If you’ve recently been on the receiving end of a nurse practitioner job offer, congrats! While the chance to start a new opportunity is exciting don’t let your enthusiasm get in the way of critically thinking through your offer. Receiving a nurse practitioner job offer may seem like the end of your job search, but it’s really the beginning of a long process of soul-searching and analysis – even if you plan to accept the opportunity.
When you receive an offer for your next nurse practitioner opportunity, ask yourself the following questions to make sure you’re getting the best deal possible and that the position will deliver when it comes to your expectations.
Do you understand the scope of the position?
Just because your new job has the tile ‘nurse practitioner’ or ‘advanced practice nurse’ doesn’t mean you will be practicing to your full scope of abilities. An employer willing to hire regardless of your new grad status doesn’t necessarily mean your first NP position will be privy to on-the-job learning. If you aren’t sure about the answers to the following questions, get an idea before you accept the position.
- What activities will you be responsible for on a day to day basis? Does your position involve responsibilities aside from treating patients such as marketing or administrative duties?
- How many patients will you be expected to treat per hour?
- What does your schedule look like? Will you be expected to work holidays and/or weekend shifts? What about on-call responsibilities?
- How will your success be measured?
Seek clarification in regards to the scope of your job before accepting the offer. Don’t let yourself be the nurse practitioner who is surprised by what is or is not included in his or her job responsibilities.
Do the logistics of the position mesh with your personal life?
You may have landed your dream nurse practitioner position. This may mean the promise of an above average salary or a foot in the door of a difficult to enter specialty such as surgery or dermatology. Nurse practitioners often accept positions with professional motivations in mind neglecting to consider how the opportunity will mesh with personal life. A failure to consider such logistics can leave the NP burnt-out and shortly planing an exit strategy. Ask yourself the following questions to verify your professional and personal lives will pair well together.
- If you have children, how will your proposed schedule fit with childcare options in your area?
- How does your schedule match up to your sig-o’s? Does the combination leave you with enough time for each other and your family?
- How much time will you spend commuting each day to work? Does this seem practical long-term?
- If the position you have been offered has unpredictable scheduling, how will this affect your personal life? Can your family handle unplanned or unanticipated work hours and/or responsibilities?
- Are you prepared to make any sacrifices that come with working an unconventional schedule?
If red flags start to fly as you consider these questions, do some soul-searching to determine if this really is the nurse practitioner job for you.
Do benefits and salary meet your expectations?
Negotiating salary and benefits can be awkward and uncomfortable. But, if you find yourself underpaid as a nurse practitioner, chances are your dissatisfaction with your job will quickly grow. It’s much easier to talk money on the front end, when an employer extends you an offer. Negotiation is expected when accepting a job offer so, don’t hesitate to ask. Here are a few questions to ask yourself in anticipation of the nurse practitioner agreement negotiation process.
- How does the salary compare with the average nurse practitioner salary in your location and specialty?
- What kind of benefits are offered? When are you eligible to start receiving these benefits?
- Are expenses associated with working as a nurse practitioner covered as part of your benefits package (ex. licensing, certification, DEA license, continuing education and malpractice coverage)
- How do salary and benefits compare with other positions you have been offered if you are weighing multiple opportunities?
- Are additional benefits such as student loan repayment offered?
Asking an attorney to review your employment agreement is helpful in working through wording associated with salary and benefit structures. An attorney can also help give you the language you need to negotiate a more favorable agreement. The cost of legal fees will be outweighed by what you stand to gain by negotiating your pay.
How are bonus structures laid out?
Distrust and dissatisfaction can quickly build if you’re a nurse practitioner paid based on productivity and/or bonuses. Be certain you understand the metrics by which you will be paid before you accept a job. Ask yourself these questions in analyzing bonus or productivity structures associated with the position.
- How is productivity measured? Do I understand how this scoring system translates to a dollar amount on my paycheck?
- What is the average amount a nurse practitioner with my level of experience typically earns working for this employer with this productivity structure?
- How will the metrics of my bonus eligibility be calculated? Do I understand how this scoring system translates to a dollar amount on my bonus check?
- How frequently will bonuses be paid?
- What is the average amount a nurse practitioner with my level of experience typically receives from these bonuses working for this employer?
If you aren’t sure how productivity and bonus metrics are measured or how these metrics translate into a dollar amount on your paycheck, ask. Medical billing can be quite complicated. Understanding these intricacies is important to making sure your salary and bonus expectations are in line with reality.
Who’s in charge?
Depending on the size of the employer, as a nurse practitioner you can expect to have a chain of command over you. Your relationship with supervising physicians and administration is essential to your job satisfaction and is often overlooked in considering job opportunities.
- Have you met the individuals you will report to in the position?
- Do these individuals seem like people you would like to work with?
- If you are a newer nurse practitioner, how often will a supervising physician be on site to answer questions that will inevitably arise? Does the person you will report to seem like someone you can learn from?
- If you’re working solo as a nurse practitioner, is a more experienced NP or collaborating MD available by phone while you’re on duty?
If you haven’t met the individuals you will report most closely to, ask for a meet and greet before you sign an employment agreement on the dotted line.
Who will you be working with?
The attitude of your coworkers can make or break the workday. Company culture is of utmost importance in your job satisfaction. Get an idea as to the vibe around the workplace before accepting a new nurse practitioner opportunity. The following questions can help you assess a clinic or hospital’s work environment.
- What is the company culture like?
- Do fellow nurses, nurse practitioners and physician assistants feel supported in their role?
- Can you see yourself getting along well with the individuals working in the clinic or hospital that has extended you an offer?
A quick Google search can also give insight to these questions. The company’s mission statement and/or ‘About’ page often allude to company culture and values. Check out employee’s LinkedIn profiles. What is the impression you get?
How does the position help you reach your long-term goals?
As a nurse practitioner the scope of your job responsibilities may be quite similar for the long-term. Regardless, setting goals for your career is a must. Each and every career move you make should align with these goals in order to achieve them. Accepting a job as a retail health nurse practitioner, for example, won’t likely lend itself to an aspiration of working in the ICU. Ask yourself the following to determine if the position at hand has long-term, goal-achieving potential:
- Am I passionate about the patient population I will be working with?
- Am I genuinely interested in this specialty? If not, does it relate to the specialty in which I am trying to get an ‘in’?
- Does the company I am working with offer opportunities for growth as a nurse practitioner? (ex. higher acuity patient populations, other related specialties, procedural training, administrative growth potential)
Introspection is in order as you think about your career goals. Don’t let desperation for a paycheck cloud your judgment.