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Four Secrets to Finding Your Ideal Nurse Practitioner Job

Posted on October 13, 2017   |   by   |   Job Seekers, New Grads, Professional Development, Work Environment

Job growth for nurse practitioners is increasing by 30% each year. This means finding an NP job may be easier than ever but, finding the RIGHT job can still be a challenge. We have the secrets to uncovering the right job offer for you.

I’ve had the privilege of talking to thousands of nurse practitioners throughout my career. I always ask them, “What’s your pain? What matters to you most? What are you really looking for? What would be your ideal Nurse Practitioner job?”

With few exceptions, nurse practitioners are looking for a job that offers five things: a competitive salary, a desirable location, a work schedule that helps with work/life balance, the right team, and the support they need to grow their careers.

When you know the signs to look for, it becomes easier to accept a job offer with confidence that it will be a good work environment. Let me share the four secrets to finding your NP dream job.

1. Look for Role Clarity

In my experience, how the NP role is defined will ultimately determine your job satisfaction. You want a job that effectively utilizes the full scope of your education and training. This may be the best predictor of whether you’ll stay with an employer for the long-term, or decide to seek opportunities elsewhere.

There are three ways your role as a nurse practitioner is defined:

• The scope of practice laws in your state. As you know, scope of practice laws vary from state to state. In full practice authority states, NPs are permitted to practice to the full extent of their education and training. In restricted practice states, NPs face more limitations. You can find many wonderful career opportunities in restricted practice states, but it’s important to know how state laws will affect your role.

• The bylaws of your hospital system. Every healthcare organization sets its own bylaws that define the NP role. Even if you’re in a full practice authority state, hospital bylaws will ultimately determine the extent of your practice within that organization.

• The specific work environment. The last way your NP role will be defined is by the work environment itself. This is determined by the job description, reporting structure, and management practices in your area of practice.The responsibilities that fall inside and outside the scope of the NP job description should be clear.

Your best opportunity to learn about the job role you’re applying for is during the interview. Ask questions about the role in a positive way, such as: “Can you tell me about any restrictions on the role and how you’ve defined the scope of this NP job?”

If you’re interviewing with several different people, I recommend that you ask this question of each of them. You may discover that the role is not clearly articulated or defined because everybody has a different idea of what the nurse practitioner should do.

If you hear something that sends up a red flag, it’s possible that the role is not what you thought it would be. Maybe it’s not within your scope of practice, or it’s better performed by a case manager, a clinical nurse specialist, a charge nurse, or another medical professional.

2. Look for Orientation, Support, and Continuing Education

A supportive work environment is important for all NPs, but is critical for new grads. If this describes you, make sure your prospective employer has an orientation program. Depending on the environment, this program should be between three and six months in length. During this time you can expect to receive additional training and be assigned a preceptor.

You’ll also want a gradual patient load that is appropriate for the acuity of your patient population. In the ICU, new grads may start with one patient, and gradually add more patients one-by-one. In a clinic environment, it’s typical to start by seeing four patients a day, go to six, then eight, and finally move your way up to a full patient load.

Ongoing learning, training, and education are other pillars of support to look for in your next NP job.

During the interview, ask about the orientation program, and what is provided for continuing education and professional development.

At every stage of your career, you will want to engage and grow professionally. The right employer will aid your development with protected time and support. This leads to our next secret…

3. Look for Protected Professional Time

Learn as much as you can about the schedule and expectations for your patient load before you accept the position. Will this job include professional time during your week for charting and administrative responsibilities? Across the industry, a 10% allocation of an NPs time for this seems to be standard.

How does the organization approach scheduling? If you’re responsible for 12-hour shifts, how many 12-hour shifts are you expected to work in a four-week period? If the answer is around 11-12, you can expect to have a fair amount of administrative time. When this is closer to 13 or 14, the reality is that you’ll be working more than 40 hours in a week.

For some employers, expecting NPs to exceed 40 hours a week is standard practice. But if you know this before you accept the job, you’ll have appropriate expectations and can plan accordingly.

4. Look for an Employer with Advanced Practice Structure

If you’re considering a position in a hospital environment, ask whether the employer has an Advance Practice Management Structure. This is a sign that the organization recognizes the value of advanced practice providers (APRNs and PAs) and is invested in supporting and advocating for the nurse practitioner role.

The key is understanding who you’ll be reporting to and whether this person will understand your role as an NP. Will you report to a physician? An advanced practice leader? A nurse? Or an administrator removed from the day-to-day clinical responsibilities of your role.

When you interview, take time to ask about management and oversight, processes, HR practices, and other operational business functions that will impact your work environment.

We Can Help You Find Your Dream Job

I hope this information helps you choose a job that will keep you challenged and satisfied well into the future. If you’d like to talk through job opportunities and get help identifying the right job for you, feel free to send me an email at jill@melnic.com. We’d love to help you!

This Week’s Top Nurse Practitioner Jobs

Our Melnic jobs board has NP positions at some of the country’s leading hospitals. If you are an NP who is considering a change, take a look at some of these great job openings!

  • Nemours Children’s Hospital in Wilmington, Delaware is seeking a PNP AC in orthopedics to manage the care of pediatric patients with bone, joint, muscular, and nerve disorders and conditions from admission to discharge.
  • Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital in Palo Alto, California has an opening for a PNP Surgical First Assist. Join a newly expanding neurosurgery department and enjoy a variety of responsibilities including FA in the OR, inpatient care, outpatient clinic duties and community outreach. This is a full-time 8-hour days position, with no weekends, nights, holidays, or call.
  • Seattle Children’s Hospital is seeking a PNP in plastic surgery for the direct care and clinical management of patients from birth to age 21 with congenital and acquired deformities of the head, skull, face, neck, jaws, and associated structures in both the inpatient and outpatient settings.
  • In Houston, Texas Children’s Hospital is hiring for a PNP AC in the Cardiac Intensive Care Unit. This fast-paced critical care setting provides care for critically ill children undergoing cardiac surgery and transplant.
  • Lurie Children’s Hospital in Chicago has an opening for a PNP AC in the Cardiac Intensive Care Unit. Join the cardiology team at this leading academic children’s hospital in the Midwest and provide comprehensive, individualized care for patients with congenital or acquired cardiac conditions, many requiring surgery or transplant.

Review our list of nurse practitioner jobs, then contact us today!


3 thoughts on “Four Secrets to Finding Your Ideal Nurse Practitioner Job”

    1. Hi Donna – Thanks for your interest! We’re working on adding an email option to our posts. In the meantime, you can click the print button to download a copy.

  1. Thanks for explaining that nurse practitioner jobs should prioritize continuing education to help support professional development. I’m interested in becoming a nurse because I’ve always enjoyed helping others, so I think it would be a really fulfilling career for me. I’m glad I read your article because now I know what qualities to look for once I get to the stage of finding a nurse practitioner job.

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