Most nurse practitioners get into healthcare because they want to help people maintain good health. It’s an incredible, fulfilling career that stays interesting year after year. With that said, it’s also a challenging job that should be compensated well.

Nurse practitioners who have been offered positions at any kind of medical organization will need to negotiate a contract before they accept the position. This is a stressful process for many NPs as most have not had any training or experience in advocating for their compensation and benefits.

If you’re getting ready to negotiate a new contract, it pays to do some prep work beforehand. You need to know your worth and be able to communicate it to the organization you’ll be joining. Here are some tips for the negotiation process.

How to Prepare for Contract Negotiation

Before you get ready to negotiate, take a deep breath. You might be feeling nervous about negotiating your contract. Don’t be! It’s a standard step in the process and hiring managers will expect you to ask for favourable terms.

The negotiation process is all about who you are and what you want. What are your priorities when it comes to compensation and benefits? You need to believe in yourself enough to ask for what you deserve, and you need to be willing to walk away if the employer isn’t willing to work with you on putting together a fair compensation package. That can be a scary prospect, especially if you’re just starting in your career.

You will also need to consider how the job fits in with your career goals. Does the job offer you enough valuable experience to take a lower offer? Does the organization value and respect your skills and abilities? Those factors will influence the salary you’re willing to take.

Do Your Research

The most important step in the contract negotiation process takes place before you ever sit down with the hiring manager. You need to start by researching market rates. How much are nurse practitioners usually paid in your region? How much does experience affect that number?

Research is so important because you might have a salary range in mind, but you need to make sure it’s reasonable and realistic before you bring it up during the negotiation process. You also need to be clear about how low you’re willing to go so that if you need to, you can walk away.

Total compensation and benefits also matter. One organization might offer you a higher salary, but with less time off or without opportunities for ongoing education, for example. Another factor to consider is the compensation structure for nurse practitioners at each organization. Would you be paid on a salary, by the hour, by day, or by the patient?

Depending on the organization, there may be more or less wiggle room for salaries. Public organizations typically have stricter budgets than private healthcare companies. That’s something to keep in mind before you launch into the negotiations. Keep your expectations realistic, based on the situation.

Find Salary Ranges by Nurse Practitioner Specialty

General research is helpful, but you’ll also want to take a look at how your nurse practitioner’s speciality affects the average compensation in your region. In some areas, demand might be higher for some specialities than for others, affecting salaries and providing more leverage for applicants. Since many NPs don’t specialize, those who do often have more leverage in the negotiating process.

Take Stock of Your Biggest Selling Points

You need to be your own biggest advocate when negotiating your contract. While it’s important to be fair, reasonable, and realistic, this is not the time to downplay your skills and abilities. Know what sets you apart and what you can bring to the table so you can use that as leverage during negotiations! Make a list before negotiations begin so you don’t find yourself searching for something to mention during the discussions.

Tips for Renegotiating in Your Current Position

Contract negotiations don’t only take place when you’re looking for a new job. When your contract is ready to be renewed, you will have the opportunity to renegotiate and ask for more compensation.

Whenever you’re negotiating, be polite and stay optimistic, but know that your requests might be denied. The best way to enter into any negotiation is with data about your excellent work and a good attitude. An employer who sees your value will want you to stay on, even if it costs them a little more!

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Andrew Deen has been a consultant for startups in almost every industry from retail to medical devices and everything in between. He is currently writing a book about scaling up business and his experience implementing lean methodology.