Employment opportunities are limited today for many people seeking work, yet health-care needs are on the rise and the demand for nurse practitioners (NPs) and physician assistants (PAs) to care for the country’s baby-boomers is increasing. Considering the vast numbers within this population, this is a great marketplace for clinicians in search of employment. 

When looking for a job, NPs and PAs must be aware of the given state’s requirements and scope-of-practice protocols. Understanding the scope of ability attached to the position for which you are being interviewed will alleviate any misconceptions about the role to be fulfilled.

Ask exactly what it is the employer is looking for. Get specific details pertaining to the job role, hours, benefits and performance appraisal/incentives. What does the employer have to offer? Make sure to ask all questions up-front. This way, if something is not offered, you might be able to negotiate it in with the terms of agreement. 

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A contract written to include all employment details is great to have. Some contracts may expire after one year or after two years. Just remember that if the contract protects the employee, it will also protect the employer. The idea is to have terms listed to your benefit, meaning you should be careful before accepting any noncompete clauses and resignation-notice requirements. Although in general, an employee leaving a job is required to give the employer two weeks’ notice, NPs and PAs might be required to give the employer as much as 60 days’ notice when leaving a job. However, this also means that the NP/PA gets 60 days’ notice if the position is terminated. 

Benefits packages may vary depending on amount of hours worked. NPs and PAs should always consider negotiating partial benefits, even if the position is part-time. Health insurance should be offered or at least negotiated into the package regardless of hours worked. Annual salary increases are also a must. In addition, it would be wise to negotiate profit-sharing or possible partnership.

NPs and PAs are as important as physicians to the livelihood of any health-care practice or institution. Insurance reimbursements are higher today than in previous years for NPs and PAs; surely the future will show these reimbursement rates to be equivalent to those of physicians. Reaching for a piece of the pie is definitely possible for NPs and PAs and should be a part of the decision-making process when choosing among employment opportunities.

Make sure all terms are negotiated and none are left out. Confirm major details, such as salary, and even minor ones, such as how breaks and lunches will work. If the employer reveals the salary before asking the NP or PA what salary he or she is seeking, the NP or PA has the advantage of knowing where the dollar amount starts, and he or she can then try to negotiate up from that amount. 

Whether one desires to work in primary care or specialized practice, strong interviewing skills are a must. Demonstrating confidence, strength and intelligence during the interview will make any employer take notice. Be prepared and be knowledgeable about the position for which you are interviewing. 

Once you land the job, be sure to iron out any and all details before signing a contract. And most important, be satisfied with the terms of the employment agreement that have been reached.