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Career Coach

Think Before You Post
October 7, 2015 11:13 AM by Renee Dahring
This past week there has been a bit of a local scandal involving an "alleged" tweet by someone who really ought to know better. Apparently this person posted a rather inappropriate comment about a specific minority group. The tweet wasn't obscene and didn't contain any profane language but it was insensitive to say the least. Quite predictably folks are calling for his job and even more predictably he is claiming his account was hacked. 

By now you probably know where I am going with this post and yes this is going to be another reminder that you must be very careful when using any sort of social media. Have you ever heard the quote "Where do I go to get my reputation back?" Your image is priceless, and once it has been ruined you might not ever recover. It's a fact of life that negative news always outlasts the positive. 

Just because you don't post something outrageously offensive doesn't mean you aren't at risk. I know a whole bunch of clinicians who are perfectly nice people but you wouldn't necessarily know if from their social media posts. If your posts are overly negative or complaining you might be sending a message you don't mean to send. Yes, we all have a bad day but a constant stream of disappointment in the world gets old. And so does the self-righteousness. If you are a person who works with the public you should keep in mind that whenever you post a strong or controversial political viewpoint there is at least a 50/50 chance that someone is going to feel the opposite. And now you have probably just alienated them.

I wouldn't put too much faith in thinking you can keep your posts private either. Just one "like" or "share" and your words or images are no longer private. I know I see posts every day that I would bet my next paycheck that the author thought were private. 

Before you post anywhere ask yourself if you would feel comfortable sharing the post with your employer or any of your patients. Ask yourself if your post put your best side forward? If it doesn't then hit the delete button. Your post probably won't make the local news but it could easily end up on your boss's or patient's computer screen. The best case scenario for you is embarrassment; the worst is losing your job. And worse yet, if you have made reference to a patient you might get sued. Many employers now routinely keep an eye what their employees are up to on social media. It's also becoming very common to check Google and social media before hiring. 

Best to stick to posting cute baby animal videos and a few recipes.

Empowering NPs & PAs
September 23, 2015 11:53 AM by Renee Dahring
This is really hard for me to say but here it goes: we should thank the ladies of "The View." In an ironic twist of fate that snarky remark insulting the Miss America with her "doctor's stethoscope" has unintentionally done more to advance the image of nursing profession than the pageant contestant they were mocking. Not only did the entire nursing community rise up to set the record straight but a good chunk of the public joined in to support us.  My Facebook feed has been full of some really great nursing memes this past week - I guess I can thank them for that too! 

So after we get past our outrage we need to examine why after all these years does the perception persist that physicians own healthcare? As nurse practitioners and physician assistants we have been fighting this bias for a long time. We have protested "see your doctor" and "consult a physician" messages in advertising and even made some progress but every day I still hear folks - even nurses - universally default to the term "doctor" when they really mean healthcare provider. (And yes, I know that NPs can be called Dr. too, so don't send me letters!)

Believe it or not, I was actually thinking about this subject a few days before "The View" controversy erupted. I happened to be reading a popular healthcare forum on the topic of teaching. This is a forum that includes physicians, NPs and PAs. I was taken aback at the number of physicians who said they wanted to teach in our NP or PA programs. Now maybe they meant well but it felt to me that the unspoken implication was that NPs and PAs needed to have some physician instruction if we expected to be doing a physician's job. 

Attention: we are not the Diet Coke of healthcare! We aren't the generic cheaper substitute for the Brand name product. I don't know how much clearer we as a profession can be about the fact that we are not trying to be mini physicians. Perhaps they missed the last several decades and did not notice that we are separate professions with our own body of knowledge and our own culture. Just because we do some of the same things and our professions intersect at times doesn't make us the "lite" version of an MD.  

And we have our own educators. There are plenty of talented folks in our own professions to be our teachers and our role models. I suggest that if MDs want to "help" us they can start by acknowledging us for what we are and stop talking about what we aren't.

Making the Move
September 9, 2015 10:04 AM by Renee Dahring
Dear Career Coach: I am planning to seek a job in a completely new community. Currently I live in a small town and would like to relocate to a larger community within my state or possibly a long distance move to another region of the U.S. I am wondering if you can give me any advice about the best way to approach finding a job in a health system that I am completely unfamiliar with?

