Unexpected Perks of Working for a Small Practice

At first glance, working for a large practice can seem like the ideal opportunity, especially if you’re a new grad nurse practitioner. With bigger benefits packages, more formal training programs, and an opportunity for growth, it’s tempting to focus all of your efforts on landing a job with one. But don’t rule out smaller practices just yet. Bigger is not always better. There are many perks of working for a small practice to consider as well.

Be a big fish in a little pond

If you’re eager to begin your career as a nurse practitioner or perhaps are just in dire need of a new position, you can land a job a lot faster if you’re also applying to smaller practices. With larger practices you’re often competing with hundreds of candidates; of whom might already be established in their practice and have a great deal more experience than you. Your resume might get sent straight to the bottom if you’re a new graduate with no experience. But because smaller practices tend to receive fewer applications, yet also often have an immediate need for an NP, the supply versus demand gives you a better chance at landing a job.

Once you’ve begun working in a small practice, you’re more likely to get noticed by your superiors for a job well done; whereas in a larger practice or clinical setting, managers are often looking at things on a larger scale which can make your small wins seem insignificant.

Ability to focus more on quality patient care

While nurse practitioners in both small and large practices face pressure to increase productivity, larger practices tend to look at the metrics more closely like analyzing wait times and even the minutes you spend in the restroom. As a result, it can make your practice feel like a patient mill rather than a place where you can offer helpful advice and promote wellness.  This could mean a great deal of difference in the quality of care that your patients receive.  

In fact, a study by Weill Cornell Medical College investigated the quality of care in practices with 19 or fewer physicians. The results revealed that practices with one to two physicians had 33% fewer hospital admissions than practices with 10-19 physicians, and practices with three to nine physicians had 27% fewer preventable admissions. Likewise, the study also found that physician-owned practices had fewer preventable admissions than hospital-owned practices. Of course this does not mean that providers in larger practices do not provide quality care; however the study did theorize that one possible reason could be that patients of providers in smaller practices are more closely connected to their providers because it’s easier for patients to reach their provider by phone and to be seen the same day, if necessary.

Direct hands-on mentoring

Working in a small practice gives you the unique opportunity to not just work for your collaborating physician but with them as well. And if there are any other NPs within the practice, you can learn first hand from their experiences too. While in larger practices there are more providers to ask questions of, this can sometimes be frustrating as you might get a variety of perspectives. For new grad NPs, this could be also be a bit overwhelming and confusing as you are trying to put into practice the clinical skills you’ve just acquired.

Advance your skills

Although smaller practices are limited in their resources in comparison to larger practices, this is actually a great learning opportunity. Limited resources allow you to be able to diversify and advance your skills (within the scope of your practice, of course). Because you’ll have more time to focus on patient care, you’ll have more time also focus on improving areas in which your skills are lacking. You’ll also learn how to be more resourceful by using what you have. This is especially valuable for recent NP graduates. A lack of resources could also help you build character as a nurse practitioner, as if and and when you move onto a larger practice, you’ll be even more confident in your abilities and skills.

Learn how to run your own practice… someday

Perhaps you might be dreaming of running your own practice one day down the line. In a large practice, you’re likely to only see a tiny piece of what keeps the facility running. However, working in a small practice can give you a closer look into of the daily operations and what it’d take to run your own someday.

Before making a decision on whether working in a small or large practice is right for you, it’s important to consider how the decision will affect you as a nurse practitioner, and ultimately what effect it will have on the care that you provide to your patients.