Comprehensive Nurse Practitioner Benefits Package (What Benefits Can You Expect?)
Written By: Lauren Jacobson MS, RN, WHNP-BC
Are you looking for your first job as a nurse practitioner (NP)? Or are you an established NP looking for a new challenge? Regardless of your reason for job hunting, you may be wondering what nurse practitioner benefits you should be asking about in your interview in addition to salary. Most employers will offer some form of a standard benefits package. This may include health insurance, paid time off, and some sort of retirement plan. However, nurse practitioners are in high demand and the competition for employers goes way beyond salary and basic benefits. Here we provide a detailed guide on what benefits for nurse practitioners may be available for you and how to go about getting them.
WHAT BENEFITS CAN YOU EXPECT IN A COMPREHENSIVE NURSE PRACTITIONER BENEFITS PACKAGE?
(The following is a list of 15 important benefits that you can expect in a comprehensive nurse practitioner benefits package.)
Wait, 401K? IRA? Pensions? Retirement plans can be tricky to understand before you start getting into the details of what your institution will offer you. We are not going to go into great detail on each of these but having a little background knowledge on what you are being offered is important for making an informed decision. Your nurse practitioner benefits package will likely include some form of a retirement plan. Check out Investopedia
to read into the details on what each plan can offer. What we want to make sure you’re asking about is MATCHING. When you get a job offer, ask your potential employer if they will match your retirement contributions, and when. Often employers will match a certain percentage of what you put into your retirement, but this may not start until after you’ve completed a year of work or some other commitment. Matching is becoming more and more common and can be a good negotiation point and way for you to make some extra money in the long term.
2. Health insurance
Like retirement, health insurance options can also be confusing. Don’t hesitate to ask HR to explain the details of the health insurance you are being offered. How much will you have to pay monthly? Will it be automatically deducted from your pay? Is it a high deductible? These questions will help you determine what other expenses you may have throughout the year, and what will be coming out of your salary. The employer offered health insurance is usually cheaper than purchasing it on your own, and you may have many different packages to choose from. Do your homework and leverage guidance from HR and other people in your life to help choose the right package for you and your family.
3. Paid time off
Paid time off (PTO) is one of the major nurse practitioner benefits that people want to negotiate outside of salary. A comprehensive nurse practitioner benefits package will include some form of PTO, but this can be broken down in different ways. This variability can lead to confusion for you regarding how much sick leave or vacation time you get off in a year. Additionally, sometimes the amount of leave is accrued over time. So, you may get 28 days off per year, but the 28 days are only available after a year of working. For example, if you accrue 3.9 hours of PTO per week, after 1 month of work you only have about 2 days to take off. Additionally, PTO can include sick leave, vacation, and holidays. For example, if there are 10 federal holidays that your institution observes annually, that’s coming out of your 28 days of PTO. Did you get sick for a week? Yup, you guessed it. There go another 5 days of leave. Make sure you understand the details of your PTO so that you can compare it to other offers and negotiate intelligently.
4. Life insurance
If you are a young NP and don’t have a family, life insurance may not be something you have even thought about. In most standard nurse practitioner benefits packages though, it’s likely to be something that is brought up. Many employers will offer some form of life insurance
, but depending on your situation you may need or want more. Examine your personal needs carefully and if you need to, ask HR if what you are being presented with is the only option or if there is more that the employer could offer you.
5. Disability insurance
Here’s one of those benefits for nurse practitioners that is less common in your benefits package. If you are injured or ill to the level where you cannot work for an extended period, disability insurance can kick in. Usually, this can be purchased through the federal government or a private company
. While this may be presented as an option to purchase during your discussion with your employer about benefits, keep in mind that you may be the one paying for it and your employer may not contribute to this.
6. Malpractice insurance
As a nurse practitioner, you should have malpractice insurance. As someone who is diagnosing and treating people as well as doing procedures, you must look out for yourself. Malpractice insurance coverage may not come up when you talk about standard benefits with your potential employer. This is one of the major benefits for nurse practitioners that you should be asking about. Ranging from about $500 to $670 per year
this is not cheap and your employer should help look out for your professional wellbeing by covering it.
7. Licensure reimbursement
Like malpractice insurance, there are many other costs associated with starting as an NP that can be negotiated with your benefits package. If you are moving to a new state for your job and will have to pay for licensure, see if you can be reimbursed for this. Many institutes will have some sort of pool to help cover licensure costs for your NP license and things like your DEA registration which is $731 per year
. As a requirement for practicing, these are costs that should be factored into a comprehensive nurse practitioner benefits package.
