One perk employers may offer to nurse practitioners is a bonus in addition to a base salary. For some NPs a bonus is an extra but not a substantial part of the compensation package. For other nurse practitioners, bonuses can potentially amount to tens of thousands of dollars each year in addition to a base salary. Despite the potential for extra cash, many nurse practitioners are skeptical of such compensation structures. Do you believe your bonus will be paid?
The first position I accepted as a new grad NP offered a bonus based on productivity. Unfamiliar with the inner workings of medical billing and how to evaluate and negotiate an employment agreement in general, I signed on the dotted line. Always an over-achiever and efficient worker, I assumed I would easily reach bonus-level productivity in my new position. When fourth quarter came, however, I was disappointed.
To this day I’m not sure exactly how the practice’s bonus structure was calculated, or if the process was more subjective than objective. I do know that back in the office my nurse practitioner coworkers often lamented that they too felt they deserved this elusive bonus. Even experienced NPs seemed to be missing out on this payout.
Talking with nurse practitioners from across the country, I have come to realize that my experience is not unique. NPs often tell me they feel they have been duped in regards to bonuses alluded to in the interview process but that never seem to be paid out. Nurse practitioners seem wary of compensation based on productivity or bonuses, most preferring flat hourly or salaried agreements regardless of their productivity potential. ‘Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.’ seems to be the attitude of experienced NPs looking for new employment toward prospective employers bolstering job postings with the promise of the potential for extra cash.
Most employers have nurse practitioner’s best interests in mind. A few, however, seem inclined to misrepresent the likelihood of the NP to receive compensation in addition to a base salary. If you are interviewing for a job with the possibility for intermittent bonuses, you must understand these key factors to determine your chances for meeting bonus criteria as well as make sure you are adequately represented in your employment agreement:
- What objective criteria is the bonus based upon (ex. RVUs, number of patients, time with the company)?
- Are there any subjective criteria included in determining how much and/or how bonuses are paid?
- Understand how both these objective and subjective criteria will be measured
- What was the average bonus received by currently employed nurse practitioners in the company for the last calendar year? What is the average bonus amount for newly hired NPs in their first year of practice?
Entering an employment agreement informed keeps your expectations on par with reality. If expectations are clear and a bonus structure well laid out by the employer, you are likely to maintain satisfaction with your position whether you obtain the maximum possible bonus, or not. Signing an employment agreement without clearly delineating bonus criteria potentially leaves you with unrealistic expectations as to your salary and can poison the relationship with your employer when these expectations are not met.
Do you believe your bonus will be paid? Do you feel that you have ever been treated unfairly by an employer in regards to receiving a bonus?
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