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Career Coach

Out-of-the-Box Options for Nurse Practitioners
February 6, 2017 2:43 PM by Renee Dahring

Dear NP Career Coach: I am a board certified NP and am looking to discover some "out of the box" options for NPs. This would include non-patient care options, and I thought that perhaps you may be able to provide some additional insight. Any information that you are able to provide would be very much appreciated.

Dear Job Reader: Your question is a great one as well as one I am quite frequently asked. It's not unusual for NPs to reach a point in their career where they either need a break from direct care or are simply looking for a new challenge. I have also long been an advocate of NPs expanding their options to include some less traditional roles. Working outside of direct care not only increases our job satisfaction it makes us more visible as a profession.

Let me offer a few suggestions, which are located at varying distances "outside the box."

Teaching is the first that comes to mind. Perhaps you have considered this option already? Nursing programs of all levels are experiencing a faculty shortage. As an NP, you are more than qualified to teach at an undergraduate level, and depending on the program and your educational degree (MSN vs DNP), you could find work in APRN programs.  If you aren't sure if teaching is for you, many universities and colleges hire practicing NPs to teach or assist with one or two classes and will contract with you on a semester by semester basis.  This is nice because it gives you a chance to try it out before leaving your "day job".

Stepping a little further out of the box is speaking.  Do you have an area of expertise that you can share? Most practicing NPs develop advanced skills in at least one or two areas.  For instance, in my clinical practice I treat drug and alcohol withdrawal. On a professional development level, I do presentations on resume writing and other job hunting skills. Once you identify a topic or two, start looking for opportunities to build a speaking portfolio. If presenting to other NPs is a bit daunting, you could start out with RN conferences or even educational events hosted by different healthcare organizations. Or, circling back to teaching, you could offer to guest lecture at your local university or college. Your alma mater is a great place to start.

Writing is another avenue that is near and dear to my heart. Not the most lucrative, but it may help to satisfy your itch to add something a bit different to your professional life. Start a blog, comment frequently on professional networking sites. See what happens.

Get involved with all levels of our professional organizations. You will not only find this incredibly informative but also very rewarding. There is a chance it could lead to some interesting job opportunities.

Get paid for your opinions. As an APRN, you are qualified to offer opinions on both RN and APRN care. There are a number of good websites that contain great tips on becoming a legal consultant.

Keep me posted on your progress.

Readers, if you have other options he might consider, I would love to hear them!

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Become More Searchable to Future Employers
January 23, 2017 12:37 PM by Renee Dahring

Every day there are new employers who are searching for you online. Yes, even right now they are looking for someone with your skills and experience. If you are actively searching for a new job everyday online or you belong to the vast majority of NPs out there who are what we call "passively" searching, meaning if the right opportunity came along you would be open to changing jobs, you need to find a way to be found. In order to be found, you must do more than merely exist online. Sure, creating an account to "link" to employers is a start, but if you wish to leverage the full capability of professional networking sites, you need to optimize your published information.

Search algorithms have changed in recent years to become much more efficient and accurate. Understanding the logic behind a search will enable employers to find you much more readily and easily.

Search engines now utilize what is called "natural" or "organic" methods. And no, it has nothing to do with GMO or gluten-free. It just means that the search tools have been programmed to find not just credentials but also to comb the job seekers entire profile to find cues and keywords that suggest they are a better fit than the old fashion searches.

To take full advantage of this strategy you must keep in mind three important concepts.

Clear job descriptions. No more stating your experience as "assess, diagnose, and treat medical conditions." Duh. Instead use real world detailed descriptions that more accurately reflect what you do in your current and past jobs. For example, use specifics such as suturing, managing diabetes or heart failure, or casting and splinting, etc. Being more specific leads to a better match.

Clear description of the job you are seeking. Stay away from generic "fast paced environment where I can use my skills." Don't be afraid to state what basically amounts to your job requirements. Somewhere out there is an employer who needs what you want, so don't make it difficult for them to find you!

Engage. One way to engage with your community is to seek and give endorsements. At least one popular networking site has the ability for users to endorse skills you wish to promote. Take a look at these and make sure they align with your goals, then get to work on some clicks! (Hint: Endorsing others can subtly remind them to endorse you.) Posting and commenting in discussion groups that either employers or other industry professionals frequent is critical too. Those who speak up are the ones who get noticed; those who don't remain invisible.

Use these three strategies to boost your online image and help employers find you faster and easier.

