Can You Really Accept that Nurse Practitioner Job?

Making realistic NP career moves 

There are a wealth of opportunities out there for job-seeking nurse practitioners. From unique practice settings to distinct patient populations and geographic location, the options for your career are endless.

To some nurse practitioners, the number of available career opportunities is exciting. One’s career might lead to city living in Los Angeles or a travel assignment in rural Wyoming. While conducting a nationwide, broad specialty job search may increase your career excitement, it’s essential to stay grounded as you explore your options. I’m sorry to say, your next job will also need to be practical.

Lately I’ve witnessed a number of nurse practitioners dreaming a little too big when it comes to employment. Or, in some cases, unable to find a job in their current location or setting of interest, exploring options they might not normally consider. While this isn’t in and of itself necessarily negative, some NPs end up committing to opportunities that aren’t feasible in the long run. Locking yourself in to a job that’s not a good fit or logistically unreasonable is never a good idea.

So, if you’re a nurse practitioner exploring employment options that are outside of the box, consider these things carefully to be sure your next career move makes sense.

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1. Relocation

Relocating may seem like an attractive or necessary option as you look for a nurse practitioner job. But, before you call the moving truck, think through the implications. What’s housing like in your new location? Will the cost of living be freeing or prohibitive? Living near the surf and sand in Southern California may sound attractive, but before you take a job near the beach, make sure you can afford to live nearby on your NP salary.

Cost of living, housing availability, living expenses, the cost of relocation and family/social implications are among the major categories some nurse practitioners neglect to consider before committing to a position. Start your job on a solid note by thinking through and planning your move in advance to make sure relocating is a realistic option.

2. Commute 

A lengthy commute can seem unavoidable. You may live in a rural area or be a new grad NP desperately searching for a job anywhere within driving distance. But, before you sign on the dotted line of your employment agreement, decide if the commute is actually sustainable. A few months into your job, driving an hour or more each way to work will get pretty old. Avoid talking yourself into a lengthy commute whenever possible. Chances are, you won’t last long in the position.

3. Schedule 

Nontraditional schedules can have perks. Working weekends means days off during the week to run errands or go out to eat without crowds. Working the night shift may mean you can avoid costly childcare expenses. Before you accept a position, evaluate the schedule to make sure it’s a practical fit for your day-to-day life. And, if the schedule is one that will work, make sure your exact hours are outlined in your employment agreement or at the very least memorialized in writing as in an email. This will make it more difficult for your boss to make unexpected changes to your hours later.

4. Job Description 

No job is perfect and its unlikely you’ll land your dream nurse practitioner position right out of school. You must make sure, however, that the job you accept is something you can realistically have some motivation and passion for. Accepting a position that’s not a good fit based on your clinical interests or on your career growth trajectory leads to job dissatisfaction and career doubt.

5. Company Culture 

Many healthcare facilities are well managed, supportive places to work and many are not. Carefully evaluate the management team, structure and company culture of the employers you interview with to determine if they’re a good fit. How are decisions made in the practice? How will your success as a nurse practitioner be measured? Who will you work closely with? What will sitting in that particular facility feel like on a day-to-day basis? Understanding these things during the interview process (start by asking these 7 questions) gives you a better idea of what you’re signing up for.


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