One of the common frustrations of life as a nurse practitioner is that the work schedule may not be as flexible as it is with other occupations. We almost always treat patients in person so working from home isn’t an option. And, appointments are scheduled far in advance making it difficult to shift around our work days or hours. We all have commitments and interests outside of work that make a flexible schedule desirable. So, how do you land employment as a nurse practitioner that still allows you the flexibility to tend to the things life throws your way?
There are a number of ways for NPs to secure more flexible employment both outside of and within traditional practice settings. Here are a few to consider.
While telehealth certainly has its limitations, it is a growing field. There are a number of companies out there that hire NPs to consult with patients remotely. While you’ll still have face-to-face conversations, at least virtually, often telehealth translates to working from home. Some companies like Maven, even offer flexible work hours allowing nurse practitioners to accept consultations on an as-needed basis.
2. Health Insurance Companies
Health insurance companies like Cigna and Blue Cross hire nurse practitioners for a number of different roles. These range from reviewing claims to consulting with patients or even being involved in higher level management positions. While these positions tend to be more along the lines of 8am to 5pm office jobs, they can afford some of the flexibility that goes along with the corporate office environment such as occasional work from home opportunities.
Nurse practitioners can consult on a variety of different issues depending on their areas of expertise. One predominate area is the legal arena. Legal nurse consultants work with attorneys or insurance companies in any kind of medical/legal case. Some NPs make this a full time job taking on a number of cases each year. Others accept a case here and there as supplemental income. Consulting can offer a flexible way to use your NP knowledge and earn a paycheck.
4. PRN Employment
Piecing together PRN employment in multiple facilities is one tactic I’ve used to create flexibility within the traditional hospital environment. I let employers know when I’m available to work and accept those shifts that fit with my schedule. While this tactic doesn’t come with perks like benefits or paid time off, it does ensure that I’m free to take time away from the clinical setting when I need it. Just be aware that keeping up with credentialing at multiple facilities can be challenging at times.
5. Work in Student Health
There are a number of non-traditional employment situations out there that translate to a flexible schedule. Nurse practitioners working in student health at universities, for example, get summers off as well as holiday breaks. While this also means only being paid for about nine months of work, for some flexibility is priceless.
6. Traditional Employment with Non-Traditional Scheduling
A number of employers understand the challenge of work-life balance and take measures to improve the typical schedule. You may work fewer, longer shifts, for example. Alternately, employment with a larger provider group gives more opportunity to trade shifts with colleagues. Accepting shifts during odd hours like evenings and weekends can give more time for family during the week (or at least decrease childcare expenses) if your need for flexibility stems from such obligations. Seek out employment that follows unconventional scheduling norms.
How do you find the flexibility you need in your NP career?
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