think my affiliation has helped me.

Did you stay in the Durham area? There are schools that have great reputations but are located in highly saturated markets.  I can think of Vanderbilt being another one.  If you seek employment outside of where the campus is located, you may have better luck.

Tegridy

Specializes in Former NP now Internal medicine PGY-1.

I would just go to a solid non profit that can SHOW excellent NP placement rates (placement rates in general are not good enough. Had to be for NP job post graduation) good board pass rates, finding of preceptors for you, and low default/drop our rates. 
 

 

if they do not happily provide all of this without asking twice or waiver in any way at all do not go there. Colleges and universities in general are shady in recruiting and are absolutely after loan dollars in your name. Make sure your future place of education is worth it. If you can’t get into anything besides for profit junk schools then you probably are not cut out to be a provider. I know this isn’t what people want to hear but tbh I don’t care since I’ve seen enough garbage midlevels from garbage schools mess up patients. 

 

I really have to doubt someone’s intellect if they will pay 50k to go to a school that doesn’t not secure preceptors.... that takes a special kind of stupid..... one that should never RX medication 

It is like spending 50k on a car with no transmission......

 

Edited by Tegridy

juan de la cruz, MSN, RN, NP

Specializes in APRN, Adult Critical Care, General Cardiology. Has 27 years experience.

OP, where did you decide to go? I noticed that based on your post, you are interested in PNP-AC.  To be honest, there aren't a lot of those programs anyway and Walden and similar types don't offer this track. You probably won't go wrong wherever you go but I would pick a school in an area that really utilizes the PNP-AC role.  There aren't many children's hospitals to begin with and I'm sure there aren't many that have PNP-AC's on staff.

nursetim, NP

Specializes in ER, HH, CTICU, corrections, cardiology, hospice. Has 19 years experience.

20 hours ago, juan de la cruz said:

Did you stay in the Durham area? There are schools that have great reputations but are located in highly saturated markets.  I can think of Vanderbilt being another one.  If you seek employment outside of where the campus is located, you may have better luck.

I have been all over the US. I’m currently in AZ.

I interviewed recently and the person interviewing me mentioned that his ex-fiancé went to Duke. At which point I closed my portfolio and started to get, I was kidding and we kept talking. Guess what, I didn’t get the job.