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8 Keys to Writing an APRN and PA Job Description from Melnic

Posted on December 17, 2020   |   by   |   Advanced Practice Structure, Communication Skills, Employers

8 Keys to Writing an APRN and PA Job Description from Melnic

Author: Jill Gilliland

Editor: Elizabeth Moran, MSN, RN, CPNP

Looking for a new Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRNs) or Physician Assistants (PAs) candidate to fill a role at your institution? Finding a good match is important to decrease turnover, positively impact the work environment, add value to the organization, and increase overall retention for the practice area.  Finding the best matched candidates starts with a job description that targets the right candidates. Writing a job description can be a challenge, but is a crucial first step.  Melnic is here to help!  

At Melnic, we identified 8 keys to include in your job description to find NP and PA candidates (collectively referred to as Advanced Practice Providers, or APPs) who not only match the requirements of the job, but also are a fit for the company culture. We believe that reducing the number of applicants to solely the best matches is worthwhile to help recruiters and hiring managers manage their busy workloads, save time on reviewing and screening candidates, and ensure talent meets expectations.  Equally important, finding the best fit increases long term job satisfaction, engagement, and retention. 

Engaging hiring managers in the process of developing a robust job description is paramount. Standardizing the process through surveys and assessments can reduce the friction and time to post the job. Melnic can help develop an automated process for creating specific job description content to target the right candidate. Below are the 8 key areas to focus the information gathering process to develop a job description:

Match the Job Description to the Culture and Values

Include a section in the job description about the company culture and values that reflect the  characteristics you seek in the  right candidate. The words used become  “motivators” for  candidates who share the same ideals. According to PDP Research and Development, “The motivators are frequently used in advertising a job in order to attract applicants who are known to be motivated by certain key conditions and therefore usually have the profile that matches the one best suited for the job.”1  Candidates seek the right role that supports their purpose and mission. 

A good job fit also matches the behavioral traits required for the job.  APPs typically embody traits such as being a team player, exhibiting patience, providing goal clarity, having the ability to speak up, and  encompassing excellent communication skills, confidence, objectiveness, and attention to detail. These are only a few of the traits that align with a strong candidate. Depending on the practice area, the prioritization of these traits may vary. 

APRN and PA Candidates are looking for the Right Role 

APPs want to understand what the role is when they look at a job description to get a sense of what their day to day will look like.  Role alignment for an APP includes credentials, scope of practice, and practice area.  Melnic suggests the job description include the specific credentials required not only in the requirements section, but in the title and first paragraph. This quickly eliminates applicants who are not a good fit and helps focus on potential candidates immediately.  Additionally it is important to include the jobs area of specialty and setting such as inpatient, telemedicine, outpatient, or a mix. Now that you have peaked the interest of qualified candidates at the start of the  job description, you want to attract them to the role. 

The APP is looking for a role where they have the ability to practice to the fullest extent of their education and training, generally coined as “full scope of practice.” Scope of practice for an APP is determined by Full Practice Authority. The American Association of Nurse Practitioners defines Full Practice Authority (FPA) as “the collection of state practices and licensure laws that allow for NPs to evaluate patients, diagnose, order, and interpret diagnostic tests, initiate and manage treatments-including prescribing medications-under the exclusive licensure authority of the state board of nursing,” (AANP, 2014). For PAs, full practice authority also means the ability to practice to the full extent of their education and training. Job descriptions that include scope of practice information can make a big difference to potential applicants. The biggest reason Melnic hears as to why APPs leave their job within the first year is because it was not the role that they were looking for. Although for new APPs this may be due to a feeling of poor support,  experienced APPS generally express not feeling valued and respected because they are not practicing to their full scope of practice.  

Sell Your Location 

In addition to the role, APPs want to know what it will be like to live where they work. APPs, like anyone else, wants to know what is in it for them — you have  to sell your candidates on location, too! During the COVID-19 pandemic, employers may only have virtual interviews available before asking a candidate to accept a job offer. The more information the employer provides about the benefits of the location, the more they enable the candidate to make a decision without a visit.  Some options for the APP job description are to include links to neighborhoods, outdoor activities, cultural activities, schools, and unique features. Unique features can include rivers, lakes, festivals, food experiences and restaurants, breweries/wineries, or diverse industries and job opportunities for partners. 

