Nurse practitioner jobs aren’t always the most flexible opportunities. Patient visits often must be scheduled in advance and in-person interactions are required. So, at times it may seem like your your friends in the business world have it better when it comes to flexibility and work-life balance. But, nurse practitioners have several options when it comes to creating more flexibility within their profession. Going PRN is one of them.
PRN, or ‘as needed’ opportunities are a great way for nurse practitioners to supplement a full or part-time income. Working PRN alone, however isn’t an option for many NPs as an inconsistent hours and reduced scheduling options make a substantial paycheck hit-or-miss. So, how do you capture the flexibility that going PRN allows while maintaining a full-time income?
The tendency for nurse practitioners looking to piece together multiple PRN opportunities to create a do-it-yourself, full-time position is to over-commit. They take on too many PRN positions at one time leaving them failing to meet the expectations of each employer. Schedules clash. Pressure to work a few shifts for each practice leaves the NP overworked rather than with the flexibility and balance originally intended by making such a career move.
If you plan to work full-time hours by taking on multiple PRN jobs, apply for and accept opportunities one at a time. This way, you get an idea as to shift availability and scheduling norms of each practice allowing you to assess how taking on another position will fit.
If you plan to work near full-time hours, take a day off here and there, and are accommodating the scheduling systems of multiple practices, you’ll need to stay organized. Maintain an awareness of how each practice you work for schedules nurse practitioners. This helps avoid snafus like double-booking yourself and helps you maximize the number of shifts you can work each month. Submit schedule requests on time. Learn how far in advance you can expect to know your schedule so you can notify other positions of your availability accordingly.
While many hospitals and clinics use PRN nurse practitioners heavily, the number of shifts available to these NPs tends to wax and wane. A nurse practitioner out on maternity leave may free up several shifts a month while temporary overstaffing situations may leave PRN NPs out of work for a time. Take advantage of available shifts that easily fit into your schedule when hours are plenty. This way, when shift availability gets lean, you’re not scrambling to pay the bills.
Be a Team Player
Working PRN may seem like a cakewalk, but if you slack because you aren’t a full-timer, eventually the clinics and hospitals you work with will stop putting you on the schedule. Pick up a weekend, holiday or evening shift here and there to show your commitment to your coworkers. Keep up with changes in practice policies and procedures so that others don’t have to correct your mistakes. Work hard while you’re on duty rather than simply being an extra body. Maintaining a reputation as a competent, committed nurse practitioner is essential, even if you only work a few shifts each month.
Set Clear Expectations
If you plan to take on multiple PRN jobs rather than work full-time for a single employer, set clear expectations as to your availability. PRN or not, practices carefully calculate staffing needs. They rely on nurse practitioners to work a certain number of shifts each month. On the other hand, get an idea as to the number of shifts the practice is looking to fill each month as you interview for various PRN positions. This way you can ramp up or pare down other opportunities as needed.
Taking on several PRN nurse practitioner jobs rather than a single full-time position can be a great way to achieve a better work-life balance and attain scheduling flexibility. If you plan to use this approach, having a clear-cut strategy for doing so is a must.
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