– The Pros and Cons –

It’s always a difficult question when you are faced with multiple candidates for the same position. It may seem like a no-brainer to hire the experienced candidate, but there is a lot to say for rookies as well. Everyone has to be a rookie at some time; so should you give them the benefit of the doubt or stick with the tried-and-true person — but what if they won’t be able to adapt or fit into the culture of the unit? Hmm…the plot thickens. Here are some important things to consider before making your decision.


The Pros for Experienced NNPs

Experienced NNPs have so much potential. Let’s face it, they do know what they’re doing and have the potential to quickly acclimate to the unit. This brings out many positive benefits:

  • Much less time, energy, and resources to train.
  • Can quickly fill a staffing requirement with ease.
  • An immediate resource to the rest of the team due to their training.
  • Brings outside experience to the team with different ideas and practices. This is helpful if the team has been the same for many years because stagnation can occur. If all they know is all they know — there is no growth potential for the unit.


The Pros for Talented Rookies

It may seem odd that a talented rookie would be beneficial, but they really can be quite helpful to a unit. Here’s why:

  • Less expensive to hire (lower end of the pay grade).
  • Clean slate: no bad habits so you can train the NNP the way you want them to perform the role there.
  • Their education is current so brings more current insight into the role and more current evidence-based practice to the table.
  • Hungry and eager to learn about how your unit operates and the latest medical advances that you can offer to your patients.


The Cons for Experienced NNPs

One of the first concerns when hiring an experienced NNP is the budgetary requirement. Yes, simply put, an experienced candidate is going to be more expensive. They will want a larger salary, benefits, and perks that a newly graduated NNP may not know to ask for when applying. These demands must be taken into careful consideration.

Humans are creatures of habit, and they love to do tasks their way. NNPs are no exception here. It can be very difficult breaking habits from the last place(s) they worked if their role was different. Questions such as “Why do you do things that way” or comments like “When I was at my other facility we always did it this way.”  This can create a lot of friction between the experienced NNP and the staff. Sometimes it is humorous, but other times, it just feels demeaning and the other staff may feel very upset.

Another huge concern is the pecking order in the unit. Most new employees want to prove themselves and show (in a prideful way) that they do know what they’re doing. If you already have a strong order of doing things, bringing in another powerful employee can create a lot of difficulty for the NICU and lower morale.


The Cons for Talented Rookies

Most people say it takes a minimum of one year (and sometimes two) for a new NNP to really get comfortable on the unit. This year is very expensive for budgetary expenses. It is especially difficult during orientation times because the schedule tends to double up. This stretches the schedule even thinner making for less flexibility in scheduling for the rest of the team

A new employee can create potential frustration from the rest of the staff. They may be required to do more work than they can handle, and their time-off requests may be denied due to low staffing.

One concern for hiring an NNP, who was once an RN in the unit, is a role-confusion factor. Think of it this way: On Friday they were an RN, and now today they are an NNP. On one level, hiring one of your own may sound like a wise decision, but perception becomes reality and with this new reality may come with some management frustration.

Another such situation is possible Rank and Power-control. It is difficult to plan for, but a good manager must be aware of this. It can be easy for a former co-worker to think “Oh, you were one of us but now you’re better than us?” or “I’m a 20 year Staff NICU and last week I was telling you what to do…and now you’re gonna tell me what to do?” Changes in staffing can cause hurt feelings within a unit, so be cautious and consider how your staff will adapt before hiring a talented rookie. 



The question of whether you should hire a talented rookie or an experienced NNP is not a simple one with an easy answer. You should take some serious time and consider the budgetary requirements and how the individual’s personality and attitude will affect the unit.


What factors do you use to decide which candidate is best for your unit when hiring? Have you found that rookies or experienced are better?
Shout out in the comments; we’d love to learn together!