Take a deep breath, and then repeat after me. “I can negotiate for what I deserve.” You CAN negotiate a nurse practitioner salary, and I’m here to help you learn what to negotiate for, and how.
First, know that if you are nervous at the thought of how to negotiate your nurse practitioner salary – you’re not alone! The skill of negotiating is like a muscle and needs to be exercised in order to get stronger.
Watch the video below or keep reading to learn:
- How a nurse practitioner salary is determined, and how it should influence your strategy
- The different things – other than pay – that you should try to negotiate
- The approach you don’t want to take when negotiating with a potential employer.
How to Approach NP Salary Negotiation
We’re about to tackle a bit of a beast of a topic: negotiating. I get asked about negotiating all the time. It’s something that brings up an emotional response for a lot of people. And it’s the type of thing where everyone knows that they should be doing it, or you’re hearing that you should be negotiating. But you may not actually be learning how to negotiate. It’s possible you don’t know what that actually looks like, or what you can do to advocate for yourself, and your worth, during this professional transition.
So I’m going to cover cover a few things here today to give you nurse practitioner negotiation primer. My hope is that you enter this conversation for the first time, or for the next time, you have more comfort with what you should be paying attention to.
Let’s get started.
Different Settings for NP Salary Negotiation
Negotiating can happen in a few different settings. It can happen in person or face to face. For example, if you have an interview that goes really well, it’s possible, you may be offered a job on the spot, though that isn’t typical. Or you may be brought in for a face to face meeting after receiving an offer, to further discuss the offer details.
But from my experience, more often than not nurse practitioner offers come via email, some time after your interview.
In this case, it’s most common that your offer and NP salary negotiation process will happen via email or phone.
Work to Do Before Negotiating an NP Offer
I’m going to give you some broad concepts to keep in mind without hyper specific scripting, so that you can adapt to the situation that you’re in personally.
The first thing that I want you to do as you are preparing to welcome an NP job offer and negotiate is to do research.
I want you to do specific research about the salary expectations, not only for nurse practitioners, but of new grad nurse practitioners, if that’s appropriate to you, within your specialty, and within your geographical area. While this may seem obvious, I’ve found this type of research to be often overlooked.
I’ve seen chatter in different places, like Facebook groups, nursing communities, or online forums, where people will ask “what’s the typical salary for a new grad nurse practitioner?” And it’s just not a question that can be answered without the specifics of questions like:
- Where do you live?
- What’s your specialty?
- How much experience do you have?
- How much nurse practitioner experience do you have?
So if you’re going to do research ahead of time, which I highly recommend, you should make sure that you’re looking the typical salary of someone with your experience, in your geographical area, with your particular certification and experience.
Another thing that I want you to keep in mind is that nurse practitioners, for the most part, are revenue generating providers.
That means that our worth and our value to a office, clinic, or hospital is pretty closely linked to our productivity. And I have some mixed feelings about that. I personally don’t think that anyone should ever measured their worth, according to their productivity, because I think that’s harmful behavior in general. But keep in mind that in the world of nurse practitioners, that is the reality of how our salaries are structured and based. They’re based off of our ability to produce, to see patients and to make money for a practice or a hospital. This is different than how nursing salaries are figured out, and it’s not widely understood by new grad NPs. Because nurses are not directly revenue generating.
So if you approach the process of salary negotiation for nurse practitioners as you did to your nursing position, you may not be completely satisfied because it’s just a different process.
With that being said, if you are on the newer side of things, if you are in about to be new grad or if you are a new grad nurse practitioner, keep in mind that you will not have the ability to produce to the level of someone with 5, 10, 15 years of experience. That doesn’t mean that you’re not going to get there but just acknowledge the fact that while you have so much potential and so much aptitude as a new nurse practitioner, you are going to face the barrier of the fact that from a revenue standpoint, you will not be able to produce to the level of someone with more experience, which means it gives you a ton of room for growth.
So if you flip your mindset and rather than seeing that as a negative see that as an opportunity to only improve from where you’re starting, hopefully that will help you combat any kind of mindset roadblocks or barriers that you face when negotiating your salary.
How to Navigate Your Negotiation Conversation
When you’re thinking about how to approach the actual conversation, consider starting with something that loosely looks like a compliment sandwich.
