Things Nurses Should Consider in a Potential Employer

Nursing is an exciting and challenging field that is constantly evolving. Finding an employer who will optimize your potential and provide the support you’ll need is imperative to advancing your career.

With constant advances in biomedicine, rapid changes in health care technology, budget challenges, and changing patient trends, nurses today find themselves with multiple issues to consider when searching for a new employer. In such an environment, it’s important to follow specific steps that will ensure your success.

The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) has published a white paper titled, “Hallmarks of the Professional Nursing Practice Environment.” With an accompanying brochure, these contain key elements to consider when searching for a nursing employer. According to the AACN, such hallmarks should include some of the following characteristics:

Clinical care focuses on quality, safety, collaboration, and accountability.

  • Is the organization’s mission statement consistent with this philosophy?

  • What type of input does the nursing staff have in developing clinical policies and procedures?

  • What are the staff-to-patient ratios for nursing, and how are they determined?

  • Is nursing represented in governing bodies that oversee policy and operations?

  • Is there a quality-improvement program in place for nursing? What does it include?

  • What is the turnover rate for nursing staff? 

Nurses are recognized for their contributions of knowledge and expertise.

  • How are nurses recognized for advanced education and professional achievement?

  • Is current nursing research utilized in the quality improvement program?

  • Are nurses and their credentials identified in all venues?

  • What is the involvement of nurses in the organization’s marketing efforts?

  • Are nurses encouraged to be mentors and trainers? 

Nurses are encouraged to participate in leadership roles. 

  • What is the role of nursing in leadership of the organization?

  • What kind of support do nurse executives receive?

  • Who do they report to? 

Nurses are empowered to participate in clinical decision-making and systems.

  • Who makes the decisions for nursing?

  • Is this process centralized or decentralized, and at what level?

  • Are nurses included in organizational committees and key communications?

  • Is there an established leadership role for nurses regarding quality improvement of clinical care?

  • What type of system is in place to analyze and correct clinical errors and safety issues?

Programs are in place for clinical advancement.

  • How are nurses rewarded for clinical and professional advancement?

  • Who has input into a nurse’s evaluation process?

  • What types of credentials are required for nursing leadership? 

Nurses receive support for professional development. 

  • What types of programs are in place to encourage nurses to develop professionally?

  • Are advanced practice nurses involved in research?

  • Is there an established relationship with an institution for higher learning in the community?

All members of the health care team work in collaboration with one another.

  • What is the reality of collaborative practice in the organization?

  • Are all disciplines involved in standing committees that guide excellence in clinical practice?

  • Do nurses have supervisory authority of unlicensed personnel who are part of the nursing team?

Advances in clinical care technology and information systems are utilized.

  • Is the most current technology used in a manner to optimize patient care and safety?

  • Is appropriate training provided as technology changes?

Stepping into the world as a new nursing professional is exciting and overwhelming all at once. Finding an employer who will optimally support you as you grow into your career is essential to your personal satisfaction and professional success. If you put your best foot forward and ask key questions, you’ll increase your chances of finding the match that’s right for you.