Most new grad Nurse Practitioners want to negotiate their salary and benefits before accepting a job offer. Unfortunately, few actually do it. Here’s how to overcome your fears and have that tough talk about money.
I think there are two main reasons why most nurse practitioners shy away from salary negotiations. Many people just don’t like talking about money. Additionally, many people (especially women and new graduates) undervalue their capabilities. So, if you want to earn what you’re worth, you can change your mindset. You can also learn the strategies to become a more effective negotiator.
First, Understand Your Value as a Nurse Practitioner
Let’s start by appreciating the value you bring to the organization. Studies show that Advanced Practice providers like nurse practitioners and physician assistants help to reduce the incidence of medical complications, shorten patient length of stay, reduce readmission rates, and improve patient satisfaction. All of these factors directly contribute to hospital profitability.
In many outpatient clinics and some inpatient roles, NPs also bill for their services and directly produce revenue for the organization. So, regardless of whether you work in an inpatient or an outpatient NP role, you are creating value. Let’s look at ways you can quantify your value, and negotiate for a higher salary throughout the job search process.
Next, Listen for Salary Clues During the Job Interview
When you go into your NP interview, get insight into the metrics the employer uses to set the salary for the role. Try to understand how the organization evaluates performance. You can uncover this information by asking these questions:
- Does the organization bill for NPs? (In other words, is the NP role revenue-producing?)
- Does the hospital measure productivity in relative value units (RVUs)? How are NPs RVUs calculated?
- Do NPs bill under their own NPI number?
- Is the salary offered by the organization supported by the regional market? (In other words, is it adjusted for local cost-of-living?)
The answers to these questions give you insight into what the revenue target is for the position. If the salary is tied to RVUs, you could be eligible to earn a percentage of collections. That’s why a good follow-up question to ask is whether the position is eligible for productivity bonuses.
But, Don’t Lock Yourself In to a Salary Range Before You Get an Offer
When the tables turn, and your interviewer asks you what you’d like to make, it’s perfectly reasonable to say, “I’m a new grad and am not quite sure yet.” Or “I’m new to this city and practice area.” Followed by the question: “What do you think is an appropriate range for this position.” Throwing out a number during the interview anchors you, and can lead to getting an offer that is less than they might be willing to pay.
Then, Do Your Salary Research Once You’ve Received an Offer
When you do receive an offer, say “Thank you I’d like to do some research and get back to you.”
Salary data is available from a variety of sources. Download our Melnic Advanced Practice Salary Guide, or contact us with your salary questions. You can also check the Bureau of Labor Statistics website, look for resources from professional organizations in your field, or talk to colleagues and preceptors. Does the offer seem reasonable? If not, identify an appropriate range that you feel is supported by salary data.
Salaries have been increasing by 2-3% every year. When you get an offer, ask for details on annual raises and adjustments. Are they inflation-based, or merit based? You can also ask how the organization has paid out increases over the past several years.
Also bear in mind that certain schedules and roles command a higher pay rate, such as evenings, weekends, and acute care. You want to make sure that the terms and rate for your role are specified in the contract. This protects you from losing money if your work situation changes in the future.
Finally, remember that your compensation is more than just your base salary. Ask to see the benefits package alongside your employment contract. If you’re weighing multiple offers, create a chart with all your benefits and do a side-by-side comparison. And, don’t forget about the intangible benefits of having a job that brings you satisfaction and supports your lifestyle.
Now, Get Ready to Negotiate Your NP Salary
When you’re ready to accept an offer, it’s important to have a strategy for negotiating the terms of your compensation. A great way to approach the issue is to calmly say, “Thank you for this job offer. I’m excited about this opportunity and have a few questions. I did some research and found that salaries for similar positions are between $95,000 and $105,000. I also have several attributes that increase my value to the organization.”
At this point, relate any specific certifications, related experience and qualifications that make you especially qualified for the role. Examples include relevant RN experience, Acute Care certification, or training on specific equipment like an ECMO machine.
Then follow up by asking, “I’m wondering if you would consider $102,500 for this role.”
If your prospective employer counters by saying that you need additional orientation and training, you can say, “I understand. In that case, could we plan to reevaluate my salary in six months and increase it to $100,000 if I achieve the goals we identify together? And then at one year, can we raise my salary to $102,500 if my progress continues?”
Finally, Review Your Contract Thoroughly Before You Sign
If you’ve made it this far, congratulate yourself! Negotiating your NP salary is an important, but challenging career move. Before you sign on the dotted line, make sure your contract is revised to reflect the conversations you’ve had with your prospective employer.
If you have any concerns, it might be a good idea to hire a lawyer to review your contract. Your prospective employer hired a lawyer to draft the contract. Nothing prevents you from having a lawyer too! It costs money, but when you consider that you’re securing your future earning potential, it is a wise investment.
Expert Support for Your Salary Negotiation
Does all of this sound too challenging? No time for your job search? Let us help! As a Melnic candidate, we’ll create a strategic approach to your job search. Throughout your interview, we’ll be by your side. We also know where–and to what degree–hiring managers are willing and able to negotiate. Our experts also advocate directly on your behalf. Melnic is your solution to getting a new job. For more information, feel free to email Sharla Jepkes, Candidate Manager.
Melnic is a nationwide search firm focused on Advanced Practice placements for APRNs and PAs. To take advantage of our specialized job matching services a visit our job board and sign up for job alerts. The best part? There is never a fee for candidates to work with us.
Jill Gilliland is President of Melnic an APRN and PA national recruiting company. Jill is a speaker and publicist on areas such as job strategies, branding and marketing, pediatric critical care needs, and additional topics relevant to pediatric nursing and the recruitment business. She has over 12 years of experience in the recruiting industry coupled with a strong sales, healthcare, and technology background. Jill holds a BS degree in Business from the University of Southern California and an MBA from The University of Virginia, Darden Business School. Connect with Jill Gilliland on LinkedIn.