Stick with me. So I’m a big fan of the compliment sandwich. If you have some constructive criticism to deliver, it’s always nice to start with a compliment, build that person up, deliver your constructive feedback, and compliment them again. That’s just how I operate, I find it a very copacetic way to interact with people, as it makes things not adversarial. And that’s a good way to be because the topic of negotiation brings up emotions, people get defensive, people get adversarial. Even employers and seasoned HR professionals. And that’s not what you want to bring up during this process. Keep in mind, you’re still a potential employee, to whomever you’re speaking. So you want to maintain and preserve that professional relationship, and show that you have business skill and poise when going into this conversation.
- If this is a position that you really want, and you’re really excited about it, I want you to show that excitement. So start by outright saying: thank you so much for this offer, I am so excited to be a prospective member of your team, here’s the value that I’m going to add, here’s why I love your practice, or whatever drives your excitement. Be honest about it! Let them know that not only are they choosing you, but you want to choose them as an employer. So you’re going to give a compliment, you’re going to be excited, you’re going to say why this is the position that you want, and why you’re so excited to be an optimal candidate for it.
- Next, you might reiterate your value. For example “I come from this many years of experience as a nurse or I completed these rotations in school,” whatever has you standing apart from your competition. Reiterate by stating outloud whatever you think is your unique value proposition. Try to keep the emotions out of this part. You want to acknowledge the fact that this is a potential working relationship and this is a business conversation.
- Then, you share your opinion. Let’s say you’ve been given an offer that’s much lower than your research has shown is appropriate or fair market value, you could now go into saying, “I’ve done my research and other nurse practitioners, other new graduate nurse practitioners with the same level of experience or the same certification in this geographical area, are getting a salary range of X to Y.” At this stage, I think using a range is really important, because it shows that you are willing to have a conversation, and that you’ve done your research. You may have said, “Based on my research for this role, I’m finding that the fair market value is more of a range of X to Y, and I was really aspiring to be closer to X per year, Y per hour.” (Using whatever you decide that number is that you want to negotiate to.) Here you can echo something like “I’m really hoping that we can come up with an offer that we’re both comfortable with, because this is really where I see myself growing professionally for the next phase of my career.”
It’s possible and maybe even likely that you’ll be faced with a no. Hopefully it opens up a conversation, but maybe they’ll say, just flat out “no, we can’t afford that right now.” They might also say, “you’re a new grad, you won’t be producing for a while.”
When faced with this feedback, you can take two approaches:
- You can go back and echo the value that you plan to provide the fact that you are aware that you have a lot of aptitude for being revenue generating in the near future.
- Or you could discuss the possibility of revisiting your salary after three to six months once you’ve had the opportunity to orient and become productive in your role.
Things To Negotiate Besides Salary
I also want you to keep in mind that salary is not the only thing to negotiate. When trying to negotiate your nurse practitioner offer, salary itself is not the only thing on the table. There are potentially a lot of other things that could result in more money in your pocket either now or later. So I don’t want you to get totally hung up on the one salary number because there are just so many other things to consider.
The other things to consider usually come in the form of benefits. So other things you could attempt to negotiate in your NP offer besides salary, include:
- Paid time off
- Continuing ed money
- Continuing ed time
- Te vesting period in your retirement account (meaning the period of time before you’ve earned the employer’s contributions)
- The employers contributions to your account
- The level or the price of what they’re offering you in terms of health benefits
The point is here, if they’re going to give you more money in your retirement fund, if they’re going to reduce the cost of your health care premiums, if they’re going to give you more paid time off or vacation, though that doesn’t affect the actual salary number, it does results in more money in your pocket either now or later, and should be considered a win.
Ultimately, if you’re able to negotiate your new NP salary number, certainly, you should try for that first, because it could have a more exponential improvement on your salary in the future. If you negotiate your salary up a certain amount, and your yearly salary increases are a percentage of your base salary, then it guarantees that your salary will climb a certain percentage each year as opposed to just negotiating a benefit improvement.
Check out this amazing graphic to show you how this can impact your earnings over time:
The other opportunity to negotiate in a practice setting that offers productivity pay, is to have a discussion around what is productivity pay. For example, productivity pay can be based on:
- The number of patients that you see
- The amount that’s collected from patients
- The RV use billed per patient
So depending on what your productivity structure is, consider it an opportunity to negotiate! And you may have a little bit more success there since those types of things are more directly related to your revenue generation when you are in a role that has both a base salary plus productivity pay.
So that’s it for your negotiation primer for nurse practitioners! I hope this video and article provided you with information on how to negotiate a nurse practitioner salary. And hopefully you’ve learned of a few new ideas for things to negotiate other than your NP salary!