Dear Job Seeker:  You are wise to give some thought to your job search before you begin. Applying for jobs without a solid and well thought out plan is to set yourself up for failure. This is true whether you are looking locally or making a big move. 

As I was pondering an answer to your question it occurred to me that your situation is not that different from the challenges as a recruiter. Every day I was tasked with finding applicants that would be a good fit for positions with employers who were located in all different parts of the country. In order to find the right clinician and make a successful match it was imperative I learn about the culture of the organization. I will share the strategy that worked best for me.

Don't be afraid to ask questions. Get someone on the phone and ask them as many questions as you can think of about the job and their organization. Before you even begin telling them YOUR story you should start by asking about the people who work there. What types of personalities fit in best? What is the history of the job - who did it before and why did they leave? Next, ask them about the patients who attend that clinic. Are they young working families, retirees or a mix? Ask also about the community. Try to get a sense of what people who live there like to do for work and recreation. What are the major attractions? What challenges is the community facing? 

I know you are thinking this sounds like a lot to ask of a stranger but if you are genuinely interested people will respond to you. Of course, prior to your call you should have thoroughly researched all of the above. This will help you sound knowledgeable and ask questions that make sense. The internet is an invaluable tool to gather info. You can quickly and easily review the mission and value statements of prospective employers as well as if they have won any awards, have any initiatives or projects in the works. And here is the insider tip - look at the healthcare organization from the patient perspective. Pretend like you are thinking of going to their clinic for your healthcare - what would you like to know?

And lastly, contact any local professional organizations in the area you are thinking you might want to live and work. Most have a website and many have Facebook pages where you can interact with clinicians who already live there. 

Good luck and happy job searching!

Hiring Trends
August 26, 2015 7:41 AM by Renee Dahring
Demand for NPs or PAs to fill permanent or direct hire positions fluctuates wildly. In the past decade I have seen both boom and bust markets. The economy most directly drives the ability of employers to hire. During the recession we saw a marked decrease in the number of open positions. Healthcare organizations were feeling the squeeze of falling revenue because they were unable to collect on outstanding bills and consumers started to avoid or cut back on healthcare visits. The recession coincided with the uncertainty about the implementation of the ACA which further complicated the job scene. Employers stopped hiring and in some cases even began to lay off or cut hours for many NPs and PAs.

After a rough year or two the economy began to stabilize and employers not only began to feel more confident about hiring they also seemed to have an "a-ha" moment about what hiring an advanced practice provider could mean to the bottom line. Doctors are expensive and since we can safely and effectively do much of what a physician does it made good financial sense to hire more of us. NPs saw job growth as employers began to recognize that NPs were a good fit for specialty practices too. Suddenly there seemed to be more than enough jobs to go around.

In contrast to all the fluctuation in direct hiring, the market for locum tenens NP/PA clinicians has consistently remained strong. There are several reasons locum providers remain a popular option. It should come as no surprise to anyone that the shortage of physicians has driven much of the demand. There are numbers of seasoned physicians hitting retirement and leaving the market. I know of several MDs that left direct care for administrative roles. The changing healthcare environment has been the last straw for other MDs. Let's face it, being a physician in family practice is not the same as it was twenty or thirty years ago. Many don't feel as respected or appreciated as they used to feel. They don't care for being reduced to the role of an "employee." And in their defense, employers aren't exactly doing much to make their docs feel they are valued. The end result is there are more physicians exiting primary care than entering. 

Practices that need clinicians turn to temporary employees in order to keep their doors open. NPs and PAs are the perfect solution. We can see the majority of patients that MDs can see. We have proven we can deliver quality care and we have a passion for primary care. We don't require boatloads of money and we don't bring an ego.
The Benefits of Temporary Employees
August 12, 2015 8:05 AM by Renee Dahring
I am often asked why an employer would chose to hire a locum tenens or temporary NP or PA rather than just hiring someone for the position. Job seekers often are quick to jump to conclusions and assume that an employer is forced to seek temporary help out of desperation because they are not a good employer. This certainly can be the case but it doesn't happen as often as you might think. 

At first glance, hiring a locum tenens NP or PA doesn't seem to make good financial sense. I mean, aren't temporary employees expensive? Not only does the employer have to pay the clinician, they will also being paying a fee over and above the hourly wage the clinician is receiving to cover the services of the staffing agency. Doesn't make sense. 

