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Nurse practitioners play an important role in comprehensive healthcare. They can help diagnose and treat illnesses but also focus on preventative care. Nurse practitioner training gives them a unique skill set that prepares them for many different responsibilities. Their versatility allows nurse practitioners to fill gaps in patient care at many healthcare practices.
If you want to learn how to hire a nurse practitioner, read our complete guide on the topic, from posting on a job search site to interview tips. You’ll gain an understanding of the hiring process and how a nurse practitioner can benefit your organization.
What is a nurse practitioner?
Nurse practitioners are healthcare providers that focus on preventing disease and helping patients manage existing illnesses. A nurse practitioner's duties are similar to those of a doctor and a registered nurse (RN). They may offer a wide range of services or specialize in a specific area, such as family practice or pediatrics.
Nurse practitioner education includes a master’s or doctoral degree and specialized clinical courses, which give them extra training beyond what an RN receives. This advanced education makes a nurse practitioner one of the highest-paying nursing jobs.
What does a nurse practitioner do?
Nurse practitioners complete many of the same tasks as RNs, such as recording patient medical history and giving out medication. However, their responsibilities go beyond RN duties to include services similar to a physician.
Some nurse practitioner duties include:
- Performing physical examinations
- Ordering, completing and analyzing diagnostic tests, such as blood tests and X-rays
- Diagnosing and treating illnesses, such as diabetes or injuries
- Managing patient care and creating treatment or preventative health plans
- Prescribing medications
- Providing counseling and education about general health concerns
How to hire a nurse practitioner
Nurse practitioners can perform many of the same services as nurses and doctors. They bring a lot of value to a healthcare practice, especially one facing employee shortages. Keep reading to learn the best practices for hiring nurse practitioners.
Choose the best recruiting strategy for your business
If you’re wondering how to find great candidates, consider the following recruiting strategies to find nurse practitioners within and outside your organization.
Existing nursing staff
Hiring internally has many benefits. Not only is it more affordable, but you already know the candidate is a good cultural fit for your business. Companies that hire internally also motivate employees who want to move up in the organization (a great strategy for retaining employees).
To hire a nurse practitioner from your existing nursing staff, make sure to share the job opening on your internal communication channels. You can use your employee database to directly invite potential candidates meeting nurse practitioner requirements or RNs working toward completing their nurse practitioner education.
Having a professional development program is crucial for your nursing staff to gain new skills and grow in their careers. Hiring internally and giving career growth opportunities can motivate your nursing staff to further their education and develop new skills.
Even when hiring from within, you should still follow the common hiring steps, such as conducting interviews and reference checks. However, you can be less formal with the process and consider past performance assessments to evaluate internal candidates. Communicate with the candidates' current managers to ensure they support their team members in pursuing new opportunities.
Company career page
Your company career page is an excellent opportunity to show off your organization. Potential candidates can explore your career webpage to learn about what it’s like to work for you and view open nurse practitioner jobs. Your careers page should include information about your company culture, employee benefits and available career paths.
Tell potential candidates what it’s like to work as a nurse practitioner at your company. What are the people and environment like? What perks can they expect? Do you offer opportunities for growth and development? Learn more about how to create a better career page to attract the best nurse practitioners.
Job posting sites
The best job posting sites for employers, such as ZipRecruiter, can help you reach a large number of applicants. You'll need a well-written job description, including job duties, candidate qualifications and information about your company. Be transparent about the nurse practitioner's salary in the job description.
Most job boards let companies post a limited number of jobs for free, while others offer free trials to test their services. You can also pay to boost your post to a wider audience.
Many job sites include extra features to make hiring easier for employers and employees. You may be able to screen candidates based on their skills and schedule and conduct interviews through the job platform.
Some sites even offer an applicant tracking system (ATS) to make it easier for large companies to evaluate multiple applicants. Follow the best practices for using an ATS to hire a nurse practitioner quicker and easier.
The best recruiting software and job listing sites make it easy to evaluate applications. They can help you filter candidates and create shortlists to push through to the interview stage.
You probably already know people who could introduce you to nurse practitioner candidates. Start by reaching out to your professional network. Try to connect with someone who recently hired a nurse practitioner for their own business and ask for referrals from among the good candidates they didn’t choose.
Social media is another great resource for finding candidates and building your network. You can post your job listings, follow similar businesses and directly connect with people in the nursing and healthcare industries.
Lastly, hiring a staffing agency can help save you time and effort. Staffing agencies create a job listing based on information about your job opening, screen applicants and conduct interviews to recommend your new hire.
Write a good nurse practitioner job description
Write a compelling nurse practitioner job description to use for your recruiting. A good job description should include the following:
- A short job summary
- Daily activities and responsibilities
- Job goals and objectives
- Requirements and qualifications for the role
Add information about your company’s values and culture, but avoid long paragraphs that make it harder to read. A nurse practitioner job description template can be a great place to get started.