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3 Tips to Build the Perfect Résumé
January 10, 2017 3:15 PM by Renee Dahring

Have you ever wondered what qualities make a résumé great versus good enough? Submitting a "good" résumé is a gamble; you hope maybe it will be noticed while risking the chance it will be overlooked. Most job seekers would like a bit better odds than "maybe." The difference is that good résumés seek attention while great résumés demand the reader's attention.

I have reviewed thousands of résumés over the years and have created a short list of tips to guide you in crafting a résumé which stands out from the crowd.

Logical organization. Recruiters don't want to hunt for the information they need. In the NP and nursing world, we tend to prefer a traditional format in which information is grouped into categories. We want to easily be able to determine who you are, what your credentials are and what experience and skills you possess. Clinical duties belong under each job (or clinical rotation if you are a student). We dislike when job seekers create a separate "skills" heading and then provide a laundry list of skills that aren't linked to any particular position. We also like to see your employment information organized chronologically starting with the newest first. This way we can get the best overview of your career progression.

Clear dates. Don't bury your graduation dates or the start and stop dates of previous positions into the text of your résumé, making the dates difficult to find. In a great  résumé, the dates stand out and are easy to determine. Recruiters need to wrap their head around where you were and when you were there. And always, always make sure you include dates on all entries in your résumé. Missing or omitted dates is considered a big fat red flag. If your résumé is submitted electronically and doesn't contain dates, it's very likely your application will find itself in a digital black hole. Human reviewers won't be pleased with a lack of dates either.

Customize and tailor your résumé to the position. Résumés that contain information irrelevant to the position run the risk of being passed over. Remember the purpose of a  résumé is to show the employer you possess the skills the job requires-not to tell your life story. It's nice you can do well with child checks and treat STIs, but if you are applying to orthopedics... well, you get my point. Look at the job description and tweak your résumé to highlight the skills and experience you possess that show the potential employer you can do the job.

These three simple pieces of advice will help your résumé stand out and increase the likelihood an employer will notice your application. And when they notice you, they want to meet you.

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Negotiating the Employment Contract
December 19, 2016 11:15 AM by Renee Dahring

Negotiating an employment contract doesn't have to be a battle. If you feel as if you are about to engage in an adversarial process, then you are approaching it all wrong. Employment contracts shouldn't be viewed from a perspective that leads to a winner and a loser. In fact, the hallmark of a successful negotiation is that neither party will receive everything they want. So stop feeling as if you are going to war, and change your framework to an expectation that negotiating will simply be the act of coming to an agreement on your employment terms.

Your employer is not your enemy, and when they are hiring, they want exactly the same thing as you want: a reasonable and fair deal that works for both parties. Reputable employers won't try to take advantage of you. Employers want their employees to feel valued, and so most initial offers are going to be fair. If a prospective employer delivers an offer that is clearly out of line, you should understand it says more about the employer than it does about you. It doesn't bode well for your future job happiness when low-ball offers leave you feeling undervalued and insulted.

Large healthcare organizations have set salary schedules that apply to all employees across the board. Great effort and research has gone into determining the pay ranges based on job description and experience. What you must understand (and accept) is that an employer is not going to toss aside the pay scale they use for all their clinicians in order to hire you. Forget about it; it's not going to happen. There may be some small amount of wiggle room to negotiate into the upper end of the pay category or range you fall under but don't expect to have an employer agree to paying you a starting wage that is in the same category as someone who has been with the organization for years.

Salary is just one piece of the compensation pie. While there may not be much wiggle room as far as your wage, employers often have much more flexibility when it comes to your benefits package. I don't mean the price you pay for health insuranceby law, employers are prohibited from offering employee-specific rates on their healthcare. But it does mean you will have better luck when it comes to negotiating additional vacation, CME, or other benefits. These all add value to your compensation, too. I suggest you start thinking about what non-salary perks are most important to your job satisfaction now. Consider asking for reimbursement for your license or DEA fees. You might also ask for some funds to cover your membership in your state and national organizations.

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Social Media: A Job Hunting Wildcard
December 12, 2016 1:01 PM by Renee Dahring

You might be surprised what impressions an employer may form about you just by looking at your social media postings. In fact, you might be surprised to learn that your employer (or potential employer) is even looking at your online postings at all.  

Checking social media has become a fairly routine part of the hiring process. It's expected that a job seeker will put only positive attributes on their resume and be on their best behavior during an interview, so hiring managers will turn to social media to fill in the blanks.  