Actually it does. While you many think of your wage as what you receive on your paycheck an employer has an entirely different view. Employers pay around 15-20% on top of the salary they pay you to cover their portion of your payroll taxes. Payroll taxes include social security, Medicare and unemployment.  When you are on a locum assignment these taxes will be the responsibility of the staffing agency. Many staffing agencies get around this by hiring you as a 1099 employee or a "contractor." This means you will pay the taxes yourself. 

Employers also consider benefits such as PTO, CME, malpractice and health insurance as part of your salary. As a locum tenens clinician the contracted employer is not obligated to provide any of these benefits to you because you are not directly employed by them. Some staffing agencies do offer some or all of these benefits - it depends. At any rate, the clinic or hospital doesn't have to add you to their policies and that can save them a great deal of time and money. 

The staffing agency incurs all the job search expenses too. It's not cheap to run ads, review applicants and conduct interviews. Many healthcare organizations have downsized their human resources staff and rely on outside agencies. Financially it often works out better for the employer to pay for these services only when they need them rather than maintaining a staff of their own. 

Long term commitments can be expensive in a market where demands and requirements are rapidly changing. Many employers are still nervous about adding permanent personnel in an uncertain healthcare environment. Patient demand may be up but reimbursements remain an issue. 

Locum tenens has long been known as the "try before you buy" option. Employers also want to make sure they hire the "right" person for the job. It's much harder to terminate than to hire. Bringing a clinician on temporarily gives both parties an easy out of things don't work out so well. 

Landing a Job in Primary Care
July 29, 2015 8:16 AM by Renee Dahring

New grad NPs usually have a pretty specific idea in mind of where they would like to work after graduation, especially those who come out of a program that emphasized primary care. After all, you have spent the last two to three years learning how NPs are the solution to the primary care shortage so now you are excited to get out there and increase access! And many of you will find the job you seek. But for many others the search will not yield that ideal primary care position.  

Primary care jobs are more plentiful that they were a few years ago which is good news. But the availability of primary care jobs can vary a great deal depending on a number of factors. One is geography. There are areas of the country that have multiple openings and areas where the market is completely saturated. If you are in a tight market you are going to have a tougher time. 

Sometimes the jobs are “hidden.” Because primary care jobs are desirable and fill quickly many healthcare organizations don’t even need to advertise these positions.  Openings can be filled easily by word of mouth or referrals from current staff. When primary care jobs are advertised new grads will face considerable competition because there will be multiple applicants and many of these applicants will have previous experience. That works against you too. 

Employers have also increasingly been showing a hiring preference to the students who did their clinical rotations in their organization. This is obviously an advantage for the new grad who is interested in sticking with the same system but for new grads who are relocating or want a change it can be difficult to get noticed.  

If you are a few months post-graduation and still haven’t found that coveted primary care position you are probably now considering a job in a specialty care. This is where reality meets necessity. While your heart is in primary care you feel confident you can find satisfaction in a niche role too. But even so, you worry that diving into a specialty practice right out of school will ruin your future chances of ever finding your way back to primary care. One of the most frequent concerns I hear from new grads is “will I lose my skills if I take a different job?” 

Maybe, but I wouldn’t lose sleep over it. Yes you will lose some skills but that won’t completely disqualify you. Put it this way, you will be no worse off than where you started, which is as a new grad applying for a primary care job. Except you will be experienced. And depending on what type of specialty you choose you may actually gain some expertise in areas that will apply to primary care. Those are all advantages you don’t have now. Delaying your first job too long will ultimately hurt your skills and future job prospects more.

The Dangers of Social Media
July 15, 2015 8:23 AM by Renee Dahring

If I want information about you the first place I turn to is the internet. This is where I will find out what you didn't tell me in your resume or interview. You might be surprised what I can learn with one quick Google search. 

My first stop is going to be your social media page(s). As your potential employer I want to see what image you are projecting to the world. Why? If I can find you so can your patients. If I am going to hire you I don't want you making my healthcare organization look bad. You are a professional and I expect to see you behaving like one.

The first thing I will notice is your photos. Let's face it, we only have "selfies" because we have social media. What I hope to see is tasteful photos of you. What I don't want to see is pictures of you drinking excessively or making rude gestures. If you are posting photos of yourself is revealing clothing I am going to question your judgement. 

