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What You Should Be Doing Now if You’re Applying to a Nurse Practitioner Program in 2022

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As an NP admissions mentor, if I could give one piece of advice to applicants, it would be this: Start early! (Really, I’m begging you.) Read on to learn more...

Specializes in NP Admissions and Interview mentoring. Has 7 years experience.

What steps should I take when applying to a nurse practitioner program?

What You Should Be Doing Now if You’re Applying to a Nurse Practitioner Program in 2022

I always help clients create the best possible application given their circumstances, but it still bums me out when we are working to overcome an obstacle that could have been so easily fixed just a few months earlier. The earliest applications are usually due in late September to early October, and then the various deadlines stretch all the way until June of the following year. Here’s what I think you should be doing right now to set yourself up for success this year:

Do an Assessment of Yourself as an Applicant

Self-awareness is key. Taking the time to evaluate your application’s strengths and weaknesses before the admissions committee does gives you the opportunity to make some small but critical changes. Don’t have any primary care experience? Sign up for some volunteer experiences. Straight A’s except for that one Anatomy course that you bombed? Decide if you’re going to take another Anatomy course or just write an addendum explaining. (Yes, you can do that.) Applying to a midwifery program but haven’t worked L&D? Attend a doula training. There’s really so much you can do to evaluate your application and demonstrate to the admissions committee that you understand and are committed to your planned NP specialty. Take the time to step back and look at things now, and you’ll set yourself up for the best possible application this Fall. 

Start Thinking About “Your Story” (Dig Deep)

A good personal statement tells someone about your experiences. A great personal statement tells someone who you are. To do that, you’ll want to ask yourself some pretty big questions. My clients are often surprised by how much they learn about themselves through the process, and are also surprised by how mentally exhausting it can be. Why not save yourself some stress and get started now? What experiences brought you to where you are today? What did you learn from these experiences? How does this influence your goals? You might not include all of this in your personal statement, but being able to answer these questions for yourself will create a powerful personal statement. 

Find Allies at Your Dream School 

Ah, the infamous cold call (now cold email). This might feel awkward and vulnerable, but that’s the exact reason not many people do it, and it’s your chance to shine. Get familiar with the schools you are applying to. Look for research projects you might be interested in if admitted. Look for student organizations that you would join. If you find faculty or students whom you can imagine working with if you were a student there, reach out to them. Ask them questions and tell them why you are interested. You’d be surprised how much this can help you. 

Ask Ahead of the Pack 

“Admissions Season” is a real thing. Whether it’s reaching out to an acquaintance who just went through the admissions process, asking a former professor or boss for a letter of recommendation, or seeking help from a mentor, the sooner you ask, the more help you will get. If you ask for help early, we will have more attention to devote to you. If you already have someone in mind for your letter of recommendation, why not reconnect with them and ask them now? Asking someone ahead of time shows respect for their time and schedule, which recommenders always appreciate. Plus if you give someone the opportunity to put more thought and time into your letter, you’ll get much better results.

Applicants often make the mistake of treating letters of recommendation like just a formality in the application process. Who recommends you and what they say about you absolutely matters and can have a profound impact on your application.

Melissa Avila (MSN, WHNP-BC, CNM) - I'm a University of Pennsylvania alumna. When I first applied to NP schools, I heavily researched the schools and the process, and gained admission to every school I applied to, including three Ivy Leagues and other top 10 programs. I now mentor NP applicants going through the process. I'm here to share what I've learned.

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6 Comment(s)

NursingMentorPRN, BSN, MSN, NP, CNM

Specializes in NP Admissions and Interview mentoring. Has 7 years experience.

I’m happy to answer anyone’s questions here in the comments! (Or you can message me if you’d rather keep it private.) 😊

Hello 🙂 this is a great article! When it comes to letter of recommendations , may I ask when the time comes , do you think that having science/math/nursing professors add more depth or makes admission take it more seriously?

NursingMentorPRN, BSN, MSN, NP, CNM

Specializes in NP Admissions and Interview mentoring. Has 7 years experience.

On 4/30/2021 at 3:15 PM, TheNursingdoll said:

Hello 🙂 this is a great article! When it comes to letter of recommendations , may I ask when the time comes , do you think that having science/math/nursing professors add more depth or makes admission take it more seriously?

Thank you so much! It definitely helps to have the letters or recommend come from someone who is also a nurse or understands the traits that are needed/helpful in learning. However, if you don’t have any nursing experience (I.e. applying to nursing school, which I think you posted that you are), I wouldn’t worry about where the letter comes from as much as how well they know you. You want someone to write you a letter of rec that is more than “they did really well in my class.” You want someone who has interacted with you enough that they can talk about what makes you a uniquely good candidate for this program. It helps a ton if you give them some info ahead of time so they can use it to guide how they write their letter of rec. If you have an a political science teacher that has wonderful things to say about how you are a naturally good communicated and handle group projects really well, and a science teacher that is only going to say something vague about you being on time and getting good grades, I’d choose the former. Only one of my recommenders was a nurse. (I applied for ABSN/MSN programs.) But they all knew me really well and had a lot to say about me. Hope this helps! (Sorry for the delayed response. The last couple days have been crazy for me.🤪)

Mirna Duran, BSN

Specializes in Medical Surgical. Has 23 years experience.

Thank You for the article . I’m currently researching several Nurse Practitioner online program. I was excited to find an online FNP offer in my state , however I just noticed that the program is not CCNE accredited. Should I continue my search or apply for this program. Thank You.

NursingMentorPRN, BSN, MSN, NP, CNM

Specializes in NP Admissions and Interview mentoring. Has 7 years experience.

4 hours ago, Mirna Duran said:

Thank You for the article . I’m currently researching several Nurse Practitioner online program. I was excited to find an online FNP offer in my state , however I just noticed that the program is not CCNE accredited. Should I continue my search or apply for this program. Thank You.

That's a good question. First, to be totally honest, I don't know anyone who has gone to nor have I looked into non CCNE accredited programs, so I don't have much of a knowledge base to go off of here. That being said, I would be pretty hesitant to attend a non accredited program when there are so many well-respected, accredited online programs out there. I imagine a non-accredited school could cause issues with funding a loan forgiveness, and different boards and state licensing. Again, I don't know all the ins and outs of this so I don't want to act like I am in a place to give advice on the matter, however these would be the issues I'd consider. You're welcome to message me if you want to talk more about your specific situation. :)  

Mirna Duran, BSN

Specializes in Medical Surgical. Has 23 years experience.

Thank You for your input in the matter .