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Career Coach

Let's Do Lunch
April 23, 2014 8:26 AM by Renee Dahring

Today I am going to discuss an interview type that can make many job seekers a little uncomfortable: the lunch or dinner invitation.

You have applied for a job, and the practice has invited you to a restaurant. The invite might occur early in the process or it could be the last hurdle before the official offer. It might be fine dining or the local café. Make no mistake, no matter what it is called or where you go, it is still an interview so the standard rules will still apply. Dress professionally, show up on time and be prepared to ask and answer questions. But, as they say, the devil is in the details.

Here are a few etiquette pointers to help you lower your stress level.

  • 1. Order something easy to eat. Please stay away from any sort of finger food. Virtually no one is going to look dignified eating with his or her hands. Seriously, have you ever watched someone trying to eat a large burger? Not a pretty sight. Any food that you have to touch will also lead to food getting on your hands. This leads nicely into tip #2.
  • 2. No messy or drippy food. Stay away from spaghetti or foods that have a juicy filling. I don't know about you but the nicer I am dressed, the greater the chance that I will spill. I mean, isn't it a known fact that "dry-clean only" clothing attracts spills? Note, ribs and burgers violate both #1 and #2.
  • 3. If you are picky eater or have a lot of "special requests," keep them to yourself. You are going to sound like a major diva if you have a laundry list of do's and don'ts for your food. Asking for your dressing on the side can be forgiven but if you are getting into fat, salt or garnish discussions, you have gone too far. No one wants to hear that. Your goal is to be remembered for what you said during the interview rather than for how much you stressed out the server when you ordered.
  • 4. No alcohol. I don't care if everyone else at the table is having a glass of wine YOU are not to partake. The other people at the table can drink - they are not the ones interviewing for a job! In order to be on your best behavior, you should stick to nonalcoholic beverages.

I do, however, recommend treating yourself do the adult beverage of your choice when you get home. :-) 




The Way Healthcare Used to Be
April 2, 2014 5:01 PM by Renee Dahring
I find myself thinking quite a bit about how much healthcare has changed since I was young and trying to figure out how it is that we have come to find ourselves in our current situation.

I just want to state, for the record, that I am not that old. I was a kid in the 60s and I had my children during the 70s and early 80s. I am not talking ancient history here, only the last 50 years. 

When I was growing up my family didn't have health insurance. My father, who was a hairdresser, was considered self-employed so he did not receive any work benefits. But what he did for a living probably wouldn't have made much difference, because during that time most families didn't have health insurance as we know it today. With the exception of a major medical policy that covered only hospitalizations, people expected to pay for all clinic visits and medications out of their own pockets. And we did. And somehow it was affordable. Even the occasional trip to the emergency room wasn't unmanageable for most budgets. And for that matter, neither was having a baby. I had no insurance when I had my children but it didn't send me to bankruptcy court. Granted, my youngest was 5 years old before I owned him free and clear, but the monthly payments were reasonable! 

But that was another difference: We actually saw our bills. It's only in the last 30 years or so that bills starting going directly to the insurers rather than the patient. In those days it was up to the patient to submit the medical bill to their insurance company and wait for reimbursement.

There were no big healthcare "systems"; clinics were mostly privately owned. I also remember visit times being longer and less rushed even though charts were on paper and few offices even owned a fax machine. A person could get an appointment in a reasonable amount of time and if not perhaps a phone call was sufficient because the clinic "knew" you.  There was no such thing as an urgent care and believe it or not the emergency rooms were not overflowing. 

What is going on? I know the "good old days" weren't always so good but is this really progress? Yes, there have been some great advances in healthcare but are we really getting that much more for our money? It doesn't seem that patients are that much healthier (or happier) and not a day goes by that we don't hear grumbling from providers who are forced to dance to the tune of insurers and regulators. 

Maybe I am getting old ...







New Grad Resume Style
March 19, 2014 2:47 PM by Renee Dahring
I was speaking to a group of spring graduates a couple weeks ago about how to create an effective resume. In my talks I emphasize the importance of both content and format. Those of you who are familiar with my website and my various articles will note that when it comes to resumes, I recommend a pretty standard format. 

