Why New Graduate NP/PAs Should Consider Rural Locations
The hard work is paying off and graduation is in sight. A sense of relief sets in as this is the end of a challenging educational journey and you feel a sense of urgency to begin your career as a Nurse Practitioner or Physician Assistant. It is no secret that the job market can be a bit of a rough sea for new graduate providers as you look for employment in your specialty of interest. So far in my recruiting career I have noticed many new grads have a very specific and possibly limiting preference of where they want to find a new job, and many of those specific locations are some of the largest metro areas in the U.S. Portland, Seattle, Austin, Phoenix, Los Angeles for example are all obviously attractive areas but as a new graduate it can be more challenging than rewarding when looking for a position there. Remaining openminded and flexible regarding work in rural areas of the United States can open doors to many new opportunities. This may not get you right in the middle of the location you were hoping to achieve, but it may get you a couple hours away, and down the road could land you that dream job in a metro area!
“You cannot turn down an offer you don’t have”
Something our team likes to remind job seekers is that you simply cannot turn down an offer you don’t have. Putting limitations on where you send your CV, and who you schedule interviews with can greatly limit your success in getting that offer you’ve worked so hard to get. Send your CV, get the phone interview, visit the site, and then decide. Applying and interviewing is not a commitment to an employer, or your recruiter, and is all part of the job search journey.
Don’t let your peers influence where you apply
So maybe the small town of Arcata, CA wasn’t your first choice, and all your friends said, “Why would you want to live there?” but you saw their job posting with a great starting salary and loan repayment. Do you send the application even though you can’t envision yourself living there right now? I say yes. Working in healthcare staffing has opened my eyes to many smaller communities with lots to offer. You may schedule a site visit and find out that Arcata, CA is a beautiful town with friendly people, a supportive staff who is willing to train you, lots to explore, and did I mention loan repayment? This location is merely an example, but on a real note it was voted the #1, “Most charming town/small city in California” last year by TravelMag.
How long is too long?
Something I have asked new graduate providers before is, “How long do you plan to try to find a job in _____ before you consider other areas?” You finally have that degree in your hands, and you’ve been searching for that Urgent Care job in Spokane now for 6 months since graduation but no such luck. Extended periods of time without employment in your area of study after graduation can be seen as a negative for future employers. You’ve applied for 10+ jobs who all deliver that same defeating message that they are looking for more experienced providers. Maybe you spread your horizons and apply for the job in Moses Lake, WA which is under 2 hours away from Spokane and within a week you are contacted to set up a phone interview and in the end are offered a higher base salary. Which leads me to…
Money may not be everything, but it surely is nice
On top of less traffic (less commuting), lower crime rates, and more available opportunities, what if I told you that you could make more money? Rural jobs come with a lower cost of living, and majority of the time are offering the same or greater base salary, higher sign-on bonuses, and relocation allowances than jobs in the metro areas. Lower expenses = greater income.
Work hard, play hard? Or pay hard?
I’m sure that after financing that impressive degree, you may be making some impressive payments. Rural sites are often approved for loan repayment/forgiveness programs from the federal and/or state government. If you work in an underserved area for a certain amount of time, you may be able to decrease that looming loan amount significantly. Some might say they’re tired of seeing job descriptions that say “May qualify for loan repayment” to find out that they do not. This means that although they are eligible, they did not qualify. It is important to know that HPSA eligible facilities will have a score between 1-26 and if their score is 14 or greater, your chances of receiving loan repayment from them is much higher. If we work together, I will be able to tell you exactly which positions I am staffing for are currently offering loan repayment and which are not. Here is a helpful link which shows HPSA scores and status for Primary Care and Mental Health facilities:
Getting that experience you keep hearing you need
Chances are you went through some extensive clinical rotations, worked in various settings, with various types of people, and this helped you to realize what areas of work you’re most passionate about. One of the greatest things about rural new graduate opportunities is the fact that you likely won’t have to start out with a daily patient load of 30 for example. Maybe their patient load is light, and they sometimes have you float to other areas of their clinic. Your passion might be Emergency Medicine, which is mainly what the job you took in Glendive, Montana consists of, but you also get the chance to do some Primary Care and Urgent Care work when patient load is light. So, if down the road we apply you for a new position in your dream metro area, you now have experience in three different settings, and can prove that you are a well-rounded and adaptable provider.
A focused mind, and fulfilling relationships
The advantage of taking your first position in a rural area is that you won’t have to worry about distractions as much and will be able to put your best focus towards your job. With less distractions providers can feel less overwhelmed and build a quality work/life balance. If you haven’t already you may decide to get more in touch with nature on your days off. Many rural sites are located near state or national parks, lakes, etc. which can offer a relaxing day off and be beneficial for your physical and emotional health.
Along with a quality work/life balance you also will have the advantage to build strong relationships with patients and their families. With a lower patient load and a simpler way of life, many patients will get to know their providers on a more personable level. Treating a person instead of the disease in this case becomes a whole lot easier and you are provided with a fulfilling and rewarding feeling at the end of the day rather than trying to remember the name of the guy in the red shirt from earlier. This will also help you build your patient panel and references for future positions.
These are just a few of the reasons I as a recruiter with Opportunity Healthcare feel strongly that new graduate NP/PAs, really all healthcare providers in general, should consider rural locations. Rural care facilities service roughly 57 million Americans and many of these areas need quality care from compassionate providers with fresh knowledge and drive. If you are a new graduate NP/PA I would be happy to offer you job options that OHC is staffing for nationwide. Contact Jenna to discover your next great opportunity, firstname.lastname@example.org.