Practicing NPs

Whether you're a brand new NP or a seasoned NP, we have resources that can help you with your clinical practice. You've made it through school, but being a NP requires on-going education to grow as a provider. As as practicing NP you have to maintain certification, get state licensure, manage your debt (if you have it), prepare a professional resume to land your first job and attain required CE. As a new graduate, the transition from nurse to NP can be one of the most stressful and confusing times of your life. There are many steps you need to complete before you can practice as a NP. This can vary greatly depending on what state you live it, but we can help you with the basics. Let this page be a guide as a go-to resource to help you along the way. This page will be updated consistently with current national and board guidelines.


New NP Steps for Practice:                             

  1. Become nationally certified by the AANP or ANCC.    

  2. Obtain your state license & prescriptive authority from your states' BON

  3. Obtain your NPI number

  4. Obtain a federal DEA number


Established NP Steps for Practice:

  1. Maintain national certification through AANP or ANCC​

  2. Complete CE requirements based on your national and state certification requirements

  3. Maintain your RN licensure per your state guidelines

  4. Renew your DEA license 

After you accept a job, facilities have a credentialing process that has to be completed in order for you to fully practice in that area. The credentialing process verifies your credentials and assesses your background. It is also needed to get you on the insurance networks (private, Medicare, Medicaid) so you can treat those patients. 


National Provider Number (NPI)

The Administrative Simplification provisions of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA)mandated the adoption of a standard unique identifier for health care providers. The National Plan and Provider Enumeration System (NPPES) collects identifying information on health care providers and assigns each a unique National Provider Identifier (NPI)

  • The application is free

  • It is simple and quick (usually within 24 hours) to obtain

  • Use your employer's address so your personal address is not publicly displayed 

  • You need an NPI number before applying for a DEA number

Federal DEA Number

Steps for application: ​

  1. Fill out DEA Form 224: New Application for Retail Pharmacy, Hospital/Clinic, Practitioner, Teaching Institution, or Mid-Level Practitioner

  2. Fee: $731 every 3 years

  3. This must be done AFTER you receive prescriptive authority in your state.

Nursing Compact States

You may not want to practice in the same state as your school, so it's helpful to know that there is compact licensure within some states. Check the map below to see if your state is included under the Nurse Licensure Compact. 


Become Nationally Certified (AANP or AANC) and Maintain Certification 

You can sign-up to begin the application process of taking your exam before you have completed your NP program. The time period varies depending on which certifying board you plan to test with. 


MSN students may begin the application process as early as 6 months and DNP students may begin the application process as early as 1 year prior to completion of their program. For more information on the AANP application process, read the FAQs here


Its unclear exactly when you can begin the application process to sit for the ANCC board exam, but as I remember, the process to get my authorization to sit for my exam did not take long at all. You can find information regarding the application process and sitting for the exam here

Full Practice Authority

In 22 states (and counting!) NPs are able to practice within their full scope without restrictions. If you're lucky enough to live in one of those states, you can open your own practice without physician oversight. Here is the updated map of State Practice Environment in the U.S. and surrounding territories. 


It's important to know what your particular exam breakdown is before you test. Always check out the updated exam blueprint for your specific board exam. 

Nurse Practitioner Exam Blueprints

The AANP FNP Blueprint can be found here.

The AANP AGNP Blueprint can be found here.

The ANCC FNP Blueprint can be found here



The ANCC AGPCNP Blueprint can be found here.


Posts to read:

How much do nurse practitioners make? 

Are you thinking about becoming a nurse practitioner? It’s a good time to consider the nurse practitioner profession. The nurse practitioner career was ranked # 2 in The top 100 Best Jobs in U.S. News and World Reports, only behind dentists at #1[...]

Resources I Use as a Nurse Practitioner

Becoming a nurse practitioner is not easy and neither are the first few years of practice. When I graduated school, I felt like a fish out of water in my new role although I came in with over a decade of nursing experience by that point [...] 

Creating a Nurse Practitioner Binder

After graduating from FNP school I realized that becoming a nurse practitioner involves a lot of paperwork! Not just the paperwork from your notes in class, but to maintain your licensure and credentials once you are in practice [...]