And just because you have a job doesn't mean your employer is not interested in your online activity. Current employees will find their boss might be reading and securitizing online postings for appropriateness as well as potential HIPPA violations. It's fairly easy to be found even if you aren't using your proper name in your profile, so don't think that using an alias will protect your identity. The popular social media sites will find and prompt users to "friend" or "follow" persons with whom you have had email correspondence. This means your boss, or even one of your patients, is likely to stumble upon your social media whether or not they were actively seeking you out. 

What you post to social media tells the world more than you might have intended. NPs and PAs should take care not only with the content of their posts but also the tone. If you use social media as your tool to vent about life's daily frustrations, you might be giving the impression that you are never happy with anything and that all you do is complain. And trust me, no one wants to hire or work with someone who can't ever be pleased. Or worse yet, that constantly gripes on a public forum about their job. 

This political season seems to have also brought out the worst in everyone. I personally have witnessed some perfectly nice folks who have become quite vicious when it comes to the election results. There are a few people that I like personally, but, quite honestly, their self-righteousness on just about every issue is becoming tedious. I understand people are passionate, but they just come across as intolerant. Threatening to "unfriend" or block followers, sometimes even family members, because of political views seems not only a bit extreme but also hurtful. Would you want to see a provider who insinuates that those who voted differently or hold opposing political views are not just wrong but are also bad people? The country is pretty evenly split, so odds are not all your co-workers and patients are on the same team as you. 

And when did it become OK to use the "f-word" in everyday conversation? If you are a NP or PA who uses profanity in a social media post you are engaged in some risky behavior.

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Can We Change Culture through Full Practice Authority?
November 28, 2016 10:31 AM by Renee Dahring

We have been focusing our attention on restrictive laws and practice agreements, but they are only one method the establishment uses to hold us back. Many of us who practice in states that have enacted full practice authority have come to realize that repealing outdated laws didn't solve all our issues. It's a great beginning but much more needs to be done if we want to see real progress.

During the messy business of passing full practice authority, we were acutely tuned in to what the opposition was saying about our profession. I think you are all familiar with the old, tired arguments, so I won't repeat them here. In a show of solidarity, nurse practitioners all united and spoke out loudly and shot down the barrage of misleading comments and stories about nurse practitioners. It's fairly easy to defend when the threat is blatant. But how do we fight against silence?

The culture has proven much harder to change than the laws. Despite our growing numbers and accomplishments, we are in danger of becoming the silent majority if we don't start speaking up. Let me give you an example from a national conference,  which I recently attended, of my specialty organization. This is an organization that focuses on a medical sub-specialty and this particular subspecialty is multi-disciplinary, but if you attended the presentations you would have come away with the impression that it was only physicians who were engaged in delivering direct care. Over and over I heard, "The physician in your clinic, the physician who is prescribing, the physician blah blah blah."

When I thought about it more, I also began to notice that when I attend many provider workgroups that include NPs as equal members the default is still "the physician." And if it isn't "physician," it's that good old generic "advanced practice clinicians/providers." While that term is lightyears ahead of "mid-level," it still does not acknowledge us as a separate and distinct profession. Now, I love my PA colleagues, but the truth is that both our professions ought to insist we be called by our proper names. I am an NP, the care I provide falls into the nursing model. A physician assistant does many of the same things I do but they don't practice nursing. I have to think that my PA friends also get a little tired of the assumption that they are no different from NPs and would like the PA profession to be appreciated and applauded for it's unique history. Lumping us into what amounts to an "other" category does nothing to advance (no pun intended) either of our professions.

Well, I have finally had it, and I decided I need to speak up. In my conference evaluation, I will be noting my disappointment in the exclusionary language my particular organization continues to use, and I encourage you to do the same. As NPs and PAs we provide important contributions and make up larger and larger numbers in various organizations (and we pay dues to those organizations!). It's time to speak up and stop the marginalization of our roles. If we stay silent we will continue to be an "invisible" class of providers.

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Filling in Résumé 'Gaps'
November 7, 2016 8:31 AM by Renee Dahring

Dear Career Coach: I am an NP, but I have not worked in 2 years. How can I get back into the workforce?

Dear Reader: You are not alone! Your question is one that I am asked with some regularity. I have a number of thoughts and a few points to share that you may not have considered.

