Does it Matter Which Nurse Practitioner School You Go to?

Written By: Andrea Mosher, CPNP, PMHS

Are you ready to further your nursing education? Congratulations! Deciding to go back to nurse practitioner (NP) school is a daunting decision to make, but the task of making big decisions isn’t over yet. Now, you have to decide where you would like to apply and what school is right for you. Does it matter which nurse practitioner school you go to?

Depending on your goals and aspirations, it does matter. If your career goals are in research, teaching at the university level, or working in a specialized clinic, your school of choice will most certainly play a role in your job search and hiring process. Here are the top 10 benefits that you can experience by attending a prestigious NP school.

What Are The Benefits Of Going To A Prestigious Nurse Practitioner School?

(Following are the top 10 benefits of attending a prestigious nurse practitioner school.)

1. Better Connections with Local and Affiliated Healthcare Facilities

A benefit of going to a prestigious NP school is the strong connections you can make. Most prestigious NP schools have affiliated with their own healthcare systems, or they have a healthcare system locally. Attending a program with a healthcare system affiliation can lead to more robust career networks and references after graduation. Connections are essential regardless of the career path that you are on, but in healthcare, some areas may be oversaturated with quality applicants. A strong network helps you stand out in the crowd of other applicants or connect you to a never-posted position.


2. Advanced Laboratory and Simulation Experiences

Renowned NP schools have a variety of specialties available, as well as other healthcare programs. A large student pool allows them to offer more prominent and more up-to-date laboratory and simulation experiences. Although simulation and lab experiences are different than real-life experiences, they will enable students to be more prepared for situations in their clinical rotations.

3. Additional Curriculum Opportunities Outside of Core Curriculum

All NP programs have a core curriculum for accreditation, but more distinguished programs may offer courses outside of the typical classes. When I attended the University of Michigan, in addition to the usual clinical experiences, they also provided an international clinical in Thailand. This clinical provided me with experiences and lessons that no domestic clinical experience could have ever taught me. If I hadn’t attended a more extensive NP program, I would not have had the opportunity to have this experience outside of the core curriculum.

4. More Options for Clinical Placement

Finding a clinical placement can be difficult for NP students. Reputable NP programs often have close affiliations with clinical sites, which is one of the top benefits of attending a prestigious nurse practitioner school. These sites are more open to taking students, especially if previous students are well prepared. With today’s lack of clinical options, some students are now offering to pay for clinical placements! It is a massive weight off of your shoulders, not worrying if you will be able to get your clinical hours to keep you on track for graduation.

5. Assistance with Clinical Placement

As I previously mentioned, esteemed NP programs have well-established relationships with local clinics and hospitals and most likely will assign you a clinical site. In my experience, if a student had a clinical site or a preceptor they wanted to work with, the school would provide the appropriate paperwork for a clinical rotation. If you did not have a specific connection and needed assistance with clinical placement, the faculty would make the connections for you.

6. Increased Faculty Accomplishments and Experience

Another benefit of going to a prestigious nurse practitioner school is their teaching faculty with higher accomplishments and more experience. Increased experience typically makes them better educators and they have a wealth of knowledge that you may not necessarily get in other programs. Additionally, they can connect you to other faculty and staff within the school for more educational experiences or career opportunities.

7. More Prepared Students

Prestigious NP schools pride themselves on creating well-prepared graduates. This may make the program more demanding and stringent for you as a student, but it will be beneficial in the long run of your career. Additionally, having a reputation of creating more prepared students encourages clinical sites to accept their students. Again, having plenty of clinical sites to choose from is so important!

8. Program Formatting Options

More often than not, as an NP student, you are still a full-time or part-time nurse. A program offering the flexibility for you to choose part-time, full-time, or partially online is necessary to continue your work-life balance. In my experience, I was able to attend part-time, take some classes online, and group my campus classes into a few days per week. Having these formatting options allowed me to continue to work full-time and fit clinical hours around my classes. Smaller programs typically do not offer this benefit as their class cohorts are too small.

9. Additional Resources

Similar to having better laboratory and simulation experiences, an esteemed NP program can offer additional resources that another program doesn’t. They may provide special libraries, online resources, or even career resources. Career resources provided to me by the University of Michigan also included guest lectures where contracts, negotiations, and what to expect as a new nurse practitioner were discussed.

10. Increased Board Pass Rate

Finally, one of the most significant benefits of going to a prestigious nurse practitioner school is an increased board pass rate. High pass rates reflect on their ability to create well-prepared students. Boards are intimidating and expensive; passing on the first try will make your life and job hunt that much easier.

Are There Any Disadvantages Of Going To A Prestigious Nurse Practitioner School?

There are a variety of benefits of attending a prestigious NP school. However, there are two notable disadvantages of attending a prestigious nurse practitioner school: cost and location. The increased cost of attending a prestigious nurse practitioner school can be a double-edged sword. Yes, you have to pay more out of pocket for your education, but typically, those funds are allocated for better educational resources. Additionally, another disadvantage to attending a prestigious NP school is its location. Naturally, if you don’t live in or near the school’s city, you may have to commute or move to attend. Schools of this caliber do not usually offer completely online programs. So, it’s up to you to decide if all the advantages of attending a prestigious NP school outweigh the pitfalls.

Do Employers Really Care Which NP School You Went To?

Depending on the job you are applying for, some employers do care which NP school you attended. If you are looking to work in academia or research, your education history will be important to your employer. Additionally, if you apply to work in specialized care or at an esteemed hospital system or clinic, an employer will care if you attended a prestigious NP school. However, the most crucial part of your education isn’t whether or not you went to a notable school or not, but your performance at school. Employers do care if you applied yourself to your studies and what campus activities you were involved in.

The Bottom Line

So, does it really matter which nurse practitioner school you go to? In many instances it does matter if you attend a prestigious NP school. Nonetheless, it is up to you to decide whether the top ten benefits of attending a distinguished NP program outweigh the disadvantages. It truly comes down to you, your career goals, and what is vital to your education. If you have no interest in research, academia, or a specialized clinic, having a degree from a renowned program may not be as important as cost and location. Alternatively, if your lifelong goal is to graduate from a prestigious school and the benefits of attending a respected college outweigh the disadvantages, then, by all means, go for it!

Andrea Mosher, CPNP, PMHS
Andrea Mosher, CPNP, is a primary care pediatric nurse practitioner with a variety of nursing experience. She has worked in medical-surgical, emergency departments, urgent care and primary care pediatrics.