Evaluating Your Nurse Practitioner Benefits Package

It's worth more thank you think...

When I accepted my nurse practitioner position, I paid attention to salary alone. As a young, healthy NP, health insurance plans and premiums didn't weigh on my mind. Aware of the need to start socking away a nest egg, I considered a retirement plan beneficial but certainly not a must. Like myself, I find that many nurse practitioners I talk with are concerned primarily with salary rather than other components of a compensation package. Are we all making a huge mistake?

Benefits from paid time off to retirement incentives may be more or less important to individual nurse practitioners depending on personal situations and resulting financial interests. While in your 20's, for example, retirement may seem a distant concern but incentives such as a 401K match are often as good, or better than, cold hard cash. If you're looking to cash in on your nurse practitioner career, evaluating your entire compensation package is essential. How much is your benefits package worth?

Health Insurance

Evaluating health insurance plans can be a tricky proposition. Some companies employing nurse practitioners offer no health insurance benefit at all. Others help cover part or all of the cost of health insurance premiums saving the NP thousands of dollars each year. 

To consider how much an employer's health insurance benefit is worth, you need to consider two factors. First, look at the amount of the insurance premium you, the nurse practitioner, will be expected to pay each month. Second, look at the insurance plan's annual deductible or out-of-pocket maximum you will be expected to cover on your own before insurance kicks in. Which plan leaves you footing more of the bill for your medical care?

Malpractice Insurance

Most employers pay for nurse practitioner's professional liability coverage, but some offer better plans than others. Depending on your employment situation, you may need malpractice tail coverage, covering you for 'prior acts'. Tail coverage alone can cost thousands of dollars, so, malpractice insurance is a weighty benefit. Think twice about accepting a position that doesn't offer you adequate protection. 

Retirement Plan

As much as I hate to say it, you need to be setting aside a portion of your nurse practitioner salary towards retirement. Fortunately, many employers are willing to contribute to nurse practitioner's retirement coffers as well. Your company may contribute to your retirement plan regardless of what you deposit into the account. This is often determined as a percentage of your salary or earnings. Or, your company may match the amount you personally contribute to your account. A retirement benefit may easily amount to thousands of dollars each year - a benefit worth taking seriously in considering your next employment transition

Loan Repayment

Loan repayment may be offered in several forms. First, an employer may offer loan repayment directly from the company. Second, an employer may be qualified as a loan repayment site through a state or federal government program. The amount of medical need in the area where the hospital or clinic is located determines the type and amount of loan repayment as well as the nurse practitioner's likelihood to receive the benefit. Loan repayment may be worth as much as $60,000 over the course of a three year employment contract. 

Paid Time Off

Nurse practitioners often work unconventional hours or schedules. So, paid time off benefits for NPs vary widely. Some companies don't award PTO but allow nurse practitioners to request unpaid days off. Others give two, three or four weeks of paid time off. In some cases, nurse practitioners may be able to 'sell' unused days back to the employer for extra cash at the end of the year. 

Continuing Education Allowance and/or Licensing

Maintaining your nurse practitioner license isn't free. You will need to complete a specified number of continuing medical education hours. This can involve spending hundreds of dollars to attend a professional conference plus the cost of travel. Employers often give nurse practitioners a budget to spend on continuing medical education. This benefit is typically worth $1,000 to $4,000. Some companies allow NPs to reimburse themselves for licensing costs, such as a state license or DEA number, from this budget. Others reimburse for licensing fees outside of the nurse practitioner's CME budget

Sign-On Bonus 

Sign-On bonuses aren't universally offered to nurse practitioners, but a few employers do use the promise of cash up front to attract qualified NPs. Sign-on bonuses for nurse practitioners typically range from $2,000 to $10,000. A word of caution- if you leave the position before your contract is up, you may need to pay back all or a portion of the bonus you received. 

Relocation Reimbursement

Moving? Relocating for a job can be a significant expense. Employers will often reimburse for all or part-of the cost of your move. Make sure you iron out the details with the company beforehand so you know what is included in your relocation package. 

When you weight nurse practitioner job offers, evaluating and negotiating the proposed benefits package is a must. Together, these components can add thousands of dollars to your total compensation and should be taken into consideration when comparing multiple job opportunities. 

What is included in your benefits package?

 

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Comments

Erin,
I always love love love the valuable information you put out and recommend your site to all the student NPs I see. I'm currently working my first NP job for almost a year. Pay is less than I want AND without benefits. I calculate benefits can add 5-10K to a salary. However, I am gaining incredible experience and I do love everything else about it. My plan is to just stick it out while I work on opening my own practice with my husband who is a Chiropractor and is already well established. There are so many opportunities so I am keeping an open mind and current resume.

Lori

I recently moved from my first NP job to my second. I took a huge pay cut, but gained it back and then some in the benefits of "total compensation package". There is a lot to be had in additional benefits. Sometimes I still fantasize about that huge salary, as it is hard to quantify the benefits, but then I just start tallying all the extras and I know I made the right move.

CEB

Nothing!! at first I was offered 6 figures and medical insurance/dental. I could see the writing on the wall and saw that 40 salaried hours would turn into 60++ I declined and opted instead for an hourly position with no benefits. At least I'll get paid for the hours I actually work!

Overall, I am disappointed. I had gold plated benefits when I worked in another non-nursing profession

Jane

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