Your comments will also tell me a great deal about you. We all have opinions but as your employer I will expect you to play nice with others. Social media can bring out the worst in people, especially when it comes to politics or other causes that people have strong feelings about. Posting snarky remarks, making fun of people you disagree with are not attractive personality traits. Self-righteousness wears thin too. How you behave online may translate into how you behave in the office and that is a chance I might not be willing to take.

I am also interested in what you are saying about your current job. If you are frequently complaining about your co-workers, your hours and your boss, that's not going to impress me. No employer wants negativity in the workplace. We've all worked with someone who just can't be pleased. Bad attitudes and back stabbing create a bad environment. If you are unhappy call a friend instead of posting it on Facebook. I don't want to hire you only to revisit your social media a few months later to find you are trashing your new job!

And finally, any posts about patients are a deal breaker, even if you aren't using their names. Posting anything about a patient is a serious breach of confidentiality. Posting about patients will not only get you fired, it may get you sued and in some cases it may bring criminal charges. 

And if you think this advice pertains only to job seekers you may want to think again. Current employers have been known to Google employers from time to time too. 

My advice? Stick to posting cat videos. Everyone loves cat videos.
Top 5 Resume Mistakes to Avoid
July 1, 2015 7:34 AM by Renee Dahring
I have devoted a great number of my blogs to the information that potential employers expect to see on your resume. But it might not matter that you include the right things when only one or more of the wrong things could cast a shadow on all your good efforts. And when I say "wrong" I mean information that runs the gamut anywhere from useless and pointless all the way to "I want to stop reading this resume now." Yes, there are some resume errors that make employers doubt whether or not you really want the job.

So today I am going to take a different approach and tell you the top 5 things that recruiters are tired of seeing on your resume.

  1. Your GPA. There is simply no need to put your GPA on your resume. Not once in all my years of recruiting did I have an employer request to see an applicant's GPA. Why? Because the only people that care about GPAs are students and parents. Oh, and graduate school admissions offices. Awards and scholarships are OK to mention. Just put them in a separate category and not in your education section.
  2. Social security, license and NPI/DEA numbers. Two words: identify theft. Including private information like this on your resume doesn't damage your job prospects as much as it might hurt your financial life should your resume fall into the wrong hands. This information belongs in your application not your resume.
  3. Non-medical jobs. Unless you were the CEO of a Fortune 500 company your previous non-healthcare work experience is a waste of valuable resume space. I know you think adding these jobs shows your work ethic but employers find no value in reading about your former career as a barista or sandwich artist.
  4. Non-traditional fonts, oversize fonts or pretty much any attempts to give your resume a more creative look. Here is the bottom line - your resume is not Facebook. Attention seeking tactics are not appreciated. We want the facts not distractions. 
  5. Objective statements. This train left the station a few years ago when employers began to note that the objective statement on every resume they read just happened to proclaim the applicants wish to get a job that just happened to match the job description of the job opening. Coincidence? I think not. A summary of qualifications has replaced the objective statement. If you don't know what that is read my previous blog.

Avoid these 5 tiresome resume mistakes - you and your resume will thank me.

Navigating Your Job Search
June 17, 2015 10:03 AM by Renee Dahring
Once you have graduated it is only natural to want to get out there and start working in your new role as soon as possible.  

I happen to believe that it is better to take your time. I mentioned in an earlier blog that a year after graduation most NPs will either have quit their first job or be thinking about quitting their first job. I won't go into the reasons for this again today but will refer you to my previous post "5 Tips For Landing The Right Job After Graduation" for more info on that topic. 

There is no "right" amount of time to find your first position. A few new grads will be fortunate enough to have jobs lined up before they graduate and a few will secure employment shortly after graduation. The rest of you will have a job search that continues on for a few weeks or months. 

So when should you worry? That can depend on where you live. Some markets are tighter than others and even seasoned clinicians have difficulty find a new job. New grads in these markets can expect a search of up to 6 months or maybe even a year.

Some states have recently enacted new laws that impose additional requirements for new NPs who have less than a year of experience and it remains to be seen how that might impact new graduates who have not yet attained "full practice authority" status. I suspect in areas that have fewer jobs available it will make it more difficult for new NPs. Time will tell.  