8. Continuing education funds
Depending on what professional body you are certified through you will have to complete a certain number of continuing education hours
to maintain your certification. Some continuing education hours can be done through online tests or at professional conferences or training. All of which can cost money. An employer who is invested in your professional growth will be more apt to include funding to cover some or all of your continuing education requirements.
9. Professional leave
To attend those important continuing education conferences, you will need time off from work. If your PTO is limited, you may want to inquire about a special leave bank for professional obligations. Having this as a part of your comprehensive nurse practitioner benefits package will enable you to attend those exciting conferences across the country with your former classmates.
10. Fitness benefits
Working in healthcare can take an immense toll on your physical, mental, and emotional health. Outside of healthcare, companies are taking an increasing interest in empowering their employees on their journeys to a healthier lifestyle. Sometimes this includes gym membership and/or fitness tracker discounts. Though these can have a minor impact on your wallet, they can have an immense impact on your quality of life. If fitness and physical wellbeing are highlighted in your employee benefits, it also signals that you are working for an organization that values its employees.
11. Loan forgiveness
We’ve talked about the cost of NP school before, and we know it’s not cheap
…so does your employer. Fortunately for you, there are many ways to get your loans paid off quickly and/or forgiven. Sometimes this comes directly in the form of employer contribution. Talk to HR and see if there is any form of loan forgiveness offered as a part of your nurse practitioner benefits package. Additionally, you can see if your place of employment is a federally qualified health center that makes you eligible for loan repayment through the National Health Service Corps
12. Relocation bonus
Are you looking at moving to a new state for your job? That can take quite the financial toll. Your employer may be willing to help if they include relocation costs in your benefits package. This is always worth asking about even if it’s not automatically included.
13. Signing bonus
Though not common per se, signing bonuses are becoming more mainstream in healthcare particularly with nurse practitioners as the demand is so high. Signing bonuses if offered at all can range immensely. If this is something that appeals to you as a part of your package decide what number, you are looking for and ask about it.
14. Professional organization membership
Being a member of professional nursing organizations
can have lifelong benefits including but not limited to staying up to date with the latest practice guidelines, access to job postings, conference and continuing education discounts, and networking opportunities. The cost of being a part of these organizations can be a deterrent. Institutions who value their NP’s professional growth may include the cost of these memberships in the benefits package or a pool for things like continuing education costs, and licensure reimbursement.
15. Administrative time
Though not something that’s included in a “benefits package” this is an important concept and something many new NPs forget to ask about. Just as you may be thinking to ask how many patients you are expected to see in a day, you should also ask if you have designated administrative time and if so, how much. This is time blocked off in your schedule (meaning you do not see patients) where you can return patient phone calls and work on your notes. If you’ve ever been stuck charting for hours after your last patient, then you know how essential this can be to your quality of life. Again, this reflects an employer who has their NP’s best interest at heart.
Every employer is different and what they offer and how they structure their benefits for nurse practitioners will vary. However, taking a deep look into what they are offering you outside of your salary can give you insight into how they value their employees. Get nosey and ask for details on what is included in your nurse practitioner benefits package and what is not.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ANSWERED BY OUR EXPERT
Do All Employers Offer A Nurse Practitioner Benefits Package?
From what I can tell yes, but the content and structure can vary immensely. Usually, it will include things like health insurance, life insurance, a retirement package, and time off. The amount of your health and life insurance that the employer pays for may vary as well as what type of insurance it is. The same goes for how your retirement package and time off are structured, as we previously discussed. As for the other things mentioned in this article it can vary. In my experience, things like licensure reimbursement and continuing education reimbursement or coverage were not mentioned outright, but when I asked there was a certain amount of money set aside for these things.
What Is Considered A Good Benefits Package For Nurse Practitioners?
A good benefits package considers all the needs of a nurse practitioner. For me, this includes the basics of comprehensive health insurance, life insurance, retirement plans, and paid time off, but also encompasses licensure costs, professional certification maintenance requirements, etc. This shows that the employer values you as a growing professional and is prepared to invest in your professional wellbeing for the long term.
Can You Negotiate Your Nurse Practitioner Benefits Package?
Absolutely! Or at least you should try to. Ultimately it depends on the employer whether or not it will be successful. I have been able to negotiate benefits in the past (such as coverage for licensure costs) while being rejected salary and PTO negotiations. It is important to remember that regardless of what you are negotiating, it does not hurt to try. The worst they will do is decline. They will not rescind the offer…and if they do, you do not want to work for them anyway.
Lauren Jacobson MS, RN, WHNP-BC
Lauren Jacobson is a registered nurse and women’s health nurse practitioner who is passionate about global health and gender-based violence prevention. She is Editor and an Advisory Board Member for the Global Nursing Caucus and volunteers with Physicians for Human Rights as a medical evaluator for asylum seekers.