Identifying Your Nurse Practitioner Job Search Parameters
It’s a great time to be a nurse practitioner. The job market for NPs is overall looking good as more and more companies realize the value nurse practitioners can provide to patient care. But, many NPs still find searching for a job a frustrating experience. Yes, there are jobs out there, but which one matches best with your personal and professional needs?
If you’re looking for a job as a nurse practitioner, the first step to take is to identify your own employment preferences. Approaching the job search without a clear vision of what you’re looking for can land you in a position where you’re unhappy. So, do a little soul searching. Here are a few things to consider in identifying your job search parameters.
1. Location and Commute
Considering location is essential in your job search. Think about which areas of the country, or even your city where you would and would not be willing to work. Are you able to relocate? Or, do you need to find a job that is doable with your current living situation?
In some cases you may need to coordinate location with other aspects of your preferred position. If you want to work with an underserved population, for example, you will need to be willing to live or at least commute to an underserved area of town.
Make your daily commute an important consideration in your job search. How far are you willing to drive to work each way? Your target must be realistic. A long commute will wear on you over time no matter how desperate you are to expand your job search. Don’t forget to consider traffic in calculating which geographic areas are within reach given your commute preferences.
2. Placement Status
Nurse practitioners enjoy many options when it comes to how and where they will work. Most jobs are permanent. Once you sign a contract you are employed on a continual basis until either you or your employer decides to end the agreement.
Another subset of positions, termed locum tenens, offer temporary employment opportunities for nurse practitioners. These jobs may last a few days, to a few weeks, months, or may even turn into a permanent position. If you have flexibility when it comes to where and when you work, locum tenens positions can be an exciting career pick.
3. Employment Status
Working full-time isn’t the only option for NPs. More and more nurse practitioners are opting for non-traditional employment arrangements piecing together PRN and part-time options based on the amount they want to work. Think about how many hours/week you are willing to work. Do you need a full-time job with benefits? Or, do you prefer to work less and forgo the perks of a full-time contract?
Both non-traditional schedules and traditional, 9-5 types of opportunities are available to nurse practitioners. Is a predictable schedule important to you? Or, do you prefer something a bit more sporadic to keep you on your toes? Some nurse practitioners prefer to work evenings or weekends while others may want to avoid these hours completely. Keep in mind scheduling options may be predetermined by setting or specialty. If you’re looking for work in the ER, for example, it may be impossible to avoid working weekends.
Many employers offer flexibility within an employment agreement or opportunities for future growth or change. Working for a large, national retail health chain, for example, increases the probability you can continue your employment with the same company should you foresee relocating in the future. It may also allow for administrative career options.
Larger companies with multiple nurse practitioners working in the same setting often provide day to day schedule flexibility as NPs can trade days with one another in case of an emergency or even when planning a vacation. Smaller employers have fewer options when it comes to day to day and long-term career flexibility. Decide if this type of flexibility appeals to you and consider it in your job search.
6. Licensure and Certification Status
If you are a new graduate or are looking for work in a different state, waiting on the appropriate licensure can limit your job search. Keeping your options too open when it comes to the geographic area where you are willing to work may even be a negative. Employers are hesitant to interview NPs without an active license to practice in their state. You may have more success limiting your job search to areas where you currently hold a license to practice or applying for these licenses presumptively.
7. Specialty and Practice Environment
Specialty should be one of the top things you consider in your NP job search. In part, this depends on your education. If you are a certified Family Nurse Practitioner you shouldn’t be looking for a job in the ICU. If you are an Adult NP, working in a walk-in clinic that also treats kids isn’t an option. Aside from the obvious specialty restrictions, think about the ideal patient population you are looking to treat. Is it important for you to stick to this specialty or are you open minded? Do you prefer to work with a broad range of medical problems or a focused subset?
8. Support System
Having a support system is especially important for new grad NPs. In looking for a job you must decide how comfortable you are working on your own. If you are trying to establish yourself as a nurse practitioner or get started in a new specialty, having other providers around to help answer your questions is a must.
Once you’ve nailed down your wants and needs when it comes to the above job characteristics, decide which of these aspects are most important to you. Rank them on a 1 to 10 weighted scale. This way you can quickly identify areas where you can’t compromise and those that aren’t as important. You may need to make a few compromises when it comes to finding your next nurse practitioner position, but knowing what you want helps ensure success in your job search.
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