Usually when NPs who have been out of the workplace reach out to me, they are primarily focused on the present; they want to know how they can get back into the nurse practitioner working world. They will typically ask me what sort of job would best suit them or how to convince an employer to give them a chance. They worry that an employer is going to assume their knowledge and skills are rusty. However, you might be surprised to learn that prospective employers are more interested in the past. Before you can talk about your future, you will have to supply an explanation about why you left practice in the first place.

There are as many reasons that an NP might leave the workforce as there are NPs. While some reasons are more understandable than others, it's necessary that ALL gaps in employment that last longer than a month be fully explained. When reviewing your work history, one of the first things a recruiter or hiring manager will do is look for employment gaps. If your application is submitted online and electronically processed, the employer will have set the software to scan and eliminate candidates who have employment dates that are not continuous. Any application that fails to address the reason you stepped away from you last job for an extended period of time will raise a BIG RED FLAG.

Right about now you are probably feeling like you are experiencing a bit of a catch 22. You are challenged with accurately noting your work experience on a résumé while also having to note doing "nothing." You might be wondering exactly how it is possible to put a job you didn't have on your résumé.

Well, the first answer is that you weren't doing "nothing" during your time away. Chances are you have a good explanation, even if you don't think you do. You haven't said why you were not working as an NP, but I am sure if I asked you, you could tell me.

So what I would like you to do is create a new "job" entry under your work experience section on your résumé. You will title this entry with a brief but informative title that explains your absence without going into the TMI (too much information) realm. For example, you can state "maternity leave," "care for aging parent," "spouse relocated," or "personal leave." You will also provide "to and from" dates for this entry just as you did for your paid job entries. This satisfies both the computer and the human reviewer that you aren't trying to sneak something past them. You have acknowledged your time away while sparing them a long story. Longer explanations are reserved for interviews, not résumés.

Too reassure the employer you haven't become rusty, create a section called "continuing education" and outline the steps you have taken to remain current. You can also write a nice cover letter to expand further on how you have maintained your skills. If you haven't done any conferences or workshops then you need to attend a few before you start submitting applications.

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Enjoying Your NP School Years
October 24, 2016 8:39 AM by Renee Dahring
NP students frequently ask me if there is anything they can do before graduation to help prepare for their first job. I assume they are looking for the usual "job-search advice," because they seem somewhat surprised when I tell them what they are doing now—in schoolis the best preparation.

I don't actively encourage students to start job searching while still in school, because school is hard and it's busy, and once you are done, you are done. No one returns (voluntarily) to repeat their NP program a second time. Studying and clinicals deserve your full attention. Being a student is like having a passport to observe and experience an incredible amount of medical conditions and situations without having full responsibility yet. Once you are done and working, you won't have the luxury of just being there to learn. You are missing out if you don't take full advantage of your student status. Absorb everything you possibly can; use the "I am a student, can I watch/listen/tag-along" line every chance you get before you graduate. Trust me. Once you start your first job, you are going to miss it.

I advise students to do their best in prioritizing school over their RN job. Unfortunately, I see too often that school gets slotted around in between work schedules. Yes, I understand that with the high cost of tuition and general living expenses most students have to work, but school is an investment and you need to nurture that investment or it won't grow. Your current job is about to become your past; your new role is your future. You will be an NP for the rest of your career and a hospital nurse only until you can work as a nurse practitioner.

So where does it make most sense to focus your efforts? Do you want to continue to invest in something you will be leaving soon or does it make more sense to put your energy into where you wish to be for the next few decades? Again, you won't be an NP student but once. Think about it.

The last piece of advice I give students is to find their passion. Job hunting before you have given some really serious thought to the type of position you want is not a recipe for happiness. It's tempting to jump at the first offer you receive, especially when you are a student and struggling financially. Any job with a regular paycheck can look appealing. This is why so many new grads are out looking for a new job in less than a year after they start their first job.

Slow down, be the best student you can, and do some soul searching. Your future NP self will thank you.

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The Power of the Résumé
October 10, 2016 9:49 AM by Renee Dahring
A potential employer is the only audience your résumé needs to impress. Not your instructors, not your colleagues, and not your mother. If your résumé doesn't pass this test, it has not been written properly, and improperly written résumés don't get interviews. No interview = no job.

Poorly written résumés generally share a few key characteristics that cause the applicant to be passed over. These are common mistakes that both NP and PA job seekers makeand make quite frequentlywhen crafting their résumés.

Let's first review the purpose of a résumé.

