What to look for in a workplace environment when looking for an advance practice job

Healthcare is a fast-paced world. Looking for an Advanced Practice job for healthcare professionals either as a Nurse or Physician Assistant can be stressful and confusing.

Many times, health care professionals will not put their own wants and needs first and tend to overlook important details in a work environment that may not be so healthy. This will make or break their success in an organization. The key is to find a healthy work environment that will resonant with your life and career goals.

Before looking for a job it’s best to take a mental inventory of yourself. Ask yourself these questions:

-What was your last job like?

-What did you like about the environment?

-What did you not like about the environment?

-What did you struggle with?

-Did you feel supported?

-What are you looking for in a new job?

What’s The Vibe: Pay Attention To Your Senses

Advance practice professionals can be employed in a variety of different facilities from hospitals, outpatient settings federally funded clinics, school-based clinics, rural settings and corporate environments, As you enter a new workplace for a tour and or interview pay attention to your senses. Human beings are intuitive. If we pay attention to our 6 senses: taste, touch, vision, smell, hearing, and feeling they can help reveal if the workplace environment is one for you. If something does not feel right to you, then it probably isn’t the right workplace environment!

How does the place smell? Does it smell like bodily fluids or strong antiseptics and cleaning agents? Is the work environment neat, clean and organized? Are people greeting you with smiles and holding eye contact as you pass them by or are, they looking down at their desk avoiding you with frowns? Are people looking frazzled and stressed? Are their doors being slammed? Does the place feel like a monastery or do you hear joyful laughter and conversations?  

“I go to the cafeteria and people watch! I also ride up an elevator to any floor and walk around. What I hear, see, smell, observe lets me know if I should even bother to apply!” Sandra Pedland Advanced Practice Nurse

How does the environment you just walked into feel to you? What’s the ‘vibe’ of the place you just walked into putting off? Is it friendly, open and positive? Or is it have an air of darkness and mystery? If the vibe you are feels awkward and off putting, do not ignore it! `


With the recent rise in violence in health care facilities, personal safety should always be your number one priority when looking for an Advanced Practice job. Are there security guards employed by the facility? How are they utilized? Is the administration willing to support you if you are dealing with a combative patient and refuse to take care of the patient?

Commuting to the workplace and safety is important to assess. Will you be commuting to work by public transit, biking, walking or driving? Does this facility offer adequate parking, bus and metro stops, and or a place to store your bike? Do they offer employee rideshare options?


Communication is key in any workplace environment! Healthcare professionals must be proficient in communication skills as they are in their clinical skills. Asking the right questions, especially when looking for a new job is vital to find out how the organization is managed and if it is the right fit for you and your career goals and personal needs.

Are people polite to each other and treat each other with respect? Do people stop to communicate with you or are they always too busy and ask that you send them an email that may never get read? Do you hear people talking negatively about the organization, management, and other co-workers?

 If people are flying by you looking frazzled, and when you make eye contact look confused and ask, “do you need me to sign something?”, then it’s probably a little crazy.”  Zenya Bolotin, Advanced Practice Nurse.

Is the workplace open to hearing your concerns? Do they ask for your advice and listen to how improvements to patient care can be made? Is there an open-door policy in this organization? Do weekly newsletters and emails go out about what is happening?

How front desk staff treat the patients speaks volume to the patients first impression of you as a provider.” Danielle Gordon, Advanced Practice Nurse.

How does the front desk staff treat patients? Are they smiling, courteous, and helpful? Or the opposite? The experience a patient has as they walk into a healthcare setting can set the tone for the rest of the visit.

Collaborative Work Environment And Authentic Leadership

Many disciplines exist in the healthcare world. You can be working with physicians, nurse practitioners, clinical nurse specialists, advanced practice nurses, physician assistants, registered nurses, licensed vocational nurses, medical assistants, office managers, administrators, and custodial staff. How all these disciplines collaborate with each other are key elements to a happy workplace and the longevity of your success with this organization.

