What Do I Need to Know About Reentering the Workforce as an FNP?

Marilyn W. Edmunds, PhD, CRNP


July 01, 2005


I am a family nurse practitioner (FNP) who graduated in August 2002. However, because of many personal and professional issues, I have not practiced as an FNP anywhere since that time. In June, I will be attending a review course, and I'll be taking my certification exam in August. Once this certification is completed, I hope to return to the workforce. What steps do you recommend I take to reenter the workforce?

Susan Hofmann, FNP

Response from Marilyn W. Edmunds, PhD, CRNP

I think taking a review course is an important first step. That will help get you up to date on new information since you graduated. Choose a comprehensive review course so that when you leave the course you will have an idea of what you have mastered and areas on which you should focus. Courses that have review books along with them, such as that provided by the American Nurses Credentialing Center,[1] will allow you to track your progress easily in reviewing content. They have a chapter in their review book that helps you develop a customized plan for how to study for the examination.

The second step you need to take is to refresh your clinical skills. Begin by reviewing the physical assessment content in the text that you used in your NP program. Many university libraries now have video physical examination tapes that you might check out and review.

Each state varies on what you are allowed to do as a clinician prior to entering the workforce officially. You would need to know if you could "shadow" another NP or physician in a clinical practice setting or whether you would need to wait until after you have passed your certification examination. Consult the Board of Nursing within your state to find out exactly what the law allows.[2]

Then, following the regulations of your state, search the professional arena and explore some ways of volunteering your time in a practice to refresh your skills. You would be seeking the type of preceptorship experience you had as a student, but this is difficult without the structure and legal protection provided by an official university-sponsored clinical arrangement with a preceptor. For example, you will not be able to assume any responsibility for the diagnosis or treatment of patients, chart, or bill for any services. However, you might be able to examine patients under the direction of another clinician and discuss with them your recommended treatment options. Thus, you will be dependent upon the goodwill of the clinicians to help you get this experience. If you are seeking an employment arrangement with the practice, perhaps you could negotiate some time shadowing them in exchange for volunteering some time if they hire you.


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