15 Essential Nurse Practitioner Job Contract Negotiation Strategies

Written By: Brittney Bertagna, BSN, RN

You’ve accepted an interview and are hoping for the call to accept or decline a new position. Maybe you already had the interview and are now considering your options with different NP positions you have been offered. Whether this is your first position or your 5th, this article will be helpful to ensure you are considering all aspects of your contract and negotiating to your full potential. A nurse practitioner job contract negotiation can be an intimidating step in the journey to your dream job. Don’t let this deter you from getting what you deserve. Wondering how to negotiate a nurse practitioner job contract? Here are 15 essential strategies for nurse practitioner job contract negotiations. It is essential to understand at least the basics of negotiations in order to be successful in your negotiations for whatever NP position you are looking for.

What Is A Nurse Practitioner Job Contract?

A nurse practitioner job contract is all of the nitty-gritty of the position you will accept or deny. There will be details about salary, working conditions, benefits, and much more. Within the contract, you will find specific details regarding all aspects of your job. Most employers will not sit and read through it with you and it will be up to you to make sure you understand all aspects of it prior to signing the document. These are binding agreements that keep both the employee and employer accountable for the predetermined conditions from the very beginning.

5 Reasons Why Nurse Practitioner Job Contract Negotiation Is Essential

1. You have the opportunity to negotiate for more money at the start of your time with the company, which in turn could lead to thousands of more dollars throughout your time with the company.
2. Allows both parties to sit down and agree on, and have a legally binding agreement on, what acceptable working conditions are to you, patient ratios, and workload.
3. Contracts are an opportunity for both parties to mutually agree upon benefits packages and retirement compensation.
4. Contract negotiations enable a line of communication to eventually help improve the working conditions overall within the organization. Without a time to formally sit down and discuss what your expectations are from the company, they have no way of knowing what their employees want or need without that line of communication.
5. Contracts can help build and establish lasting relationships with colleagues. Allows for trust to be established from the beginning of the relationship and allows for continued communication throughout your time with the company.


(The following 15 Essential Strategies can make it easy for you to negotiate your Nurse Practitioner Job Contract and help you in achieving your personal and professional goals.)

1. Make a good first impression

First impressions can have a huge impact on what a potential client is willing to negotiate when it comes to a nurse practitioner contract negotiation. Feeling confident puts you in the best position possible in the negotiation phase of the hiring process. Remember they have interviewed you and now it’s time for you to “interview” them by considering these things within the nurse practitioner contract.

2. Know your value to the company

Wait for them to say the first number when you negotiate an NP job contract. Know your value and know what value you can bring to the company. Companies will always try to pay the least amount possible. Your goal is to sell yourself so they understand why they should pay you more. This nurse practitioner job contract negotiation strategy can be useful in many other aspects of the contract negotiation process, but with regards to salary and pay, it is a good idea to see what their budget for the position is first. If they are willing to share that information, then that gives you a great place to start. They might say a number higher than you were expecting. At that point, you are able to negotiate within their budget or be ready to explain why they should pay you a higher amount.

3. Do your research

Know what you can realistically ask for when it comes to nurse practitioner job contract negotiations. Do your research into what a price range might be based on your specialty, location, qualifications, and experience. Know exact numbers of comparable salaries to provide and prove your understanding and worth of the position you are potentially accepting. Coming in with exact data will show the employer that you know what you are doing and know what you are worth. This is where you calculate all of the additional certifications and years of experience to increase the baseline pay. Anything that is in addition to what is the minimum requirement for this job position is a good place to start. Think back to the posted job listing. Were there any "preferred" requirements that you have? They might have been what got you the interview or position over others, but know they want you for those reasons. GET PAID FOR IT!

4. Understand your personal boundaries

Know what your boundaries are when it comes to nurse practitioner job contracts. If you need a certain level of benefits to support your family, do not leave without it. If you are willing to work longer hours to have more time off or a more flexible work schedule, know that ahead of time. Everyone's boundaries will be different, but knowing this before you set foot in the negotiation will only benefit the overall outcome and satisfaction of the exciting new position. Know where you are and are not willing to negotiate. They will be doing the same. Of course, they also have boundaries, but make sure yours align with the company’s prior to signing the contract. Having a solid backbone and understanding yourself will make it easier for you to negotiate an NP job contract.

5. Don’t be afraid to walk away

One of the best contract negotiation strategies for nurse practitioners is that when it's not what you want, walk away. Never be afraid to say no. You are asked to work for them, and now it is up to you, not them, to make the decision. You have two options. Yes, the contract negotiations have given you everything you desire. Or no. Walk away if it does not feel right or you are not getting close to what you want.

It might seem okay in the beginning, but remember this is the binding contract for the entirety of the position you hold. Often key points of the contract are overlooked because of the excitement of the new opportunity and can lead to unpleasant working conditions when the excitement is over. From their perspective there are other people that could do the same job, find where they are willing to negotiate and where they are better off finding a different person. There are always other NP jobs out there for you to take, use this to your advantage. If they are not negotiating fairly or you are uncomfortable at any point before signing.

6. Use your resources

Another contract negotiation strategy for nurse practitioners is to use your resources. Your individual state’s board of nursing is the best resource if you have specific questions related to your situation. They will be able to give you the most up-to-date and accurate information regarding your personal situation. Making sure your contract aligns with your scope of practice is crucial, and those guidelines can vary state by state so having resources like your board of nursing is a great thing to have on your side. Using this as a strategy can ease your mind and place your focus on the more exciting points of this new transition. If you have any confusion, do not be afraid to ask for clarification. The more research you do beforehand, the more confident you will feel going into the negotiation. This strategy can set you apart from others and will prove you have committed time and energy into making sure this position will be a lasting fit for you.

