It's OK for New NPs to Need Guidance!
Dear Career Coach: I need some coaching to help me find the right NP job. I graduated with my MSN in 2012 and am currently working, but I am having difficulty due to not getting what I needed in my graduate program. I am also a certified diabetes educator and would ideally like to combine my extensive experience in diabetes education with an NP role. I need a lot of guidance and clinical support in the NP role because I just don't feel I can be completely independent at this point.
When applying and in an interview setting, how do I present myself as confident and competent while also asking for guidance and support?
Dear Job Seeker: The most helpful advice I can give you is to recognize that what you are experiencing is completely normal. It's unrealistic to expect someone to graduate from an NP program and be fully independent. You are a beginner, and that is OK. Yes, even someone practicing for 2 to 3 years can be a beginner if they haven't had the right guidance. This can be difficult for new and newish NPs to accept, especially after years of practicing as an RN. It's hard to go from being the expert back to being a novice. Give yourself a pat on the back for admitting your limitations.
It's also not necessary for you to be completely independent or proficient in order to appear confident. In fact, if you are honest in your representation of your skills and abilities, you will make a far better impression on your interviewer. However, that doesn't mean you are going to focus on the negative either. How you frame your experience (or lack of) is really what makes all the difference in how you will be perceived.
Start by pointing out your strengths and stating what you do well. When describing your skills, avoid making equivocal statements that start with "I think" or "I might," which tend to make you sound less confident. Affirming statements such as "I can" or "I am" will make you FEEL more confident too.
When you are asked about areas in which you have less expertise, always start your response on a positive note and never repeat a negative. For example: "I have taken care of many patients with asthma but I would appreciate additional learning opportunities to refine my prescribing skills." Not "I am not very familiar with asthma medications but I think I just need more practice."
Applying for jobs that don't suit you and your skill set may increase your anxiety and cause you to appear less confident. Look carefully at the job description to evaluate if the position is a good match for you.
Be upfront in your interview that you are seeking a position that values and supports collaboration. Ask about the orientation period and who will be available to you for consultation. Looks for practices that have previously hired new grad NPs and avoid settings where you might be scheduled alone. Be honest in your desire for a mentor. If an employer is put off by your honesty or can't provide a workplace environment that meets your needs for further learning, that is a strong indicator it wasn't the right position for you.