5 Keys to finding your next APRN or PA Job
You may have heard the phrase “Begin with the end in mind.” When it comes to your job search, do you have a clear vision of your ideal position? If you aren’t sure, an APRN or PA job search self-assessment can be an invaluable tool for identifying your work values. It can be as simple as asking yourself a series of questions that pertain to your career, personal life, desired location, and goals.
Not only will a self-assessment clarify your ideal working environment and practice, it will also help you stand out as an Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN- including CNS, CRNAs, NPs, and CNM) or Physician Assistant (PA). Employers are attracted to candidates who know themselves and have a clear goal in mind.
Ready to start? Here are five key questions to ask yourself:
What are my strengths?
When looking are specialties and roles in your job search as a APRN or PA, consider your unique skills, interests, and values. What are you naturally gifted to do? How would you define your clinical focus and area of expertise? What specialties align with those strengths.
Career experts advise job seekers to play to their strengths. The right job will let you do what you do best—increasing your chances of success and improving your job satisfaction.
What working environment do I enjoy most?
There are different environments that employ APRNs and PAs, each with a different approach and its own staffing structure. In your past experience, what kind of healthcare facility did you most enjoy? What is your preferred specialty and level of patient care? How do you function as part of a treatment team? Do you prefer inpatient, outpatients, consult, first assist, acute care, critical care, long term care, or a combination. There are roles in many specialties that fit each of these environments. For an APRN or PA job search, it is important to find the right environment that aligns with your interests and goals for your career.
For example, if you are an Acute Care Adult Gero Nurse Practitioner (ACAGNP), do you enjoy working in critical care, such as the heart center or medical ICU, or do you prefer a specialty like Hematology Oncology? If you are a new graduate, what was your specialty as a RN? Initially it might be better for you to stay in the same or similar specialty as your RN experience. If you do that, you can benefit from familiarity with the patient population as you learn your role as an NP. You will also be a stronger candidate for the job. Then after a few years you can consider changing specialties if you want. It helps to change to similar specialties in terms of patients diseases and illnesses however, after 2-3 years of experience you can change to a very different specialty. If you work in a hospital, spend time talking with other APPs or physicians in your organization to learn about different roles and patient population. You may find one that interests you more. Do not forget that you may like the population but would prefer a consult service, or some outpatient care as long as it aligns with your certification.
Another example is a Physician Assistant (PA) who has 2 years of experience in the cardiac ICU. You may decide that you believe you would like to first assist. It would be valuable if you can ask the surgeons if you can scrub in to observe. This can provide you more information and first hand knowledge of the role and procedures. If you believe that would be a good fit, it would be worthwhile to ask your surgeon for a few minutes of their time to discuss the opportunity to first assist either now or in the future.
What aspects of the work do I find most rewarding and satisfying?
There are many different responsibilities that are inherent in every APRN and PA position. Every job has tasks that aren’t enjoyable, but the weight of your responsibilities should fall to those things you truly enjoy. What brings you joy on the job? Is it building relationships with patients and caregivers? Do you excel in acute care? What about leadership, research, or publishing? How do you feel about management, billing, and administration?
Where will my job search take me?
APRNs and PAs are in high-demand, so they have great flexibility in choosing where to live and practice. Are you willing to relocate? If so, do you see yourself in a city, the suburbs, or in a rural area? Do you want to practice in an underserved area of the country? Are you willing to commute? Would a different locale give you a chance to do more of what you enjoy, be it outdoor recreation, antique shopping, or seeing Broadway shows?
What kind of lifestyle do I want to enjoy?
How would you define your ideal work/life balance? Some professionals want to cover as many shifts as possible. Others choose to invest more time in personal pursuits. If you have a spouse, children, or extended family, how does that affect your desired work schedule? You may also consider whether community involvement and volunteer work is something you want your next job to offer.
Perhaps the greatest benefit to conducting an APRN and PA job search self-assessment is that it reveals what you value. This knowledge can help you stay motivated and encouraged along the job search process. Then, when you have an official job offer, it can help you decide whether to say yes! Good luck!
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APRN and PA Job Search Resources:
APRN and PA Job Search
APRN and PA Interview Resources
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.