If you’re a PA or an NP, this is how to improve your pay and better your career

It’s time to show your health care employer you’re the full package. Here’s how.

If you’re a PA or an NP, this is how to improve your pay and better your career

Physician assistants (PAs) and nurse practitioners (NPs) provide many benefits to health care teams—and yet, they’re not always given the credit they deserve. In fact, most health care facilities classify them as ancillary staff, therefore categorizing them as “overhead” instead of revenue generators.

These providers are often overlooked when it comes to team care and patient satisfaction and the president of the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants Dawn Morton-Rias recently called for “increased awareness on the part of health leaders, a stronger commitment to health care teams and recognition of the value and service provided by PAs.”

So, if you’re an NP or a PA, how can you assert your value and get paid for what you’re worth? This is a good place to start.

  • Increase your skills: Learn a new procedure or expand services for your office, e.g., staff urgent care hours or lead a flu vaccine clinic.
  • Show you can handle leadership and administrative duties:  Lead a team initiative, such as medical home certification or a quality improvement project.
  • Know your numbers: Work with your leadership team to understand the practice’s insurance contracts and ask for quarterly reports of your attributed charges and collections. If any of these contracts are value-based, there will be an opportunity to discuss and design operational approaches to meet patient metrics or department utilization benchmarks.

With health care facilities facing an increased patient load, combined with a growing shortage of physicians, the need for NPs and PAs will continue to rise. Higher compensation—for both permanent jobs as well as locum tenens assignments—will likely follow as these providers gain more respect and appreciation in the health care industry. However, it is important for NPs and PAs to remember that compensation is only one part of the job equation.

If you’re looking to be really engaged in your work, make sure your employer provides the following:

  • Professional growth: If you’re looking for additional skills or experience—and you should be—it’s important to find an employer that fosters a learning environment. Not only will these learning opportunities help you in current job but they will also make you more marketable when you search for your next job.
  • Good work-life balance: Whether it is childcare benefits, flexible schedules for school or just an emphasis on unplugging when you’re out of the office, a position that encourages a good work-life balance is often worth more than money.
  • Training budget: Continuing Medical Education (CME) courses and additional training are important for increasing or sharpening your skills. It’s an added bonus when you can find an employer who will help pay for these courses.

If you’re not receiving these things, talk to your employer about options. If you’re looking into new work, ask about what is offered. Be proactive in building your career—if you don’t ask or push for improvements, no one will do it for you.

Tyler Black is the vice president of allied staffing at CompHealth, which places PAs, NPs and CRNAs in permanent and temporary positions around the country.

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