Nurse Practitioner Residency Programs

After graduation from NP school, you have options for residency programs that will help you become more comfortable practicing or help you to gain training in a specific sub-speciality. NP residency programs are not required to practice as an NP, but they would be nothing but helpful for your future career if you are accepted into one. Here are a list of resources for NP residency programs. 

Nurse Practitioner Residency Training Program

Nurse Practitioner Fellowship and Residency Programs

NP residency articles to read:

Postgraduate Nurse Practitioner Programs: Supporting Transition to Practice 

The 2010 Institute of Medicine report The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health recommends residency programs for nurses in three specific areas [...]

Are Residencies the Future of Nurse Practitioner Training?

When Beth Goldstein finished her nurse practitioner training at UCSF a couple of years ago, the thought of seeing patients completely on her own made her a little jittery. She was licensed to provide primary care and confident in her skills [...]


Finding a Job as a NP

Finding a job as a new graduate and even as an experienced NP can be daunting sometimes. Here are some job boards I have used to find NP jobs: I'm a big fan of Indeed and like the interface of the website. You can search for jobs that meet your specifications and set job alerts. 

Glassdoor: Glassdoor is another job board that is really user-friendly. I have gotten a couple of jobs from positions I've seen on Glassdoor. 

Linked In: I'm fairly new to using Linked In for job searches, but the platform allows employers to come to you. Make sure your profile is updated. There is also an option to pay for premium membership for job seekers that allows you extra features to help with your job search. 



Don't forget your local (state and city) professional NP chapters and your Alma Mater for job opportunities as well.  

Resume and Cover letter Templates

Is your resume ready for a job search? It can be hard to stand out in a saturated market, but don't let your resume be the reason you can't get the job you want. I've created resume and cover letter templates that will help get you noticed! I have a template for new grads, experienced NPs and NPs who are stepping out to look for a creative job (such as a consultant, writer, or speaker, etc.)

All templates are fully-editable available in MS Word and Pages format for those who use a Mac OS. You can use all templates as a 1 or 2 page resume, with the exception of the Creative resume. And to make everything easy for you, I've included an instruction sheet and given tips on how to fill out your resume so employers will take notice. 

Here's a recap of what you'll get with each template

  • 1-page and 2-page resume options (not including "Creative" template) including NEW Grad options! 

  • Cover letter template for each resume

  • Everything is fully editable to customize to your specific needs

  • Detailed and easy to follow instruction sheet

  • Hints and tips for filling out your resume

  • Each template available in Word and Pages format

  • All this for $11.99 each!

Take a look at the fully-customized resume and cover letter templates below: 






Continuing Education

When you become an NP it's important that you keep up with your CEs. You'll need them for both your RN licensure and your NP licensure. Each state is different regarding CE requirements for RN licensure and the NP boards (ANCC and AANP) have separate requirements. Nine times out of ten your NP CE requirements for recertification will apply to your RN requirements. As of now, the AANP need 75 hours of CE hours AND 25 hours of pharmacology CE hours for a total of 100 CE's over the course of 5 years, while the ANCC requires 75 CE hours with 25 of those hours being in pharmacology. The CE hours may not be the only requirement for recertification for your specific board exam, so be sure to check out the website before you need to renew. 

For ANCC recertification requirements click here.

For AANP recertification requirements click here.

There are many ways to get your CE requirements met and it's fairly easy to meet (or exceed) the 5 year requirements. Here are a few of my favorite ways to get my CE requirements met!  


Aside from going to specialty-specific conferences and using my free (employer-provided) Up-toDate subscription, I use Audio Digest so I can listen to lectures during my commute, while on a walk, or while I'm cleaning up the house. Aside from the convenience factor, this year with the purchase of the Silver package, I got back a $500 dollar gift card! BTW, if you click on my referral link above, you'll be eligible to get back a $100 gift card after your first purchase (Don't be alarmed when it mentions my first name)! When you negotiate for your job(s) make sure you get a robust CE reimbursement package so you can take advantage of deals like this. 


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