After I finished my presentation, a soon to be new graduate raised her hand to voice a concern. "I am worried that my resume will look pretty much like everyone else's resume if I follow your advice."  

My answer? Yes, it absolutely will! That is the goal. 

Recruiters and human resources personnel review a lot of resumes and they review them very quickly. In fact, most resumes will get no more than a 30 second look - if even that much. Your goal is to make it as easy as possible for the reader to determine whether or not you meet the qualifications. In other words, you don't want to make your reviewer work too hard or have to dig too deep to find the pertinent information. The best and most reliable way to accomplish this task is to use a standard format. 

Think about it. That's why we use a standard format, such as SOAP, in the clinical setting when we chart. Because the format never varies, the reader knows exactly how and where to find whatever piece of information they require. Easy peasy. Key information is located exactly where we expect it to be. 

I think the student's real concern, and what she was actually getting at, was a worry that maybe her unique personality wouldn't shine through. Well, remember, the only purpose of a resume is to get you an interview. That means at this stage of the application process it's far more beneficial for you as a job seeker to showcase your skills rather than your personality. Style doesn't belong in a resume. After all, it's a resume, not Facebook. 

I feel the need again to remind all job seekers to always keep in mind that when it comes to landing a job it is all about what the employer wants - and what the employer wants from your resume is simply to determine whether or not you meet the qualifications. 

But don't employers also care deeply about whether or not your personality and style are good fit for the culture of their organization? Yes and the proper place to demonstrate that will be during your interview, not in your resume. 

The Providers of ‘No'
March 6, 2014 8:36 AM by Renee Dahring
Ready for my rant?

Over the past year or two, I've noticed an increase in physician groups engaging in negative campaigning directed toward NPs. Could it have always been present but I just hadn't noticed? Or is the negativity a reaction to the numerous bills that have been introduced in several states to remove barriers and allow fully independent NP practice? The conspiracy theorist in me suspects the latter.

Whatever the reason, I am now aware. I have also detected some common themes that have emerged often enough that I have to believe they have to be carefully crafted "talking points."

They go something like this:

The horror story. A case that is so uncommon and rare will be presented to illustrate that even the most common of illnesses can't possibly be managed without the skill of an MD. "I just saw a patient in clinic last week who had an earache and it actually turned out to be an ancient medieval disease that hasn't been seen in a century! Thank goodness I saw them and not the NP!" The purpose of this is to scare the consumer into believing they are only one step away from a medical disaster at any given time and only a physician can save them.

Go team go! After decades, MDs have apparently just discovered the "team." Of course, by team they don't mean themselves, they just mean YOU. NPs need to be in teams that are led by physicians. "We cannot have patient-centered care unless physicians are part of the team!" Forgive me if I am a tad cynical when I hear this claim. I mean, what's been stopping them? They have essentially been running the healthcare show for years and until now haven't been very interested in true team care.

Do no harm. Organized medicine has cleverly repurposed this classic phrase and is now using it to defend the status quo. "Gosh, we wouldn't want to make any changes until we can be SURE that this will solve all our healthcare access problems and not fragment care any further." We are meant to believe that fragmentation of care really only occurs when patients are seen by NPs. Fragmentation is perfectly acceptable when docs own the urgent care clinics (and hire NPs and PAs to staff them).

Is it just me or are the organized medicine groups starting to sound like the "providers of no"?

"No problems with the current system"

"No need to change"

"No solutions"

It's a shame a few vocal physicians are sending such a negative message.

Selling Your Salary
February 19, 2014 4:40 PM by Renee Dahring
I usually conduct a brief survey when I speak to groups about job searching. I ask participants to rank a list of topics to indicate where they feel they need the most assistance. The choices are: resumes, cover letters, finding job openings, negotiating and interviewing. Across the board the recipients choose negotiating to discuss. This holds true whether I query new grads or seasoned clinicians.  

The results are not so surprising when you consider that the market has been improving for both our professions. A few years ago it was a challenge to find a job, much less get an actual job offer. Now that jobs are relatively easy to land, we now have the luxury of focusing more on our compensation. 

