Unpaid internship to gain NP experience

Specialties NP


Specializes in APRN, ACNP-BC, CNOR, RNFA.

Hello everybody,

I'm looking for some advice. I am considering sending out resumes to bariatric surgeons in my area (Houston), because I would like to train to work in bariatrics. A little history about me, I started out as a scrub tech, went to nursing school and graduated, then went back to school and got my ACNP. All of this spanned 12 years, which I worked in the OR the whole time. Since graduating and passing boards, I haven't been able to find a job in any setting. I am interested in inpatient management (hospitalist) but no one is interested in hiring me, so I decided to pursue RNFA because I love being in the OR, and I'm hoping to get a position that would allow me to retain some role in the OR as a first assist. It is my hope that I'll have luck pursuing this route since it's where all my experience is.

Here is the where the unpaid internship comes in: I don't have any experience as an NP, so I was hoping to gain some experience via an unpaid 9 month internship. Everyone I have spoken to has said it can't be done, and if it can, that I shouldn't do it, because it will lower the value of a new grad NP. I don't want to lower anyone's value, I just want a job. I am willing to train for no pay, just like I did in school. My question, do you think it will help, or have I wasted my time and money on graduate school? Also, if someone did agree to train me without pay, would my personal be sufficient for practice?

Any advice is appreciated.



Specializes in ER, Critical Care, Paramedicine.

I took a job in a large teaching hospital as a new grad ACNP. Sure it was for less money, but the experience of rounding daily was invaluable. Have you looked into this? I don't know where you live, but if there is a city close-by, take a job there. I went to the ED first, then moved on to an intensivist position. Perhaps you could find something similiar?? Play into your years of critcial care experience as an OR nurse!! Good luck!!

Specializes in allergy and asthma, urgent care.

Have you looked into any NP residency programs? I know they are small in number and very competitive, but it may be a way to get paid and gain experience.

Specializes in APRN, ACNP-BC, CNOR, RNFA.


Yes, I have applied to any position I thought I had any possible chance of getting, even those I didn't want, and even those no one else wants. I live in Houston, where there are 5 nursing schools with NP programs, 2 PA schools, and 3 medical schools nearby, so the area is saturated with hospitals and healthcare providers. No shortage here, lol. We're all applying for the same jobs. The folks with ICU/CCU experience get all the good spots, and if they're good, they deserve them. I'm considering non-paid appointments so that I can get some experience and gain someone's interest.

BC, I've applied to low paying residencies as well, but my experience in the OR puts my resume at the end of the stack.

I have watched two more terms graduate since I did, and still no luck. I am on a first name basis with recruiters from big name hospitals here in the Texas Medical Center because I call so much, asking them...well, pleading with them to review their stacks of posts to see there is something that would be a good fit for me. I am not in a position to move because I'm a single parent of a special needs daughter. My job as an OR nurse pays very well, but I went to school to be more, and I'm so depressed that after the time and money spent, I'm still working as a staff nurse. I originally had no interest in RNFA, but I fear this may be my only way out of the OR as a staff nurse.

Thanks for the suggestions, guys.

Specializes in FNP, ONP.

Oh, that stuff about lowering values of NPs is cockapoo. I'd take a no pay opportunity to learn if you like the opportunity! Nothing wrong with that at all. Hell, I was invited to a post grad "residency", was told it was an extraordinary honor and paid a small fortune for the privilege, lol. Consider yourself lucky you aren't paying more. ;) If you find someone willing to let you apprentice, I think that's great, go for it. And I thought Rush had a post grad RNFA program? You might want to check. And Duke is just about to start an orthopedic NP program, and it might have a RNFA component but I don't know. I do know that the director of that program is a RNFA, and he might have some suggestions for you for networking, so you might consider getting in touch with him though the Duke website. Good luck.

Specializes in allergy and asthma, urgent care.

Another hint-get your resume re-done by a professional. I thought I had a good one, but I wasn't getting many bites when I sent it out. I had it professionally done, and then I started getting phone calls.


Which prof resume service do you recommend?

Specializes in allergy and asthma, urgent care.

I used an on-line service called resumeplanet. They were fast, relatively inexpensive, and did a great job on my resume.

Specializes in ..

The reality may be that you have to consider moving or at least commuting. If you can afford to take an unpaid internship, why is moving so out of the question? All the wishing, planning and scheming won't change the fact that you live in a saturated market. But, your overall plan is a good one. Why not quit with the recruiters and middle men and approach a practice and offer to intern with them for 90 days (9 months is way too long) and if it is a good fit, they can hire you or you can both simply move on. The hospitals themselves may never hire you, but you work with surgeons everyday....use your connections. Develop a plan on how a practice would benefit from an ACNP and sell yourself!!! The majority of jobs are not advertised. You are now an ACNP..SELL IT!!

Specializes in APRN, ACNP-BC, CNOR, RNFA.


I can't move because all of my help with my daughter is here in Houston. I did apply and interview for a part-time job near Dallas, that I was going to commute with 2 overnite stays per week. It was 3 hours away, 3 days a week, so it was perfect. The group decided on a local candidate because they had more flexibility. I am selling myself big time, practically begging, lol. I just need one chance from somebody. Thanks for the suggestions, guys!

Specializes in Clinic NP.

Good luck buddy! I understand the troubles get your foot in the door, I'm a family np just out with or experience.. I'm had my first interview just a day or so ago... I think really the problem with everyone having problems finding work are always the first job, getting experience is huge, and the one thing we don't have. :/ I'll be thinking about you! I understand!

Specializes in Level II Trauma Center ICU.

If you can afford to take an unpaid residency/internship, then why not? I would also take the time network with the surgeons you work with on a daily basis. Let them know you're an ACNP and looking for a position. Some physicians are not aware of the ACNP role and how ACNP training is ideal for working in the inpatient or surgical domains. I think you're really going to have to sell yourself and what you have to offer. Offer to train with them for a few months on a trial basis.

Also, I don't know how close you are to Methodist Hospital but they have a couple of NP fellowships, one in transplant and one in neuroscience, and they give preference to those who are willing to sign a 2 yr contract after the completion of the fellowship. Good luck!!

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