Friday, March 27, 2009

Hospital or Private Practice - What Nurses Need to Consider When Making This Vital Decision

By: Grant Eckert

In any career, there are a number of decisions to make. Within the nursing path, there are a number of directions you can take when you are first starting out, often resulting in different career paths and positions. The first and most vital decision you will make is whether to enter the hospital setting or the private practice setting. Both have their rewards, as well as their limitations, so this is a choice you need to spend time on making.

When You Choose the Hospital Setting

Any graduate of nursing school is probably going to be flooded with offers from hospitals and hospital type settings. And with the hiring bonuses they offer, these offers can be quite tempting. Here are the main benefits of talking to these human resources departments:

· Often unionized workplaces - Once you're into these hospitals, you're nearly guaranteed steady work for the rest of your life. Your wages will be raised yearly and your benefits will be negotiated regularly.
· Possibility of promotion or transfers - In a larger hospital setting, you will be able to change your position as your experience increases. Most hospitals will post jobs in other departments with preference given to those already in similar positions or with more years on the job.
· Variety of work - You can start out in one position and then transfer to other positions as your knowledge increases or you simply want a change of scenery and patient care.

But as with any setting in which you would choose to be a nurse, there are downsides too.

· Problems dealing with seniority in the beginning - Since seniority tends to be rewarded, as a new nurse, you might find that positions are slim and the hours are poor until you have a few years of experience.
· Fast paced setting, high patient to nurse ratio - While this can also be a benefit, the fast paced setting and high patient ratio can be exhausting for some nurses, often leading to burnout.

When You Choose the Private Practice Setting

If you're looking at joining a private practice as a nurse, you will find that there are just as many benefits as there are problems with this arrangement.

The benefits include:

· Regular hours - Because you are only working when the doctors are there, you can establish a more regular schedule. This works well for nurses with families that need their care.
· More chance for patient interaction - When you're only dealing with one patient at a time, you can feel more connected to the patients you do meet.
· Smaller patient population - This allows you to learn and to remember patients that come in regularly. You also can have less stress than in a hospital setting.

But the disadvantages to this setting are:

§ Lack of unionization in many cases - This can cause your job to be at risk for termination at any time, regardless of seniority. Your benefits will also be decided by the practice management instead of being supported by a union representative.
§ The pay can be less - While some practices pay better than others, the pay is often much less in a private setting as the revenue can be smaller.
§ There are fewer jobs - You might not be able to get into a higher position as a private practice nurse, plus the number of jobs available is fewer.

Whether you choose the hospital setting or the private practice setting, you will still be able to do what you do best - care for patients. However, most nurses find that one setting is a better fit than another. And that decision is up to you.

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