"Nobody likes to talk about money, but everyone wants to be paid," a former colleague of mine used to say. As a profession the idea of negotiating tends to make us a bit squeamish. Publicly we are seen as healers, and the implication is that we shouldn't really be talking about money. However, privately we are like everyone else who has a mortgage and bills to pay. 

Our backgrounds and education don't do much to prepare us for negotiation either. If you listen to the so-called "experts" you will be lead to believe all negotiations are a contentious back and forth horse-trading type affair. You know, an endless cycle of smoky backroom deals where they make an offer, you counter offer, then they counter your counter, and continue ad nauseum. No wonder most of us suffer from "negotia-phobia"! 

Out of curiosity I attended a breakout session on negotiating at a national conference. The level of anxiety in the room was palpable as participants we treated to a summary of "tactics." It was there that I had an epiphany. This wasn't a talk on conducting negotiations, it was a lecture on how to make demands! 

I realized that an essential key concept was missing.

Before you can negotiate, you must first make the sale. It's only after making the sale that you can begin to have a conversation of the terms of the deal. 

So if you want to have a less stressful negotiation, then study sales. You will learn a sale does not start with a price. It starts with both parties coming to an agreement on the need for the product. Think about the last time you made a large purchase. There were likely many features and benefits you didn't even know you needed until the sales person pointed them out. By then, you were happy to pay the asking price.     

How to Incorporate Student Experience
February 5, 2014 5:50 PM by Renee Dahring
Dear Career Coach:

I am an experienced PA and was reading your resume tips for NPs. However, I'm wondering about your guidance on listing clinical rotations. You mentioned listing clinical rotations is only a good idea if you are a new grad NP. Do you think the same applies for PAs who have completed rotations in surgery and other procedural specialties? (ER, general, surgical, derm/plastics, etc.)

Dear Reader:

To answer this question you should ask yourself:

  1. Will it confuse the reader as to my status? i.e., new grad vs. experienced
  2. Is the experience pertinent? 
  3. Does it make me more competitive?

Generally, whether you are an NP or PA, if you have obtained your first position it's time to retire the student rotations section from your resume. One of the reasons is to eliminate confusion for the prospective employer. It is one way of saying "I am no longer a new graduate - I am a practicing clinician with actual work experience." 

If you are a new graduate, your student rotation section is the most effective method to demonstrate to the employer that you possess the pertinent skills. What you did as a student is really the only valid experience you have in the advanced practice role. And because the job opening is for an advanced practice clinician (not an RN or EMT) this section becomes crucial. 

Many new grads mistakenly believe their RN or other healthcare experience is going to be more valuable than it really is and they will devote too much space on their resume to their previous non NP/PA jobs.

It's OK to briefly include your previous healthcare positions on your resume but you are far better off putting more emphasis on outlining your student clinical rotations. Why? Because your RN or EMT skills aren't going to give you much of an advantage if your competition is experienced NPs and PAs. And quite frankly, if an employer wishes to know more about your jobs prior to school they will ask you in the interview. 

In your example of seeking specialty practice, I believe that your student rotation experience is pertinent and would make you more competitive. Since specialty rotations can vary from student to student the prospective employer would have no idea that you had spent time in the related rotation. Speaking of pertinent, I would only include the rotation(s) that applies to the job you are seeking or you risk violating the above criteria. 

To avoid confusion of your status, I would note your student experience in a separate section from your work experience and clearly label the section "related experience." Keep it brief, include information such as the number of hours, the types of cases and identify your responsibilities and accomplishments.

Your cover letter is also another avenue for you to expand on the past experiences you had as a student.

Interviewing Attitude
January 15, 2014 2:54 PM by Renee Dahring
During the course of interviewing for a new job you are sure to be asked for the reason you are leaving your current job. How you answer this question is important. Let me guide you through a little exercise to assist you in formulating your response. 

First, I would like you to make a list all the reasons you want to leave your current position. Maybe it's the work atmosphere or maybe your have a boss who is a micromanager. Or perhaps the nurses are hard to get along with and making your workday miserable. Politics - there are always office politics.

It could be your work schedule you dislike, such as the hours or days you are working. And then there are the patients - too few or too demanding - it's usually one or the other. Or pay, could be that you feel that you are not being paid what you are worth and you don't see a raise anywhere in your future. 

