Nurse Practitioner Residency Programs and Fellowships

Nurse practitioner residency and fellowship programs are post-graduate jobs that are specially designed to offer additional training in a specialty or sub-specialty area of advanced practice nursing. They ease the transition to regular APRN positions or offer additional specialty expertise to hone your skills in particular focus areas.

 

Nurse and patient in Nurse practitioner residency program setting

Advance practice nursing is a tough job and it takes intensive study to get ready for it. You had to earn a master of science in nursing or even a doctor of nursing practice to qualify for licensure and board certification, but honestly that was just the start.

There’s just so much real-world knowledge needed in this job that it can be overwhelming to make the jump from academics to real-world practice. And there’s even more of a gap between general practice and the kind of advanced specialty work that goes into becoming an oncology nurse practitioner, for example, or working in other similarly specialized roles.

Filling those gaps are what advance practice residency and fellowship positions are designed for.


What is The Difference Between Fellowship and Residency Programs?

Nurse Practitioner Residency Programs and Transition to Practice

Advanced Practice Nursing Residency and Fellowships by Specialization and State for 2021

Pediatric Nurse Practitioner Residency and Fellowship Programs

Cardiology Nurse Practitioner Fellowship Programs

Family Nurse Practitioner Residency and Fellowship Programs

Acute Care Nurse Practitioner Fellowship Programs

Surgical and Critical Care Nurse Practitioner Fellowship Programs

Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner Fellowship Programs

Psychiatric/Mental Health Nurse Practitioner Residency and Fellowship Programs

Palliative Care and Oncology Nurse Practitioner Fellowship Programs

Orthopedics Nurse Practitioner Fellowship Programs

Neurology Nurse Practitioners Fellowship and Residency Programs

Other Nurse Practitioner Specialty Fellowship and Residency Programs


In a world where nurse practitioners are increasingly being called on to cover for physician shortages, residencies and fellowships are becoming more and more important to fill in the skills gap between the two professions. The typical physician comes out the other side of medical training with more than 15,000 hours of clinical experience. A typical NP may only have one-tenth of that when they are dropped into their first job.

Residencies and fellowships are real jobs with real pay and benefits for Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRN), but they only last about a year.

During that year, though, you get the kind of real-world, hands-on training that builds both your confidence and your expertise in your chose APRN specialty.

Even assuming the best nursing education in the world, those hours matter in developing clinical expertise. Fellowships and residencies help fill that gap for nurse practitioners and for the healthcare community.

What is The Difference Between Fellowship and Residency Programs?

It’s easier to understand these terms if you understand where they come from. Being familiar with the medical model of training, the people who developed APRN training consciously or sub-consciously borrowed terminology from the world of physician education.

There, doctors are all required to complete residencies immediately after their graduation from medical school, almost always in their field of specialization. A fellowship is an optional follow-on to residency, one that offers even deeper specialization in their field of practice. For example, a doctor might do their residency in internal medicine. Then, optionally, they could take on a fellowship in hematology, specializing in blood-borne diseases and treatments. Both residencies and fellowships are training positions, not permanent postings.

In nursing, the same general pattern applies.

A residency is a short-term educational position in a nursing specialty area, such as primary care or family practice… A fellowship is also a temporary position, but one drilling down into more specialized topics like oncology or emergency medicine.

Unlike doctors, these placements are not critical to licensing for APRNs. The terms and training also might not be as consistent because of this. Also, unlike doctors, it’s not necessary to complete a residency before applying for fellowships. While you need more experience to get into the average fellowship, that experience doesn’t necessarily have to come through a residency program.

What this all means is that it’s important to look at your options for both residencies and fellowships for nurse practitioners. Both could be in play to give you the combination of general practice area, patient population and specialty-specific training you might be interested in.

What Type of Post-Graduate Program Should You Consider as a Nurse Practitioner?

The landmark Institute of Medicine report “The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health” recommended both residencies and fellowships to increase the professionalism of nurse practitioners and shore up some problems in the profession. In particular, nursing residencies were seen as a way to give new graduates more clinical experience in a specialty area while under supervision and to increase retention rates among new NPs.

Residencies are a great fit for any recent graduate with an MSN or DNP.

Fellowships are there to build your expertise in a specific sub-specialty of practice. They’re often a better fit for NPs who have a couple years experience under their belt. It’s typically at that point in your career that you start figuring out exactly what it is you need to learn more about. Fellowships are where you get that knowledge.

In other cases, fellowships can be more aimed at research than practice. This still offers a high level of training in the sub-specialty, but the focus will be on developing theoretical knowledge rather than honing hands-on direct patient care skills.

You will also find fellowships here that are not exclusive to nurse practitioners. Depending on the specialty in question, a fellowship might be open to doctors, nurses, and even non-clinicians.

Nurse Practitioner Residency Programs and Transition to Practice

two nurses

A master of science in nursing is a path to advanced practice licensure, but any NP will tell you that when you graduate, you still have a long way to go before you’re fully prepared for anything the job might throw at you.