Are there physicians in the practice that know and understand the role of the Advance Practice healthcare professional? How do they interact with one another and other staff? Are they friendly and open? Or are they closed and cold?  Is there a collegial relationship between the disciplines? Are the office managers and administrative staff supportive and competent to your needs and can assure a smooth and safe working environment? How will you be supported? Will the physician be on call to answer questions or in your office setting?

Are the leaders in the workplace confident and strong allowing for input from their staff?  Asking to attend a staff meeting before accepting a job can shed light into this area. See how the leaders run meetings. Do they do empower their staff to provide input and solutions or do they do all the talking? Are they actually listening to the concerns of their employees or do they just cut them off in between their sentences and using deeming and derogatory terms? Is their body language open or closed and or do the sit with their arms crossed across their chest?

When I wrote my DNP project, I used patient outcomes in a clinic where training was done to prevent and deter workplace incivility. One of the things I look at now in offices I go to, both as an advanced practice provider and as a patient, is how the staff works together and treats each other.” Laura Sterling, Advanced Practice Nurse further states: “It is something that is very obvious and palpable if you are paying attention to it. Patient outcomes have long been known to be adversely affected in areas where workplace incivility is common. Research has been consistent in this finding and in the policy which most all firms and agencies have as a zero-tolerance policy toward workplace incivility. Unfortunately, there are little if any plans or interventions in place to restrict or reduce such behavior. As a result, patients feel it and it becomes a toxic place to work. When looking for a new job, look at how the office staff and clinical staff work together and see if at this early stage this environment is one that promotes workplace incivility or works to reduce it. You will quickly be able to decide if you want to work in an office that works and feels like this one.”

Honesty and Trust

According to 90% of workers, honesty, trust and fairness are considered the most important attributes valued in the workplace. Life or death situations arise in the healthcare world on a daily basis. Trust and honesty amongst colleagues can make or break any superhero let alone an advanced practice healthcare professional. If something goes wrong, or if you are facing a lawsuit, you want to work with professionals who you can trust to stand behind you and support you professionally.

Dr. Maria R. Shirley, noted expert and author on nursing management, defines a healthy work environment as follows:

Healthy work environments “are characterized by a high level of trust between management and employees; by employees who treat each other in a respectful manner; by an organizational culture that supports skilled communication and collaboration; and by a climate in which employees feel emotionally and physically safe.”

Showing trust and honesty has to do with owning up to your mistakes, showing compassion, making amends and focusing on actions. Discussions on how to overcome obstacles in the present and the future are also important.  These factors are all key to finding success and longevity in a work environment.

Work-Life Balance

U.S. News & World Report asked questions about employee work-life balance in its survey to determine the top 50 employers. Employees may like their jobs and benefits, but they also need a work-life balance. Without it, the job bleeds over into personal life, which can negatively affect a person’s health or family relationships.

How many hours will you be spending in the office? Does this organization allow you enough time to chart at home? Are you able to tailor your working hours to coincide with your personal life or will this job be consuming and difficult to balance?

Companies like Google and Netflix offer their employees several perks like catered breakfasts and lunches, fun work environments that include ping pong tables, flexible schedules that allow you to work from home, and a psychologist on staff. On the contrary, many facilities that employ Advance Practice healthcare professionals may not even offer drinking water let alone a flexible healthy work environment. Working in healthcare may seem clandestine in today’s modern world as compared to other companies. In reality, Advance Practice professionals are often treated like minions, made to do more with less acknowledgment and benefits.

Healthcare is a stressful environment and perhaps healthcare organizations can take a lesson from tech organizations like Goggle and Netflix and offer their employees work environments that are similar. At the very least psychological services, open communication, and teamwork are vital to an advanced practice healthcare professional’s success in the workplace. While you are shopping around for a new Advanced Practice position, understanding yourself and what you are expecting from the organization is key to your success. If the workplace environment does not feel right to you, then it probably isn’t. Keep shopping around until you find the best fit for your current needs.  






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