APRN and PA Candidates Care About Who is Responsible for Their Role

An APP job description should also include details about the advanced practice reporting structure. Which lead/manager will the APP report to — nursing, medical, or APP leadership?  If the role reports to a physician then describing the physician engagement in the role is helpful. Remember to also include details about a robust orientation, support for professional development, ongoing education and training, and any other investment made in building a retention infrastructure.  

APP Job Descriptions Experience Section

Experience matters and throwing a wide net helps.  Review with the hiring manager what level of experience is required and preferred. If you do not have the capacity or resources to orient new graduates, making 2 or more years of APP experience within the practice area a requirement helps to filter out under qualified candidates.  Otherwise, if the hiring manager does have the bandwidth to orient and train a new graduate, then it is better to list the APP experience  as preferred, and/or with greater than 2 years of experience as a RN in the practice area for APRNs. Or, if it is open to new graduate Physician Assistants, include the term “preferred” under experience for the  Physician Assistant.

APP Schedules Are an Important Part of the Job Description 

Work/life balance is  an important consideration for all APPs. Including the schedule in an APRN or PA job description will provide a good filter for the right candidate.  Some of the schedule information that matters includes time of day (day, afternoon, or evening shifts) hours per week or hours per shift, protected time (time to engage in projects and professional activities), administrative time to make calls or update charts, and the percentage of time for nights and weekends, when applicable. Including if the schedule is variable is reasonable or negotiable, too,makes a difference. Information on vacation, sick, and personal time off, as well as amount of time allotted for CMEs, is also useful.

APP Salaries in the Job Description are not Essential but Sell Benefits

Information on perks and benefits is always valuable in a job description for APRNs and PAs. Some of the information can include healthcare and retirement benefits, relocation stipends, sign on bonuses, student loan repayment, protected time, time off, higher education funds, or continuing education funds.  See the APRN and PA Salary Guide by Melnic for more information. Another important aspect of the job description is language that attracts all candidates. 

Diversity, How to Attract the Best

The best candidates are from all walks of life, work styles, backgrounds, ethnicities, gender identities, and more. Attracting the best means that work environments are safe for all people. Focusing and celebrating differences builds a workforce that can collectively attract and retain the best talent, as well as provide optimal patient care. Representation matters for employees and patients.

Ensuring that the culture embraces diversity and seeks to be diverse through ongoing education and training is an important part of any workplace environment. Providing training, education, and communication activities to ensure that the work environment is safe and supportive of all employees should be of the highest priority. Writing a job description that attracts a wide range of qualified applicants includes key words such as, “diverse,” “supportive,” “acceptance,” “openness,” “community,” and other inclusive language.  According to St. George’s University in an article on The Importance of Diversity in Health Care: Medical Professionals Weigh In, ”Increased diversity of the health care workforce can lead to improved satisfaction for racial and ethnic minority patients. Patients who are treated by physicians of their own racial or ethnic background are more likely to report receiving higher quality care.”

Job descriptions provide a tool to attract the best candidates who can positively impact the organization, recruitment, and retention within a work environment. From the European Journal of Social Sciences in 2009, the article titled, “A Review of the Need for Writing & Updating Job Descriptions for 21st Century Organizations” stated that “from the analysis of data, it was found that a large majority of the respondents (78%) had stated that the main reasons why it was necessary to update the job description or to write a new one when required was that it enhanced the ability of the organization to retain stellar employees and it provided a method by which employees that were unable to meet expectations were terminated.”


  1. PDP https://cdn2.hubspot.net/hubfs/3787722/Pdpglobal_April2018_Theme/Pdf_Files/PDP_Research-Monograph_No_9.pdf
  2. Al-Marwai, Sahal & Subramaniam, I D. (2009). A Review of the Need for Writing & Updating Job Descriptions for 21st Century Organizations.. European Journal of Social Sciences. 12. 241-251. 


Job Description Writing Guide

Melnic Jobs

Please contact Melnic if you need a sourcing partner or if you would like to learn more about using assessment tools to create job descriptions, matching high qualified candidates, or additional recruiting resources.  Jill Gilliland, President, Jill@melnic.com


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