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Should You Pursue an NP Residency Program?

If you’re getting ready to graduate from your nurse practitioner program, you’re probably thinking about how to find your first NP job.

You also probably have a lot of questions about your next steps, such as: 

  1. What type of practice do I want to work in?
  2. Do I want to subspecialize?
  3. How much money will I make as an NP?
  4. Will the practice be supportive and mentor me?
  5. Am I ready for this???


As you scroll through page after page of job postings with these questions lingering in your mind, you may have noticed some listings for NP residency programs. 

“What are those?” you ask yourself. 

“Does it make sense for me to do an NP residency?” Just what you needed, more questions!

In this post, we’ll provide you with some answers. We’ll go over what an NP residency program is, what you’ll learn in one, what value they have for your career, where you can find them, and some tips on how to apply.

Let’s look at each of these topics in detail, so you can decide if doing an NP residency is the right move for you!

5 FAQs About NP Residency Programs

1. What is a nurse practitioner residency program?

When you hear the term “residency,” you probably think of something that physicians do as part of their training. During those residencies, new doctors practice medicine under the supervision of an attending physician while they hone their skills and gain clinical experience.

NP residencies have a similar purpose. While nurse practitioners have experience as registered nurses followed by graduate education with hundreds of additional hours of clinical practice in the NP role, many new grads don’t feel like they’re ready to start practicing independently. NP residencies aim to bridge the gap between education and practice with structured, on-the-job training.

NP residencies began in 2007 and since then, they’ve increased in popularity. They are offered through some healthcare organizations and are available in different specialties depending on your certification (family practice, pediatrics, women’s health, psychiatric , etc.). Most programs are several months long (some up to a year) and a residency is a salaried position.

Keep in mind, the salary offered during the program will likely be less than what you’ll be making after you complete it and less than what you would’ve made if you went right into practice after graduation. Also, there may be a requirement from the healthcare organization to maintain employment for a year or longer after completing the program!

2. What will you learn in an NP residency program?

Because of the push for a better transition to practice for NPs and the growth of NP residencies over the past decade, there’s a professional accreditation organization known as the Consortium for Advanced Practice Providers. When looking for a quality NP residency program, check to see if they’re accredited.

When you attend an accredited program, you’ll be provided with a safe and supportive environment to grow into your new role as a real deal NP. In addition to your typical on-the-job training and IT instructions, the residency will offer you clinical experiences with individualized goals under the supervision and guidance of a mentor.

NP residency programs also include regular classroom lectures to aid in learning important concepts, plus they’ll provide you with assistance when it comes to billing and coding procedures. And to make sure you’re a well-rounded clinician ready to make a positive impact on healthcare, there will be a focus on interdisciplinary practice, quality improvement projects, and initiatives on the social determinants of health. 

3. Do I need to complete an NP residency program?

After that description, you might be pretty intrigued by what a nurse practitioner residency program has to offer, but you also might be wondering if you need to complete an NP residency. The short answer is no. Completion of an NP residency is not a requirement of any licensure or certification body.

However, there are many benefits to doing an NP residency. Research has shown that nurse practitioners that complete residency programs are more satisfied with their career, and are more likely to stay working as an NP. They also have higher retention rates in their job and increased confidence as clinicians. 

4. Where can I find NP residency programs?

So, where can you find these awesome NP residency programs? You should check out this link from the Consortium for Advanced Practice Providers. There you’ll find a map of states that offer accredited NP residencies and a list of the residency programs by specialty. 

Another way to locate programs is to check out local health systems near you and view their job postings. Those programs may not be accredited, but they can still offer you a great experience and help you make a better transition into NP practice. 

5. What are some tips for how to apply?

If you find a program you’re interested in applying to, you should expect to submit an updated resume or CV along with the health system’s application.

Most programs are also going to want letters of recommendation. Ideal writers would be a faculty member from your NP program and your current manager at work, since they can vouch for your clinical knowledge, work ethic, and initiative.

Residency programs have limited spots open each year, so they can be hard to get into. Because of that, you should start thinking about what you’ll write in a personal statement. The length may vary depending on the application’s requirements, but try to articulate why you want to attend the program, what you hope to gain from it, and how you will use what you learn in your career as a nurse practitioner.

Lastly, programs will likely require information regarding your NP program completion, such as transcripts, and after you pass your board exam, you’ll need to submit information as requested for licensing and credentialing. 

Further Reading

A nurse practitioner residency program can help you transition to practice and gain confidence as a new clinician. But, you need to look at the availability of residencies near you, what you’ll learn in the program, salary and benefits, and what’s needed in the application process.

Whatever you decide, we at SMNP Reviews are here to help and support you on your journey to becoming a real deal NP!

Looking for more (free!) info and tips? Check out these other posts at the SMNP Reviews blog!