Here are a couple tips if your search for your first job becomes prolonged:

  • Take a second look at your resume. Are you emphasizing the right elements? New grad NPs should focus on their clinical rotations and education. Many new grad NP resumes lean too heavily on their RN experience which only confuses the reader.
  • Apply only for jobs for which you are qualified. Applying for everything and anything available makes you look unfocused and desperate.
  • Stay in your current job. Having no job is more problematic than continuing to work as a nurse.
  • Any job searches that continues in excess of 6 months past graduation requires some explanation. If there are extenuating circumstances, such as a move or family obligations, you can communicate that in a cover letter.
  • Stay positive. Long job searches can get you down so do whatever it takes to stay upbeat. No one wants to hire someone who is having a pity party.
The Dark Side of Recruiting
May 27, 2015 4:07 PM by Renee Dahring
Admit it, when you hear the word "recruiter" you cringe a little. Every year recruiters place thousands of NPs and PAs in great jobs, but those aren't the stories that you hear.  Like the plane that didn't crash successful job placements aren't likely to make the news.  Instead your colleagues will regale you with tales of recruiting nightmares.  I was a recruiter for years (and did a mighty fine job!) but I won't deny there are some unscrupulous folks conducting some questionable business practices out there.  As a former recruiter I am going to let you in on a few signs your recruiter might not be acting in your best interests.

A reputable recruiter should have a basic understanding of the terminology of your profession.  Decent recruiters should be fluent in NP/PA speak and use words like NPI, credentialing and scope of practice comfortably in conversations.  If they don't, it may be a sign that recruiting advanced practice clinicians is a sideline business. To avoid inappropriate job placements I recommend working with agencies that have a division devoted to NPs and PAs. 

And speaking of conversations, it's not unreasonable to expect to personally speak with any recruiter who wishes to represent you. A recruiter who is willing to submit your resume to an employer without first speaking to you is a recruiter you want to avoid. Submitting unscreened applicants for jobs without first ensuring they match the requirements is more than just an annoyance. There are recruiters who use what I call the "spaghetti testing" approach. In other words they keep throwing resumes at employers and hope that eventually one sticks. Inappropriate applications will come back to haunt you and spoil your chances down the road when later you want to apply for a job you actually want. When you accumulate previous applications that are floating around in the system it creates the impression that you have applied for anything and everything that comes along. 

Reputable recruiters should also be able to clearly outline the job placement process to you. Each step should be clear, you should know what to expect from them and what they expect from you. 

The process should look something like this:

  • You interview first with the recruiter at the staffing agency to determine if you match the position. At that time pay, hours and other info is provided to you. 
  • If you meet the requirement and are still interested in the terms - and with your permission - then the agency will present you to the client. (Note: At this stage a recruiter may request to check your references.) 
  • If the presentation goes well the next step is to set you up with an interview with the client. After interviewing the recruiter should provide you with feedback from the employer. 
  • If an offer is made the recruiter will help you negotiate and close the deal. 
  • At all phases good recruiters will advise and guide you through the process.  

If you aren't receiving this level of service you might want to find a new recruiter.

The Benefits of Recruiters
May 13, 2015 10:52 AM by Renee Dahring
Let's review a few basic details about recruiting agencies and what using a recruiter means to your job search. 

Recruiters are hired and paid for by the employer. The majority are hired on a contingency basis and are compensated only after they find a candidate and that candidate is hired by the employer. As a job seeker, you benefit from this arrangement because you are not required to pay anything for the services you receive from the recruiter. The employer benefits because the recruiter is motivated to find the right candidate in order to be paid. I mention this because it is important for you to understand that even though a recruiter's goal is to put you into a position you should not expect the recruiter to do an individualized job search just for you. Unless of course you want to pay the fee! 

Recruiters have full and direct access to H.R. If you have been applying for jobs you have no doubt experienced the frustration of trying to reach an actual live person. Applications are submitted electronically and job seekers are left wondering who, if anyone, on the other end actually receives their resume. This isn't a problem when you apply via a recruiter. Recruiters have frequent contact with their clients so when a recruiter presents candidates to an employer feedback is swift. This personal "handling" of an application by an outside recruiter is a huge advantage to you. Your application will essentially be chaperoned through the entire process and personally delivered to the hiring manager.  This service is especially beneficial if you have unusual circumstances such as employment gaps, frequent job changes or non-traditional roles that can make you look less than desirable on paper. The recruiter has the opportunity to provide explanations directly to the employer on your behalf.

