If you’re having a difficult time recruiting exceptional NNPs, there’s a good reason.

For the last several years, community hospitals have suffered a national shortage of qualified NNPs.  At the same time, research predicts that, by 2022, the demand for qualified NNPs will grow by 33% — higher than average for nursing positions.

The future doesn’t look bright.

If you do the math, the gap between staffing needs and available talent will continue to widen throughout the coming years.

What happened?

For one thing, the number of NNP graduates has remained fairly static over the past several years, despite a significant demand for their services.

In fact, our research indicates that, from 2007 to 2011, 40% of NNP educational programs saw a decrease in enrollment and 25% experienced a decrease in graduates.

Additionally, NNP programs are suffering from a shortage of instructors and faculty members.  Not good news for today’s potential pool of qualified candidates.

Plus, the demands on the NNP role have increased due to restrictions and changes in pediatric residency requirements. With fewer medical and pediatric graduates spending time in NICU rotation, more work is heaped upon NNPs— thus impacting the attrition rate within this profession.

What can be done?

Families of high-risk and critically ill newborns deserve the proper care that only a neonatal nurse practitioner can offer. It’s up to us to strengthen our efforts and develop more innovative ways to recruit talented nurse practitioners.

Right-place, right-time recruiting

  • Strike while the iron is hot: Some nurses decide to pursue an advanced education in neonatology while studying and practicing to be RNs. Needless to say, this is a critical time to target and implement robust recruitment efforts to this niche audience.
  • Pursue partnerships: Collaborating with nursing and medical educational programs can help you develop and execute new ways to increase enrollments across all practices.  
  • Get out there & start talking: Your front-line NNPs should be speaking at nursing education forums frequently, sharing the awe-inspiring, real-life work experiences that continue to enrich their lives.

Understand that it’s not (necessarily) about the money

True, NNPs tend to make higher salaries than NPs. But that’s not why nurses choose this path: the number one draw is the opportunity to work with critically ill newborns and their families.

Additionally, studies show that NNP job satisfaction may be contributed, in large part, to the following perceptions and experiences:

  • Increased autonomy
  • Inclusion in decision making
  • Working with a collaborative team
  • Inter-professional respect for the role
  • Increased status

Make sure that you and your NNPs reinforce these attributes when reaching out to potential candidates.

Appeal to candidates based on the emotional motivators of the profession

Sharing the joy of birth with parents and their healthy newborns can be deeply gratifying to the soul. When meeting with students and potential candidates, feel free to share the overwhelming emotional and spiritual rewards that come with the work, as many NNPs have shared with us:

“When I go to work, I am amazed at how I fall in love with my job all over again…. Life just doesn’t get any better!!”

“I love the supportive nature of everyone I work with, the NPs and doctors recognize that once you’ve spent a 12-hour shift with a baby, YOU are the one they should be asking about

[his] needs!”

“I have been working in the NICU for 16 years and love every minute of it. There’s not a shift that goes by in which I don’t learn something.”

“… that mother will always remember that you were the first one that handed her baby to her, just as you’ll never forget the joy in her face as she held him.”

Neonatal nurse practitioners have enjoyed a long and respected legacy. Sustaining this role is imperative, though complicated. Luckily, we can get there together, through strategic planning, aggressive recruitment campaigns and the willingness to recognize and alleviate current barriers.


Have questions about avoiding or shoring up a talent shortage in your facility? Call ENSEARCH today at 888.NNP.JOBS.

Locum Tenens NNP Placement