Great, now that you have the negatives out of your system please tear up that list and never speak of it again. 

Instead, I want you to replace the list with all the reasons you want a new position. And this list is going to focus on all the positives of a job change. In this list you will reframe being "sick of your current dysfunctional co-workers" to "seeking new people and new challenges." You desire "opportunities for growth" and you have "achieved the maximum potential growth at your current job."

Of course you will remark on how much you have learned, and how you will use that knowledge in your next position. Your dissatisfaction with your pay should be put on the backburner until you are actually negotiating an offer and not brought up as a reason for leaving your current job. I am presuming that you did enough homework prior to the interview to be assured that the pay range for the new job meets your expectations. If you don't already know the pay they are offering then shame on you!

My point with all this is that you need to project a positive attitude during your interview. Find a way to put a positive spin on your experiences. Nobody wants to hire someone who is a complainer or who is negative. Employers put a great deal of weight and importance on behavior. How you act during an interview is a proxy of how you might act with your colleagues, and more importantly, how you might act with a patient. 

Oh, and if you have been taking your work complaints to your social media page you might want to do some turbo deleting. 

2014: New Year, New Graduates, New Advice
January 2, 2014 4:27 PM by Renee Dahring
For years I have counseled new graduates to hold off on applying for jobs not only until they had graduated, but ideally until they had a date scheduled to take their boards. I based my advice on feedback from employers. 

In many states, passing the boards would legally permit new grad NPs to practice, however they could not be credentialed by insurers until they were licensed. This would present a problem for employers who could not afford to be paying a clinician who was unable to generate any revenue. 

For the last few years there have also been a large number of applicants for each job. This served as a disincentive to hire someone who had not yet even graduated. I mean, why wait for 2-3 months for a practitioner when there are so many other applicants who are available to start in a week or two?   

I also used to warn new grads not to expect to land a primary care job right out of school. Primary care is a highly desired practice site and historically has very low turnover. Be realistic, I would tell them, and consider a specialty. 

Well, I would like to announce a major change for new grads or soon to be grads. Due to a market shift most employers are now willing to entertain your applications earlier! 

I am officially revising my previous advice. If you are graduating in May you can now begin applying as early as March. I don't know that I would send out applications any earlier than March though. Don't worry -- if you prefer to wait that's OK too. It won't hurt your prospects. The last few weeks of the program are usually fairly stressful and adding a job search into the mix might not be for everyone. 

The other change for new grads is that it is no longer unrealistic to pursue a primary care position. As you probably all know the demand for primary care providers has risen and many new positions have opened. And many of these new primary care jobs are new grad friendly too. 

Great news for 2014 graduates, this year is shaping up to be a good year for you. 

The Twelve Steps of Rejection, Part 2
December 18, 2013 3:57 PM by Renee Dahring
This week I am finishing up with the last half of my list of the 12 reasons why your resume may have been rejected.  

6. Too generic. You submitted a one-size-fits-all resume. Job seekers often fall into the trap of thinking that they only need to create ONE resume. In today's job market employers want to see resumes that are tailored to each position. Customizing your resume shows an employer that you are interested in that specific position and that you cared enough to take a few minutes to craft a resume that fits. This is one of the reasons why I don't advocate hiring someone to create your resume for you. One resume simply cannot meet the requirements of every position. 

5. The job skills you listed sound suspiciously like the definition of an NP or PA. I read a lot of resumes and for some reason in the majority of them the job seeker describes their work experience with some version of this: "Performs physicals, interprets labs, prescribing and patient education" or "manage acute and chronic conditions." To which I say, "No kidding?" 

4. Mind the gaps! Dates have to be sequential. You must explain any gaps in your employment that are longer than a month. Unaccounted for time in your resume is a huge red flag. If you were out of work then acknowledge the fact with a brief entry so that you don't look like you are hiding anything. There are lots of legitimate reasons that you may have been unemployed but an employer just sees the gaps. If you were out on maternity leave, caring for a family member, or the last clinic you worked at went broke and laid you off then just say it! 

3. "TLTR" Do you know what that means? "Too long to read." Resumes that are more than 2 pages tend to get ignored. Recruiters and hiring managers skim when reviewing a resume. This means that you better have your most important info on the top of the first page or it may not be seen. And the more that you can have on the first page the better because the reader may never get to the 2nd and 3rd pages.  