The function of a résumé is to market yourself and to demonstrate to a potential employer that you have enough of what they are looking for in a clinician so they want to meet you in person and learn more. That's right. Your résumé serves one purpose and that is to get you an interview. If you have the notion that your résumé will get you the job, you are missing the point. No one has ever been hired directly from a résumé.

Résumés are also reviewed in 30 seconds or less. This means you better get to the point quickly. You can't afford to drown the employer in a mountain of irrelevant details that have nothing to do with the job qualifications. One of the biggest résumé sins you can commit is including too much info about skills or experiences that will be of no use to the employer, because they do not correlate directly to the open position. For example, an ortho practice really doesn't care that you can do pap smears or have expertise in well-child exams. Nor do they care what you did prior to becoming an NP or PA. How exactly will your work as a barista or bank teller possibly make you more marketable as an NP or PA?

The answer is that it won't. Including all your unrelated experience is not only going to confuse the employer as to what makes you think you are qualified, but it also makes you look unprofessional and distracts from your pertinent skills. Worse yet, you look as if you never read the job ad. And that is not an impression you want to make.

Try to put yourself inside the head of a hiring manager trying to meet the needs of their clinic, and then ask yourself what in your background will best demonstrate you can do the job. Keep that in mind, and you are far more likely to construct your résumé properly, thus becoming more likely to be asked to interview.

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The Evolution of the Job Search
September 26, 2016 8:58 AM by Renee Dahring
Job searching has evolved. Where we go to find a new job is not the same as it was even a year ago. It's tough to keep up with the trends. If you haven't changed jobs for several years, you're going to find out that the strategy you used to find your last job is no longer effective. If you are a new grad who is beginning the search for your first job, chances are the well-meaning advice you get from your instructors is outdated.

So what has changed?

Some of you may remember the big "job boards" that were popular a few years ago. There were basically two kinds of boards. Specialty or "niche" boards existed primarily to host job ads for either NPs or PAs or both. Employers paid to post their positions, and job seekers could either regularly visit the board or post a résumé and wait for calls. The other type of board that was popular was what I call the "big box" board. These boards were not specific to our profession but were so big and had such high-name recognition, they had the capability of reaching more job seekers, because they showed up at the top of most search engine results. What both types of job boards had in common was that the job seeker actively had to seek them out. In other words, if you weren't out looking for work you would never see the ads.

Now, most job ads come to you. One of the ways this happens is that the ads are placed on websites you're visiting for other reasons. You may have noticed that many of your professional organizations are hosting job ads. Makes sense right? Now when you visit your favorite healthcare information site, you are likely to see ads targeted to you and your interests. Much like your favorite online retail stores, technology has evolved to have a pretty good idea of what type of job might catch your eye based on your browsing history and previous searches.

Direct email is another way to promote job openings. Again, the jobs are quite specific and may come from either an employer or as a mass emailing from an organization or staffing agency. I get several of these each week.

If you are opting out of these emails, you are making a big mistake. Just because you aren't looking for work today doesn't mean the emails and ads aren't helpful. For one thing, they keep you up to date on market trends and salaries. You can use this information to renegotiate your current position, which is helpful. And if you do decide to seek a new job, your search will be more effective, and in general you will be better informed as you start your job search.
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The Importance of Joining Organizations
September 12, 2016 9:36 AM by Renee Dahring
Labor Day seems like an appropriate time to take stock of the current state of where we are as a profession. During the last few years, we have made great strides. Nurse practitioners have full practice authority in almost half the states in the US. Not too shabby. A lot of hard work has gone into bringing us this farhard work on all levels. I say this all the time: If you don't belong, you should. There is strength in numbers. The national organizations guide us and provide support; they bring attention to our achievements on a macro level. Join one or join many. It's all good.

And don't forget about your state organizations. State and local organizations do the heavy lifting of organizing and lobbying. Bills need grassroots support at the legislature to pass, and this is where state organizations shine. If you want to put your dues to work close to home on issues that affect your practice, then you have to begin at the state level. Yes, even if your state has full practice authority, there is still work to be done. Don't let your membership expire just because you don't have any of the big "flashy" issues on the table. Monitoring for new bills that threaten NP autonomy requires constant vigilance. You should never underestimate the chance that new bills will be introduced specifying that only physicians may perform a specific service in a sly attempt as an ends to run around NP full practice authority. There are also countless existing statutes that do not include NPs, which need to be amended.