Residency programs provide an easier transition between academia and the stress and pressure of real-world advanced practice nursing.

A residency program offers you a paying job for a certain amount of time. You are expected to perform the work of an APRN, but you are also expected to learn better how to do that work. Residencies are closely supervised by expert practitioners to guide you through the transition into full independent practice.

Nursing theory is extraordinarily important in defining the APRN role. All the training and classroom education you receive in an MSN program is a core feature. Advanced practice nurses take on levels of care that approach doctors in some respects, but they aren’t the same job. You don’t just learn the mechanics of how to care for patients at an advanced level, but also the conceptual differences that make nursing care the holistic practice that it is.

Translating that theory into day-to-day practice takes work, though. And it’s work that gets easier when expert supervisors from residency programs can walk you through it.

Preceptorships and Mentorships Offer Individualized Supervision to Residents and Fellows

You might be wondering how exactly it is that you get all this advanced training we keep talking about. A residency or fellowship isn’t like a college class, after all. It’s on-the-job training.

A lot of the magic of that training comes through mentors and preceptors.

A preceptor is a senior nurse practitioner that is assigned to new fellows or residents for a period of time, maybe even the entire period of residency. They are the model to follow for observing and picking up key job skills, ward policies and practices, and techniques. They explain processes, act as an available resource to answer questions, and introduce you to other staff and help you settle in professionally.

A mentor is often a less formal advisor, a senior colleague who you develop a personal and professional relationship with and who you can turn to for advice in a wide range of subjects. Sometimes mentors are assigned, but usually they come from relationships that just emerge on the job. They might stick with you for an entire fellowship or residency, or you could end up keeping them on speed dial through your entire career.

The combination of those roles represents many of the real advantages of the residency and fellowship process. Ultimately, it’s that human connection that provides the critical piece to assimilating knowledge. It’s through those relationships that knowledge is transferred in the course of these programs.

 

How Difficult Is it to Find an Opening in a Nurse Practitioner Residency or Fellowship Program?

Because residencies and fellowships aren’t widespread in the nursing world, it can be a challenge to land a spot in one.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), somewhere between 30,000 and 40,000 people graduated with master’s degrees or doctorates in nursing specialties in 2018. Not all of those graduates are bound for advanced practice nursing, but probably the majority are.

In contrast, you can see that there are fewer than 200 residency and fellowship programs available for post-graduate study. If you pare it down by your specialty interests, it’s far fewer. And many of these programs admit only a handful of residents or fellows each year.

Putting the numbers together, you can see that you’re looking at some stiff competition if you want to get your foot in the door at one of these advanced training programs.

What Are the Requirements to Get Into a Residency or Fellowship For Nurse Practitioners?

With the stiff competition for these slots, you might be surprised to find that the entry requirements are not too bad. Like medical residencies and fellowships, there is usually a fixed term, which means you have one shot per year to get your application in, often by early spring for a fall start date.

Between the two, residencies are easier to qualify for. They are aimed at recent graduates. In fact, you might need to apply within a year or 18 months of graduating from your MSN or DNP program. You do usually need to have a state license already, and sometimes third-party certification in the correct specialty area.

Fellowships are more demanding. You’ll need multiple letters of recommendation, a CV showing some commitment to specialty practice in the field and several years of experience, and you’ll usually need an essay or personal statement of your goals. And you’ll definitely need national board certification in your specialty areas.

Is There a Post-Employment Requirement for Nursing Residency or Fellowship Programs?

Nursing residencies are a kind of apprenticeship, and so there is often a commitment that comes with them that you remain employed with the organization for a year or so after your residency is complete.

Fellowships do not typically have any ongoing requirements to stay onboard. In fact, their goal is to get you out the door to spread that knowledge, and free up the spot to get another healthcare professional the training and experience they need.

Advanced Practice Nursing Residency and Fellowships By Specialization and State for 2021

Below you’ll find the most current list of available residency and specialty programs for APRNs in the United States for 2021. The programs are grouped together by specialty, and then listed by state. In many cases, you’ll find that states may only have one program in a given specialty, and sometimes none at all. To find the right fit, you’ll have to shop around.

It pays to check with other resources to find residency and fellowship openings. In some cases, you’ll find them listed on regular job boards, such as the American Association of Nurse Practitioners Job Center, along with other types of NP positions.

Pediatric Nurse Practitioner Residency and Fellowship Programs

Cardiology Nurse Practitioner Fellowship Programs

Family Nurse Practitioner Residency and Fellowship Programs

Acute Care Nurse Practitioner Fellowship Programs

Surgical and Critical Care Nurse Practitioner Fellowship Programs

Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner Fellowship Programs

Psychiatric/Mental Health Nurse Practitioner Residency and Fellowship Programs

Palliative Care and Oncology Nurse Practitioner Fellowship Programs

Orthopedics Nurse Practitioner Fellowship Programs

Neurology Nurse Practitioners Fellowship and Residency Programs

Other Nurse Practitioner Specialty Fellowship and Residency Programs

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