2. Show your credentials. Believe it or not job seekers often forget to include their licenses and certifications. NPs are particularly prone to omitting their nursing license on a resume. This is critical, because the first reviewer may actually be a computer program, and if you leave off credentials you may appear not to meet the requirements of the job. 

1. Yadda, yadda, yadda. Get to the point. Resumes that contain too much irrelevant information, such as non-pertinent, non-medical jobs or skills, obscure the very point you wished to make. Employers are only interested in reading what qualifies you for their position. Remember, the purpose of the resume is to market yourself and get you an interview. Irrelevant information does not accomplish that goal. 

Editor's note: Click here to check out reasons 12-7.

The Twelve Steps of Rejection
December 4, 2013 2:58 PM by Renee Dahring
Hey, it's not the Twelve Days of Christmas, but to get into the spirit of the season I will share with you twelve reasons that can cause your resume to be rejected (and employers will never tell you!).

12. You live too far away. The out of state address and phone number on your resume have employers concerned that your relocation might turn into their headache. They worry that you won't be able to sell your home, your family might talk you out of moving and finally that because you don't have ties to the community you won't stick around. 

11. Your resume showed up by snail mail or fax. I know it's almost 2014, but there are still a few applicants out there that insist on submitting a resume the old fashioned way. Hard copies end up in the trash or in a pile on a desk. It's a digital world and employers are a little frightened by job seekers that aren't comfortable using technology.

10. Your resume is over formatted. You used so many tabs, tables or special effects and formatting doo-dads that when you uploaded or cut and pasted your resume into the employers online application system it became a garbled mess and totally unreadable. 

9.  You applied for every job that was posted and therefore you now have multiple applications in the system. This can be a red flag for employers. Applying for anything and everything makes you look either desperate or like you really aren't sure what it is you want. 

8.  Missing dates. Contrary to what you may have heard you need to include the date of your graduation and for each place of employment.  When applicants omit dates it makes an employer think the job seeker may be trying to hide something. In fact, many employers have their applicant tracking systems set up to automatically exclude applications with missing dates. 

7. You decided to go with a functional format rather than chronological. I know some job seekers do this because they believe by putting a bunch of the keywords from the job description in to a "skills" section it is more likely to trigger a match. The trouble with this strategy is that while it may indeed get the computer to flag you as a match it doesn't do so well with a human reviewer. Detaching your skills from the setting where you performed them just creates confusion. It's important for an employer to know where and when you last used these skills. Oh, and it's really obvious to a "live" person that you were trying to game the system by loading up the keywords.  

Stayed tuned! I will finish the list in my next blog. 

The Key to Your Next Job
November 20, 2013 2:19 PM by Renee Dahring
Historically, employers often have had some confusion when it comes to our professions. I'm sure you have all become quite accustomed to the question "What is the difference between a PA and an NP?" And even more likely, you are quite well versed in explaining the differences. 

Usually we don't mind giving the contrast and comparison speech but on occasion we do get a little testy when we see the group we belong to being excluded from a job posting. Especially when we know it is a job we can do just as well as the other group can. As healthcare has evolved, we have become more interchangeable, and for the majority of positions, one group is just as fully capable and qualified to do the job as the other group.  

Sometimes when we see a job opening but note that our discipline is excluded we take it upon ourselves to "educate" the employer and actively urge them to consider hiring one of our group. I tend to discourage this if you are a job seeker because you end up sounding pushy and preachy. As a recruiter I could offer this sort of advice all the time - and get away with it. But then my relationship to the employer was different and I could play the role of the "wise advisor". 

I also routinely advise my candidates not to apply for jobs of the other profession. For example, if the ad said they wanted a PA, then an NP should not apply. I still stand behind that statement because generally speaking it's not going to work out in your favor for the same reasons I mentioned above. Also because employers are gradually getting more savvy about NPs vs PAs and don't tend to mix us up quite as much anymore.

But if you are an NP there is an exception to my rule and it just may open up a batch of undiscovered opportunities for you. An employer's confusion might just be the key to your next job.