Yes. There is much work to do at the state level. Join one or join many.

Changing the culture is a tougher issue. In my home state of Minnesota, we have almost 2 years of full practice authority under our belt, yet we hear many organizations have been slow to adapt to the new law. A survey conducted about 9 months after passage of full practice authority revealed that almost all NPs were still being asked to sign a collaborative agreement despite the fact it is no longer required by law. Many employers also will not accept an NP signature on certain formsor perhaps I should say they CHOOSE not to accept an NP signature. These are concerns we can't legislate. An employer can always be more restrictive than the law. Changing attitudes is going to take some time and some organization.

Your local organization can help to set a tone of full practice authority acceptance. An organization can educate an employer in ways that an individual cannot. An organization of many individuals has much more leverage than a single person.

Join one organization or join many. On a local level, the yearly dues for most organizations cost less than a dinner at a nice restaurant. Nationally, it's the equivalent of a really nice dinner. We make decent money. Celebrate Labor Day by joining. If you are already a member, renew and/or join a second or third organization.
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How to Find the Right Job for You
August 22, 2016 8:37 AM by Renee Dahring
No one wants their dream job to turn into a nightmare. My recruiting days were spent listening to NPs who were frustrated and wanted out of their current position. Salary and benefits weren't the problem; the problem was literally the workplace itself. They told me stories of toxic workplace cultures, horrendous work expectations and miserable co-workers. Finding yourself in a dysfunctional workplace is the last thing anyone wants. Sometimes it's impossible to see it coming, but more often than not in retrospect the NP would admit to me they missed a few clues that all was not well.

I've compiled a few of these clues to help you avoid ending up in a problematic workplace:

Buyer beware: When it sounds too good to be true... If potential employers makes promises to you during the hiring process that make you want to pinch yourself to make sure you aren't dreaming, then you probably should pinch yourself. I always get a little worried when every inquiry or request-a-job-seeker makes is answered by "yes." No one gets everything they want. The more likely scenario is that the employer is only telling you what you want to hear. It's not necessarily bad that an employer wishes to please you, but when it leads to multiple broken promises then it does become bad. The employer may mean well, but no one likes empty promises.

Excessively high pay. This too should sound an alarm. If an employer has to offer over-market salaries it could be a sign of deeper problems. File this under "too good to not have strings attached."

Circumstantial evidence. I always advocate asking about the circumstances that lead to the job opening. As a recruiter finding out why the previous employee left the position was one of my standard questions. Sometimes there is a good explanation. I know of one workplace that had a large number of clinicians who all hit retirement age during one particular year. That makes sense. Sometimes a spouse moves or an illness leads to a resignation. If the explanation is a little fuzzy, then your antennae should go up.

High turnover. You have to wonder why some organizations seem to be looking for new NPs, or for that matter, any employees on a continuous basis. We all know of workplaces that are perpetually hiring. Unless they have built a new wing or started a new program, that ought to be a big red flag. Oh, and high turnover at the management level isn't a very reassuring sign either.

Hiring you too quickly. I get a bit uncomfortable when an employer is ready to hire before doing their due diligence. If they can't take the time to have you do some paperwork or check references, that smells of desperation.

Pay attention to the chatter. Do your homework if things don't seem quite right to you. With social media, it is easier than ever to do detective work. Look at organizational reviews online, check out their Twitter or Facebook feeds. It's hard to hide dysfunction.
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Re-evaluating the ‘Dream Job’
August 8, 2016 8:55 AM by Renee Dahring
What's the first thing that comes in to your mind when I say the words "dream job?" I would venture to say your initial thoughts will go in the direction of pay, hours or perhaps location. If I gave you a few minutes more to ponder, you would likely add some other elements such as the patient population you will be serving, the number of patients you have to see per day and perhaps no call duties.

Now this is where it gets interesting. You may be surprised to learn many NPs who contact me looking for a different position tell me they currently have all or most of that list. If you are an NP who is not happy with your current job, you aren't likely to cite any of the above as reasons for your displeasure and desire for a new job. Instead, you will assure me you actually are making very good money and the hours might not be great, but you don't mind. Your benefits package is generous; in fact, that is part of the reason you have stayed as long as you have in this position. And yes, you really do love your patients. What you will tell me is that you no longer have a job that you can look forward to going to every day.

So what then is the problem? Pay, benefits, great patients-what more could you want?