Recruiters don't just find names for an employer, they provide a valuable service. Recruiting fees can run into the thousands and so the expectation of the recruiter is that he or she will assume the responsibility of running job ads and actively sourcing candidates. The employer will see resumes from only the most viable candidates for the position. Reputable recruiters do not wish to expend valuable time and energy on applicants that do not meet the requirement from the employer. As a job seeker this means you must view your interactions with a recruiter in the same professional manner you would if you were interacting directly with the employer. If you don't impress the recruiter your application will go no further.

To protect yourself, you should be dealing only with well-established and reputable firms. Next time we'll talk about the dark side of recruiting.

Career Prospects
April 29, 2015 8:15 AM by Renee Dahring

This week let's have a look at what is currently going on in the NP job market. Whether you are graduating this spring or looking for a new job there are few things happening that could have an impact your job search. 

My sources in the industry are telling me that while jobs are plentiful, so are the number of applicants for each job. I am assured that for every open position there is no shortage of qualified candidates. This is a change, because for the past couple of years we have been in a job seekers market and jobs have been relatively easy to find and easy to obtain. This year the pendulum appears to be swinging back towards the favor of the employer. 

The reasons for the shift in the ratio of jobs to applicants isn't clear. Markets have always been cyclical so this might be nothing more than the usual fluctuations we see over time. Regulatory changes to nurse practitioner practice has occurred in many states but it may be a little too early to determine whether or not that is having an impact on the market. Certainly there has been some migration of NPs from restrictive practice states to those states that offer full practice authority but it probably only accounts for a small percentage and it really only affect a few select geographic areas. I have heard some theories that as a backlash to NPs obtaining full practice authority some organizations have begun hiring more PAs but at this point I am unable to verify if this is actually occurring. At any rate, in order to skew the NP market to this extent both of these trends would have to be happening at a fairly high rate. 

The explanation is likely multifactorial. It could be that supply is just exceeding demand due to the increased numbers of NP programs and the numbers of new NPs that are entering the workforce. The economy continues to play a role. The recession may have officially ended but the recovery remains sluggish. This means that more NPs delay retirement and elect to stay in the job market. The need to make better money might also be driving many NPs to seek jobs with better pay and/or more hours.

Whatever the reason, if you are looking for a new job you should acknowledge that the market is competitive and plan your strategy accordingly. If you expect to stand out from the crowd of applicants you must prove to the employer YOU have what they want. This means each time you submit your resume it must be tailored to the position you are seeking. Your resume must be focused or you will be lost in the shuffle.

Choosing the Right References
April 15, 2015 9:16 AM by Renee Dahring

Okay new grads, let’s talk about references.  If you are graduating soon and looking for your first job you are probably wondering who you should choose to be your references. 

Who makes the best references?

In order to choose the persons who will provide the best reference we must first understand what information will be required from your reference. References are asked to speak to your skills as a nurse practitioner or physician assistant. In addition to commenting on your readiness for practice many reference forms contain checklists of skills and your references will be asked indicate whether or not you are proficient in the performance of those skills or procedures. In order to choose a viable reference for you this means you must identify someone who has directly observed the skills you have been learning during your education. Your preceptors and instructors are in the best position to provide this information to prospective employers.

Your references will also be asked how long and in what capacity they have known you. Ideally you should look for persons who have known you for at least a year. This may not always be possible if your reference is one of your preceptors. Many clinical rotations do not last an entire year but because a preceptor has recent and intense exposure to your performance an exception can be made. If you are asking a supervisor to act as a reference make sure they have known you over a period of time and the time frame is recent. 

You need at least one reference from your program or your application will raise some serious red flags for employers.

Who should you avoid using as a reference?

Your coworkers and fellow students don’t carry much influence when it comes to a reference because they can’t comment on your new skills. Remember, you are not looking for a job as an RN or an EMT.  Sure they can say you are motivated or reliable but employers already assume anyone who can make it through a rigorous graduate level clinical program possesses a level of commitment and tenacity.

Professors from your undergraduate program are not terribly helpful either. The expectations in your new role are different. 