I'm talking about clinical nurse specialist CNS positions. It seems that many employers don't really understand the difference between CNS and NP. I get it. Clinical Nurse Specialist could innocently be confused with Advanced Practice Nurse - or Advanced Practice Clinician. Throw the word "nurse" or "clinician" into any title and voila! Easy mistake.

So NPs, don't overlook the CNS openings. It might be well worth your time to call and check it out. Chances are, employers will welcome your application. Odds are that you are what they were looking for all along. 

Bad Resume Advice
November 6, 2013 9:29 AM by Renee Dahring
I read a lot of resume advice. I like to keep up with what others are telling you to do.  

I realized even when I was a new graduate NP that much of the resume guidance I was receiving was not particularly helpful. I could sense that it wasn't geared toward the medical professions, much less applicable to a nurse practitioner.

Even the placement services at universities and colleges seemed to be a bit clueless when it came to resumes for our professions. This hasn't changed much. In fact it might be worse now that the online job boards are getting into the act and have started handing out resume and job search advice, too.   

I can place much of what I read into three categories: 

  1. Ok advice
  2. Questionable new and trendy advice
  3. Sad and outdated information

The hardest part for you as an NP or PA is figuring out which is which. Let me help you.

The majority of the new and trendy advice is not going to fly in our professions. For instance, the latest recommendation I saw was for something they call the "talking resume". Near as I could tell, it is an audible version of your resume. I also read that you should include a photo of yourself on the back of your resume - exactly how this would work in a resume that is submitted in electronic format is rather sketchy. But at any rate both of these tactics should be avoided.

What you as a PA or NP job seeker should understand is that this type of advice is geared towards people seeking positions in new and trendy industries such as web development, advertising and some innovative new business models and it won't adapt well to healthcare. No matter how cutting edge we believe ourselves to be, you will find it generally isn't going to go over well if you step that far out of the box with your job applications. 

When it comes to outdated info you will read well-meaning advice about paper choices (hello! 2001 is calling and wants its snail mail resume back). 

Alternate formats seem to be popular topics as well. In our profession we strongly prefer the chronological format over the functional format. If you want to impress us please, please don't give us a resume with your skills in a separate section that is detached from the position where you performed said skills. 

And speaking of outdated, if you're instructed to begin your resume with an "objective" you should be aware that this advice is soooo 5 years ago. And furthermore, there is no longer any reason to end with "references upon request". Duh. 

I am also still seeing recommendations for those of you over 40 to omit graduation dates from your education because it may give away your age. BAD ADVICE. Leaving off ANY dates can be a red flag and may disqualify you.

Privacy and Confidentiality
October 16, 2013 3:16 PM by Renee Dahring
I don't know about you, but there isn't a day that goes by when I don't have some sort of umm....interesting experience at work. I understand how awfully tempting it is to jump on Facebook or Twitter and share the events of my day with all 100+ or so of my closest "friends". It's so very rewarding to watch a post collect "likes" and snarky remarks, isn't it? 

Periodically I feel the need to remind all of you to use caution when posting on social media. I'm sure you have all heard the warnings about how employers are Googling applicants to see what they have been up to online, but did you know that what you post might get you into some hot water (and by hot water I mean fired) with your current employer? 

Posting a heartwarming or funny story about a patient might seem harmless enough but all it takes is for someone to recognize either themselves or someone they know in your post and BINGO! You have just violated patient confidentiality. Buh-bye. Oh, and if losing your job isn't bad enough, it's possible for you to be sued, too. 

Ok, so that covers social media, but there are other ways you to get in trouble on the internet too. Beware the "most interesting patient" submissions. Often popular blogs or websites that cater to health professionals will ask you to submit a case study or encounter as part of a contest or promotion. Or maybe you are responding to a case study with an example of your own. Sounds innocent doesn't it? Actually, the risk of "outing" a particular patient in this instance might be even greater since your colleagues and/or employer might be also visiting the same website. 

These contests and forums are great learning experiences, but they make the recruiter in me a little nervous and I advise you to exercise some caution if you decide to contribute. Anytime you are relating a story about a current or former patient you should alter or change enough of the details and identifying characteristics to be sure that no one will recognize the identity of your patient. 