Well, let's start with a happy work environment. Unhappy clinicians tell me they want to find a workplace that has both a great boss and co-workers. They want respect, good communication and to be valued for their contributions. They don't want to be miserable every day, dealing with unreasonable bosses, gossiping co-workers and increasing paperwork demands.

For unhappy clinicians the characteristics that define a dream job have undergone a major revision. Pay and benefits aren't at the top of the wish list anymore and have been replaced by requirements that really can't be written into an employment contract. What they want now are the intangibles.

My advice if you are in this situation and seeking a new job is that you take your time and pay attention to your intuition. I guarantee there were probably some warning signs that you either missed or even ignored.

As a former recruiter, I learned a few tricks to spotting a troubled workplace.

Stay tuned, I will share them with you in my next blog.

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Ups and Downs of an Online Program
July 26, 2016 8:10 AM by Renee Dahring

A large and reputable healthcare organization in our community has recently added a footnote to all posted NP job openings, declaring they will no longer hire new grads from "certain programs." The excluded programs are not named, but you will find a very short statement that refers to "proprietary online" schools this employer feels do not meet the standards of their healthcare organization. 

I can't say I am really surprised. There were signs-a couple of years ago, many local healthcare organizations began refusing to precept students from any program that did not have a bricks-and-mortar school within our state. They claimed it was a liability issue. I don't know if that is true or not, but I do know it left a great many students scrambling to find a clinical site. 

On the NP side, I am hearing from a number of NPs who have graduated and now feel that they were not adequately prepared. These NPs tell me they are having a hard time either keeping a job or finding a job. Many, to their credit, recognize the need for remediation and are searching for positions that will provide them with some on-the-job mentoring. 

Complicating the poor preparation is the fact that all too many of these NPs lacked RN experience. They either went directly or worked only a year or two before going on to an NP program.  

Now, before you send me hate mail, I know there are many good NPs from online programs and from what we call "direct-entry" programs. And yes, I know that many of these programs are extremely rigorous and produce some very fine graduates. But we need to be honest and admit there is also a growing number of programs that are iffy and a growing number of student NPs that are not prepared for practice. 

This is a problem folks. 

It's a fact of life that bad experiences are talked about much more than good. People are quick to talk about the programs that fall short or the new grad that is struggling. Planes that land safely or rush hours without car crashes don't make the evening news. 

Our image is at stake here. Once a perception is established, it can be hard to correct. This can have dire consequences for us when we are working so hard to achieve full practice authority.

I don't have any answers, do you?
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You Know the Dos; Here are the Don'ts
July 11, 2016 2:20 PM by Renee Dahring
There are some things you just shouldn't do during your interview. Negotiating is at the top of the list. If there is anything that will make you radioactive, it would be trying to pre-negotiate the duties or terms of the open position. Some career advisors will tell you if you can't find a position you like or that suits your interests, then you should apply for an opening that is somewhat like the job you want and, once you have the employer's attention, you can pitch your idea of how you would like them to accommodate you and your dreams. Uh-huh. That might work in another field, but it goes over like a lead balloon in our profession. I am going to tell you why you should never, ever take this approach.

Your first impression is deception. So you didn't actually want the job but applied anyway hoping to persuade them you had a better idea? Applying for a position under false pretenses is hardly the way to endear any employer to you. Bait and switch comes to mind. You have taken up an employer's valuable time and energy to deliver your own personal sales pitch for a product they didn't ask for or want-what could go wrong? Only your job prospects. 

Too much too soon. Negotiating before a job offer is made is seen as arrogant and assuming. I mean, you don't even know for sure if they want to hire you and there you go trying to get a better deal. Don't put the cart before the horse. You wouldn't ask someone to pick out wedding invitations on your first date would you? You might be surprised at how often I heard this complaint from employers. It would seem that a great many candidates will attempt to negotiate wages, hours and a whole host of other subjects during the first interview. Bad manners and a bad idea.  

Your best bet in the interview is to let the interviewer do what they brought you there to do, which is to interview you! Remember, employers are hiring to meet their need. If you have been invited to interview, it's because they have determined that you possess the skills they are seeking and now would like to get an idea of who you are as a person. Employers want to hire clinicians that will fit in with the clinic culture. If you are trying to work a deal or haggle over terms and benefits during that first meeting, you pretty much ruin your chances of the employer learning anything but the wrong things about you. 

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    Occupation: Nurse Practitioners and NP Recruiters
    Setting: correctional healthcare/career consulting/teaching
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