Check the qualifications, experience and skills of all applicants
As you receive applications, screen candidates based on their skills and qualifications. Nurse practitioners should have the following qualifications:
- Master of Science in nursing from an accredited nursing program
- Certified registered nurse practitioner (CRNP) license
- Clinical leadership experience or advanced nurse practitioner certifications
- Prescriptive authority (the ability to legally prescribe medication)
Depending on your needs, you may also look for candidates with experience working with electronic health records (EHR) or a certain specialty.
Prepare a list of nurse practitioner interview questions
Here are some example questions you can use to interview nurse practitioner candidates:
- A patient comes to you who experiences sudden bouts of nausea. How do you proceed? — Questions like this help assess the applicant's hard skills, such as diagnosis, first-aid knowledge, critical thinking, patient care and bedside manner.
- Tell me about a time when you exceeded expectations for patient care. — This prompt can reveal information about the candidate’s values as a healthcare provider. You can gauge their work ethic, commitment and self-motivation and how they relate to your organization’s expectations.
- Describe a time that you had to work with a difficult coworker or patient. — This question will help you understand the candidate’s soft skills, such as conflict resolution, working relationships and professionalism.
Your interview should include behavioral interview questions and questions that assess hard and soft skills. By the end of the interview, you should have a better understanding of the candidate's technical skills, personality and past experience.
Choose the best-fit nurse practitioner candidate
When choosing a candidate to hire, make sure they can confidently perform the tasks required of the position and will fit into your organizational culture. In addition to the interview, check the candidate's references and conduct a consumer report — try one of the best background check sites — to learn more.
Your natural instincts can also tell you a lot about the candidate. Consider how patients and your other employees will feel about working with this nurse practitioner. Ultimately, choose a knowledgeable candidate that matches your organization's values.
Types of nurse practitioners for hire
Besides general nurse practitioners, many choose a nurse practitioner specialty. Some common types of specialized nurse practitioners include:
- Family nurse practitioner — Provides primary care to patients of all ages
- Adult-gerontology nurse practitioner — Has specific knowledge about helping aging patients
- Pediatric nurse practitioner — Provides either primary care or acute care to kids of all ages
- Neonatal nurse practitioner — Cares for infants and babies under two years old who were born prematurely or with a medical condition, most often working in neonatal intensive care units (NICUs)
- Acute care nurse practitioner — Provides care to patients with acute illnesses, such as in emergency rooms or inpatient hospital departments
- Psychiatric nurse practitioner — Provides mental healthcare
Nurse practitioner vs physician assistant
Nurse practitioners and physician assistants are both licensed healthcare workers that provide treatment, diagnose illnesses and prescribe medications while working with physicians. They also both complete graduate degrees and clinical training. Physician assistants, however, can attend a wider variety of master’s programs, while nurse practitioners must graduate from a nursing program.
Nurse practitioners have full practice authority, which legally allows them to provide patient care independently (although there are limitations in some states). On the other hand, physician assistants are required to work alongside a doctor. In addition, nurse practitioners have the opportunity to specialize, while physician assistants have a more general practice area.
Nurse practitioner vs doctor
Nurse practitioners and doctors have similar skill sets. Both roles require advanced education, but doctors have more ongoing education requirements, such as completing a Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) or Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (D.O.) degree.
Some states allow nurse practitioners to provide care independently, while others require a doctor's oversight. Both nurse practitioners and doctors may pursue a specialty, but doctors can choose from a wider selection of specialties than nurse practitioners.
Nurse practitioner vs RN (registered nurse)
Nurse practitioners and RNs are similar in that they both help treat illnesses and educate patients about their health. Nurse practitioners, however, must complete a graduate education beyond the associate’s or bachelor's degree required to become an RN.
RNs work under the supervision of a physician, whereas some nurse practitioners practice independently. Nurse practitioners can also take on higher levels of leadership and can prescribe medication.
Nurse practitioner FAQ
Why hire a nurse practitioner?
There are many benefits of hiring a nurse practitioner. A nurse practitioner can help during physician shortages and take on some of a doctor's responsibilities within your organization. They can see patients but also have the skills to handle paperwork and provide basic nursing services.
Because nurse practitioners can provide care similar to physicians, they can help increase the number of patients at your practice and provide more in-depth service to existing patients. Overall, they can take on a wide variety of responsibilities at a lower cost than hiring additional doctors.
What is the cost of hiring a nurse practitioner?
How much does a nurse practitioner make?
Where do nurse practitioners work?
Can a nurse practitioner prescribe medication?
Summary of Money’s how to hire nurse practitioners
Finding a nurse practitioner for hire doesn't have to be hard, although it does require some dedication to the recruitment process. Consider multiple recruitment strategies, including hiring internally, using the career page on your website, posting on job boards and reaching out to your professional network.
Hiring a nurse practitioner can be very helpful for private practices and larger healthcare facilities. They can help cover the workload of doctors and nurses alike, helping your organization grow.