In working with nurse practitioners from across the country as part of the MidlevelU Career Advisor Program, I’ve been exposed to job markets nationwide. From rural Alaska to New York City, the pulse of the healthcare economy varies from location to location. The number and types of job opportunities for nurse practitioners follow suit. Which state is home to the absolute worst job market for nurse practitioners?
Alabama is quite possibly the worst place to search for a job as an NP. Nurse practitioners I work with in the state often come to me desperate for help in finding a position. Initially, they’ve searched for a job within commuting distance of their home to no avail. Then, they consider relocating within the state or traveling for a position. Finally, many nurse practitioners living in Alabama get licensed in other states to open up their job search, or continue practicing in a nursing role waiting until an NP position finally opens up.
Why is the job market for nurse practitioners living in Alabama so poor? One major reason is scope of practice legislation. With the highest rate of obesity in the nation and over 25 percent of its residents smokers, you would think Alabama could use nurse practitioners more than ever. Unfortunately, the state’s legislators don’t feel the same. Not only must nurse practitioners work in collaboration with a physician, the physician must be physically on site with the NP ten percent of the time. Prescribing laws for nurse practitioners practicing in Alabama are similarly strict. NPs working in the state may only prescribe Schedule III, IV, and V medications limiting their utility in many settings.
So, what should you do if you want to practice as a nurse practitioner in the Heart of Dixie? Here are a few things to keep in mind:
- You may need to relocate. If you live in Alabama or another state with an unfavorable job market, moving may be the best solution to securing a nurse practitioner position. A willingness to relocate can significantly brighten your career outlook.
- Prepare for a lengthy job search. It’s frustrating to graduate from your nurse practitioner program only to realize you are now burdened with student loans but are unable to land a job that will give you the salary boost you anticipated. Prepare mentally and financially for a lengthy job search process.
- Make professional connections now. Most nurse practitioners find jobs through professional and personal connections. Network as much as possible in your local healthcare community to set the stage for your future career. Medical practices are more likely to hire an NP with whom they are familiar than one who simply submits an application online.
Many nurse practitioners, particularly those without experience, are finding their employment outlook in Alabama discouraging. As scope of practice regulations become more favorable, Alabama’s job markets stand to improve. Until then, here are a few steps to take if you live in an unfavorable job market.
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