Job Hunting? Why Nurse Pay Shouldn't Be the Deciding Factor

Deciding Factors When Job Hunting

By Lee Soren, contributor

Most job hunters place a great salary at the top of their employment wish list, but it shouldn't be the only — or even the most important — consideration when hunting for your next nursing position. Whether you're looking for your first travel nurse job or a seasoned traveler, here are nine factors to consider when job hunting.

1. Work environment

Although a pleasant work environment won't pay the bills, it can make a difference in your mental and physical health. According to the American Psychological Association's Center for Organizational Excellence, a healthy workplace can enhance performance and productivity, increase morale and reduce employees' stress levels.

Not every workplace is ideal for every employee, and several important factors to consider when looking at a potential work environment are:

  • Safety practices
  • Employee dynamics
  • Training programs
  • Physical design

2. Management reputation and style

Having great management is essential to promoting on-the-job satisfaction. Many job hunters overlook the importance of researching potential employers, which can include reading patient reviews, checking out industry reports such as Becker's Hospital Review's 100 Great Hospitals in America, and speaking to colleagues who are or who have been employed at the facility.

Before accepting a position, it's also vital to understand who you'll report to, how much autonomy you'll have and whether management provides critical support for nursing staff.

3. Overall compensation

Compensation is not limited to pay. Other benefits with a monetary value may include healthcare plans, paid time off, tuition reimbursement and profit-sharing or retirement options.

When calculating overall compensation, travel nurses may want to factor in additional benefits, such as travel reimbursement, free housing or housing stipends and completion bonuses.

LEARN MORE about the full travel nurse benefits package.

4. Availability of mentors – and growth potential

Mentors can be a great resource for nurses looking to advance their knowledge, skills and overall career. Particularly for younger or less-experienced nurses, the availability of mentorships can be an important consideration in where to accept a position. Teaching hospitals often offer top-notch mentorship programs, giving nurses the opportunity to study with some of the best professionals in their fields.

While your current pay rate is important, you may also want to think about the future. While the slower pace of a private physician's office might seem inviting, it may offer no growth potential, whereas larger facilities may offer opportunities for advancement into supervisory or management roles.

5. Location

If you're seeking permanent employment, the facility's location may factor heavily into your decision. Nurses traveling by car should consider the length and ease of the commute or opportunities for ride-sharing, while city nurses may want to explore the availability and cost of public transportation.

Location considerations may also include security issues such as neighborhood safety and the availability of safe parking.

For many travel nurses, location is also an integral part of the job search. Each assignment brings the opportunity to visit a place you've always wanted to see or to explore a new region. It might even facilitate an extended visit with faraway family and friends.

6. Shifts and overtime expectations/potential

When it comes to shifts and overtime expectations, what might be a pro for one nurse can be a con for another. 

Before accepting a position, you should also know where your employer stands on the subject of overtime. In regions experiencing severe nursing shortages, overtime may be expected. Other employers may adhere to a strict no-overtime policy. Which is more appealing depends entirely on your priorities.

7. Wellness resources

These days, many employees are seeking non-work-related benefits, such as wellness resources. This may include healthy living incentives, smoking cessation programs and discount memberships to local fitness centers and exercise programs. Employer-sponsored wellness resources can also include access to complimentary crisis hotlines and 24-hour counseling services.

While nobody disputes the importance of salary when looking for a new nursing position, there is more to job satisfaction than a pay check. Search for the ideal assignment, with the benefits that you want, using's online job search.


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