And non-healthcare related references should be avoided at all costs. 

Final tip

Don't choose a procrastinator to be your reference. Employers won't wait forever for your references to respond. And be sure to give them a heads up so they are not surprised when contacted by your prospective employer. 

5 Tips for Landing the Right Job After Graduation
April 1, 2015 9:32 AM by Renee Dahring
Did you know that an alarming number of new graduates will be looking for a different job before they have finished one year at their first job? 

Your first job after graduation ought to be a positive experience and not have you out combing the job ads for something better. There are a number of reasons new grads become dissatisfied and unhappy with their first position. I would like to offer you a few suggestions to help you avoid ending up in a job you dislike.

  • Slow down. You don't need to have a job right away. Don't fall into that trap of thinking that you need to have a job lined up the day after you graduate. You have plenty of time to find the right position so no need to rush. Many bad job decisions are made because new grads felt pressured to start work too soon. It's easy to get into a panic and start feeling the pressure but there is actually more than one advantage to waiting. During the spring and early summer the market is flooded with new grads all competing for the same positions. So take a deep breath, concentrate on passing boards and then begin your search. You will also find once you are licensed you get more responses to your applications.
  • Set your emotions aside before saying "yes." As a new grad it's easy to get excited about receiving your first job offer, but before you accept it's important ask yourself if you are taking the job because it's available or because it's the job you really wanted. I have always said that job offers can be a little like marriage proposals - it's so flattering to be asked that you answer before thinking it through completely. And like marriage it's also much harder (and messier) to get out of it than it was to get into it.
  • Ask "new grad" questions. Before accepting an offer find out whether the employer has ever hired a new graduate before you. Get specifics on who will be available to you for consults and back up. Will this person physically be onsite when you are working? I can't tell you how many new clinicians found out the hard way that their "collaborating" provider rarely came to the clinic.
  • Be clear on expectations. You should ask how long your orientation will be and who exactly will do the orientation. How many patients will you be expected to see during and after orientation?
  • Get it in writing. During the hiring process you may interact with a number of folks, all of whom may promise you different things. To protect yourself it is best if you have all promises put on paper.
Showcasing Your Experience as a New Grad
March 18, 2015 8:36 AM by Renee Dahring
It's spring! And that means one thing - New Grads. I am going to devote my next few blogs to the graduating class of 2015. 

First, let's talk about communicating experience on your resume. New Grads have 2 common misconceptions.

Until I have my first NP or PA job I have no experience. 

If you believe this you are selling yourself and your skills short. Your clinical rotations are your most recent and most relevant experience and it is critical that your rotations be front and center on your resume. Create a section on your resume and label it something like "student experience" or "clinical rotations." Under this heading you will list each of your clinical sites much as you would list a paid job.  Note the number of hours in each rotation, the focus of the rotation (peds, gyn, etc.) and the skills you mastered during that rotation. It's also helpful to give an example of the number of patients you saw each day - this gives the prospective employer an idea of your productivity. Consult your clinical logs if you need a reminder of what sort of cases and patients you were seeing. Avoid uninformative statements like "proficient at physical exams, assessing and diagnosing." That is the definition of a NP/PA rather than a summary of your individual accomplishments and it won't help you stand out from other applicants. Focus instead on skills you mastered or conditions you managed.

My jobs before and during school count as my experience.  

This is a common mistake. NPs tend to want to highlight their nursing experience. Employers want to know that you worked as a nurse but you shouldn't over emphasize this section on your resume. Remember, you are competing against experienced NPs for positions. Experienced NPs that were also nurses too! You shouldn't devote valuable resume space to detailing your job duties as an RN. A simple one or two line entry is sufficient. If employers want to know more about your nursing position they will ask you in an interview. 

PAs should follow the same principal for your previous healthcare related jobs. Include the position, but keep it simple. The name of the employer, dates of employment and your job title should be sufficient. 

For both NP and PA new grads it isn't necessary to prove to an employer you are reliable and can hold a job. It's understood that if you can make it through a grueling NP or PA program you are no slouch. New grad NPs and PAs should also NEVER include non-medical or non-healthcare work experience on their resume. The only exception is if you were in the military or held a high level position such as a CEO. 



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    Occupation: Nurse Practitioners and NP Recruiters
    Setting: correctional healthcare/career consulting/teaching
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