How Do I Negotiate a Contract With a Prospective Employer?

Carolyn Buppert, NP, JD


December 30, 2010


What should advanced practice nurses include in employment contract negotiations? What is the best approach to negotiate these items and what factors should the NP consider?

Response from Carolyn Buppert, NP, JD
Attorney, Law Office of Carolyn Buppert, PC, Bethesda, Maryland

Among the topics an advanced practice nurse (APN) might want to negotiate with a prospective employer are:

  • Duties: Will the APN be responsible for office visits only? Hospital visits? Nursing home visits? Home visits? Procedures? Administrative duties? On-call services?

  • Hours: What days and times will be worked? Patient hours and non-patient time for documentation, telephone calls, and research?

  • Compensation: What is the salary? Hourly rate or productivity-based compensation; bonuses?

  • Assistants: Will an assistant be assigned to the APN?

  • Benefits: Will the APN have health insurance (medical, dental, and disability)? How about a retirement plan, time off for vacation, illness, holidays, and personal leave?

  • Expenses paid by the employer: Association dues, journal subscriptions, continuing education, licensure fees, DEA number fees, hospital privilege application fees, beeper or cell phone, and/or mileage?

  • Form and manner of evaluation: Who evaluates the APN's performance, how often, and what is the basis for evaluation?

An employer may bring up the subject of restricting the employee's outside activities and also restricting the employee’s right to practice in the area after leaving the employer. I caution nurses not to give away their rights to future opportunities.

Approach the negotiations with an attitude of give and take. Determine what issues and terms are most important to you and figure out what you could give up in return for something you most want. If you are unwilling to accept certain terms, or a certain term must be in your contract, your best bet is to let the employer know that early on in the negotiations, and be prepared to walk away from the job offer if the employer cannot or will not accommodate those terms. If an employer presses you to agree to something you balk at, propose that you get something you want in return for giving the employer what he or she wants.

Factors to consider when negotiating include:

  • How much experience do you bring to the practice? (New nurse practitioners are not usually in as good a position for negotiating as experienced practitioners.)

  • How much competition is there for the position?

  • What other opportunities do you have or could you create if you can't negotiate decent terms with this employer?

For a more detailed discussion of this topic, see Negotiating Terms of Employment, by Carolyn Buppert.[1]


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