And don't be lulled into thinking that any website or social media can be "private". Facebook has recently announced changes that are going to make all your posts more public regardless of your settings. Even information on so-called secure and password protected members-only forums or paid journal sites can be vulnerable. Firewalls can malfunction and data can be left exposed. Sharing can easily occur by using the cut and paste feature. Next thing you know your story has made its way onto someone's blog or Facebook status.   

Is Locum Tenans Work for You?
October 2, 2013 4:19 PM by Renee Dahring

I have been considering pursuing locum tenens work for a year or so. I want to know your opinion of the option of becoming a career locum tenens provider. How is that perceived in the community? How does that affect one's career in the long term? Is it better for me to settle down in a more permanent position?   

Dear Job Seeker: 

"Locum tenens" is a Latin phrase which means "to hold the place of, or to substitute for" and these positions have been around a long time. You may also hear these jobs referred to as "temporary" or "travel" positions.  

There are many reasons that a practice might seek a Locum tenens provider. It could be that one of their permanent staff is on an extended leave or absence. It may also be due to a temporary increase in patient volume or the launch of a new program.

Sometimes, organizations are under a hiring freeze and so they cannot afford additional permanent staff but do have the ability to bring in a locum provider. The last few years we have seen an increase in temporary positions due to the uncertainty of the healthcare market. Although, if I think back over all the years I have been in this business, it seems that the demand for locum clinicians tends to be strong in almost every type of economy. 

It takes a certain type of person to do a locum assignment and not everyone is cut out for this type of work. Fortunately for you, and others like you who do temporary work, this is good news because employers tend to like the characteristics that make you a good locum candidate.

They understand that to be successful as a locum provider you must be very flexible and adaptable, as well as independent. They also recognize that because you will have worked in several different types of practices and locations that you will have a wider scope of experiences. Basically, you end up to be very well-rounded, which employers find impressive. As a recruiter I was thrilled to hire a "serial locum" provider because I knew that they would be a clinician with solid skills and confidence.

I speak from not only recruiting experience but also personal experience. I have been a professional locum tenens clinician from the beginning of my NP career (and I still am!). Some of my assignments have been quite lengthy, renewing repeatedly for year after year while others have been very short term.

Almost every clinic to which I have been assigned has offered me a permanent position - many locums do eventually hire on permanently at the end of an assignment - so lack of permanent employment opportunities has never been a concern.


Email Etiquette
September 18, 2013 3:22 PM by Renee Dahring
Today, it is inevitable that at some point during your job search you will be communicating with your potential employer via email.    

Email by nature tends to feel less formal than more traditional forms of communication and that can be a problem. Here are 5 rules to help you avoid common email mistakes. 

  1. Don't get too comfortable. You should always treat email correspondence the same way you would if you were writing a traditional letter. Always use a standard greeting and a closing in every email, every time. I always thought it was rather rude when a candidate couldn't even take the time to include a salutation at the beginning of the email or in closing didn't bother to thank me for my time or at the very least wish me a nice day. 
  2. Don't be mysterious or vague with your subject line. It's not unusual for hiring managers to receive dozens, or even hundreds of emails if they are handling several open positions. Subject lines like "job application" can get easily get lost or passed over in a busy inbox. If you want to increase the chances your email will be read then try to be as specific as possible in your subject line. "Experienced family NP for urgent care position" or "PA with 5 years of surgical experience for inpatient position" is much more eye catching.   
  3. Watch your spelling and grammar. Remember, you are applying for a job not texting your BFF. Do not use abbreviations or expressions such as LOL.  And never, ever include a smiley face. J  You should always write in full sentences, use spellcheck and go easy on the punctuation!!!  Exclamation points have no place in a professional email. 
  4. Please write an actual letter. Emails that say only "I am interested in your job" or "my resume is attached" are an epic fail. Seriously, if you can't bother to write any more than a line or two you might as well just come out and say "I don't value your position" in your email. 
  5. Re-evaluate your email address. If it's not professional sounding then create a new one. The best email addresses are your name@whatever.com. Oh, and if you are currently employed don't use your work email when you are applying for a new job. That just looks bad. And lastly, check your email often if you are job searching! 


About this Blog

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