7. Understand the expectations

Another good nurse practitioner job contract negotiation strategy is to thoroughly understand your job expectations. What is the time off or vacation policy like, and also make sure you understand the benefits package associated with your contract. As previously mentioned, this might be the most important part of the negotiation process. Other than the salary, this is the biggest part of your overall job satisfaction and ability to have a work-life balance. Knowing exactly what they expect of you day-to-day as well as year by year is important to align with the companies vision. Do they allow for vacations or time off for planned events, or are you going to be left scrambling to find coverage as your family packs their bags to leave with or without you? Will the benefits be adequate for everyone in your family that needs coverage? Consider the worst-case scenario in these parts of the negotiations.

8. Sell yourself

When it comes to nurse practitioner employment agreements this is your time to sell yourself. Sell yourself in the interview and make them think they are crazy to have you walk away from the open position they are trying to fill. Do research on the company you are interviewing with so that you are able to match with their values from the beginning. Your negotiation starts at the start of the interview. The best strategy for this is to find the core values and mission statement posted online with regards to the company you have interred for. This will provide an excellent understanding of what they are looking for as well as what sets them apart from other healthcare facilities. Use this to your advantage by doing your best to match their values within the interview. Taking this into your NP contract negotiation can also give you leverage into what they might be willing to offer and what they are not willing to budge on. By following this, you will be making them want to pay more for you to work for them. They will begin to see you as an asset to their company rather than an expense.

9. Know what others in your specialty make

Researching a realistic number and compensation package for the area of specialty you are interviewing for is a great nurse practitioner contract negotiation strategy. When you know what others in your similar situation are making it gives you leverage if the position you are applying for is not wanting to easily increase their budget to gain your employment. Even with just a few minutes researching the topic, or talking with a few nurse practitioners that you know, you can build an understanding of what industry norms are for your particular specialty.

10. Pay attention during the interview

An effective nurse practitioner job contract negotiation strategy is to listen for key points within the interview and don’t be afraid to ask questions for clarification when needed. Within the interview, you will also get a good idea of what they expect of you in terms of their business model and how you will be earning your income. Take into account all of these factors when negotiating your contract. Make sure to ask questions! If they did not touch on something specific in the interview or you need clarification while in the interview, ASK! Are there weekend or night shift differentials that increase your pay to factor into the base rate? All of the details matter when it comes to an NP job contract negotiation.

11. Be prepared to answer hard questions

Be prepared for the tough questions when entering a nurse practitioner job contract negotiation. Do you have a gap in employment? Did you leave a job after only six months? Be prepared for them to ask why and be prepared to have an answer that paints you in a pretty light. The interviewer’s goal is to hire someone that is going to be an employee for a long time. It costs businesses money when employee turnaround is high, so they are doing their due diligence to make sure you are going to stick around.

12. Come prepared with questions of your own

Just like you should be prepared for tough questions coming your way, you should be just as prepared to ask the tough questions for yourself when going into a nurse practitioner contract negotiation. Bring up the difficult topics that you know they are dreading. This will put you in the position to gain the information you specifically want instead of waiting and finding out later on that there was something you wish you had known before you signed a contract.

13. Build rapport from the beginning

Build rapport throughout the contract negotiation process. By doing this, it will make it harder for them to say no to your requests. Remember, they want you to work for them, be kind, and show interest in them personally to prove your understanding of the role you will be filling, as well as gain insight into who they might be looking for. Be real and true to yourself, but know that building a solid rapport can help you achieve your personal and professional goals at a much faster pace than otherwise.

14. Come early and prepared

Being prepared when you come to your interview is a great NP job contract negotiation strategy. It shows you are a professional and can be seen as reliable. Showing up prepared doesn’t have to be hard. Just make sure you have a few copies of your resume and/or cover letter, references that you have on standby, and make sure you are early or on time for the scheduled appointment time.

15. Shadow and speak with your coworkers

One of the best NP job contract negotiation strategies is to ask to shadow or speak with current employees working in your specific area. Many companies have no problem letting you talk to current employees, and if they don’t want you speaking with your would-be coworkers to make sure you are a fit then you should probably take it as a warning sign.

10 Must-Check Things Before Signing A Nurse Practitioner Job Contract

1. Know the pay breakdown. Make sure you understand how and what you will be paid and when.
2. What are the working conditions like? Are there call hours that you will have to take? What does staffing look like? How are things managed day-to-day?
3. What will your schedule be? Will it be routine or is there flexibility in the schedule?
4. What is the time off policy? How do you call out if you have an emergency or are sick? Is paid time off granted by seniority or on a first come first served basis?
5. What are your coworkers like? Ask to shadow someone so you can have privacy away from interviews to discuss how the employees like their job.
6. Research the company and bring up the hard topics in the interview to get them out of the way.
7. Understand what you want out of this job. Do you just want experience and plan on leaving in a year or do you want to find a job that you stay at for the rest of your career?
8. Is there a known reputation about the establishment and is what you heard the same as your personal experience with the company?
9. Will you be happy halfway through the length of your contract?
10. What is the turnover rate of your coworkers?

My Final Thoughts

With this article, it is my hope that you have gained some valuable tips for how to negotiate a nurse practitioner job contract. These 15 essential strategies for nurse practitioner job contract negotiations are the start that you need to get the nurse practitioner job of your dreams. Do not settle for less than everything you want out of a job.

Brittney Bertagna, BSN, RN
Brittney Bertagna is currently a nurse and writer in Las Vegas, NV. After receiving a bachelor’s degree in business administration she completed nursing school and became a registered nurse. While working a night shift in the neonatal ICU she went back to school to get her second bachelor’s degree in nursing from Western Governors University. Now she enjoys working with children in the surgical setting as well as with her adult patients as an infusion nurse.