Nurse practitioners graduate with either a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) or a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree. They must pass a national board certification exam and become licensed in the state in which they will practice. Unlike most physicians, nurse practitioners are currently not required to attend a formal residency program.
Residencies are a stage in clinical education where a nurse practitioner provides patient care under the supervision of either a physician or another nurse practitioner while being paid a salary. These days, physician residents typically earn $53,000 and $62,000 depending on their specialty (Medscape 2015). Average pay for nurse practitioner residents is unknown, but there is a glaring difference between the two types of programs: NP residencies lack federal funding from sources such as the Centers for Medicare, whereas physician residencies receive this support. This may change in coming years through advocacy efforts of people such as Dr. Margaret Flinter, who founded the country’s first NP residency program and established the basic design. NP residencies feature specialty clinical rotations, supervised hours, and opportunities to serve at partner clinics to diversify experience. As of August 2016, there were 38 of these programs nationwide (MedPage Today 2016).
Although residency programs are not required for nurse practitioners, new graduates may pursue them to enhance their abilities, strengthen their resume, or learn a new subspecialty. Often the term ‘residency’ refers to programs designed to improve skills and seek board certification, while a ‘fellowship’ is designed to teach a subspecialty. Since these programs are relatively new and are still being developed for NPs, there’s still some debate in the NP community over the use of these terms.
Semantics aside, nurse practitioner residencies and fellowships are becoming increasingly popular as hospitals attempt to attract top talent. Below you’ll find a list of nurse practitioner residency programs organized by specialty.