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40+ Crucial Questions Healthcare Pros Should Ask at the Job Offer Stage — and After

From asking about benefits, vacation, and insurance providers, to requesting more time to compare offers, here are tips on how and what to ask a potential employer.

December 20, 2019

Audience raising hands during seminar

Job offers are tricky, no matter whether you’re fresh out of nursing school or a seasoned DPT with years of experience. As a potential hire, you have some big questions that need answers before signing on the dotted line, and we all know that how you ask is just as important as what you ask.

It’s important to learn to put your best foot forward by negotiating for what you deserve without appearing too timid or overzealous. With a little preparation, you can ask pointed questions that will give you a sense of whether the organization is the right fit for your personal and professional needs, while still coming across as smart, focused, and professional. Here’s a comprehensive breakdown of what to ask at every stage of the job offer process.

I Got the Job! Should I Accept the Offer Immediately?

There’s nothing like the rush of finding out you nailed the interview process and got the job. However, no matter how much you want to pop the champagne and launch the confetti, it’s essential to hit pause and review the offer before giving an answer.

After all, it’s far easier to negotiate before you accept an offer rather than down the line. The vast majority of hiring managers will understand and fully respect that you need a few days for consideration, and if you do find yourself being pressured for an immediate answer, you’re looking at a potential red flag.

What Should I Consider Before Accepting a Job Offer?

Salary is likely one of the biggest influences weighing on your decision, but it’s not the only factor that plays into your job satisfaction and quality of life. There are plenty of tangible and intangible elements for healthcare professionals to consider, such as:

  • Start date
  • Schedule (and amount of flexibility)
  • Supervisor’s name (if you don’t already know it)
  • Health insurance coverage and deductibles
  • 401(k) match
  • Vacation and sick leave policies
  • Paid holidays and how they’re scheduled
  • Overtime availability
  • Parental leave (yes, even if this isn’t in your plans for a few years!)
  • Opportunities for advancement
  • Commute/parking expenses
  • Malpractice insurance
  • Training/continuing education available
  • Company culture and work environment

Questions to Ask Before Accepting a Healthcare Job

During the interview process, it’s natural to hold off on getting into the nitty-gritty details. However, once an offer has been made, it’s vital to get the full details in writing to ensure that there’s no miscommunication or misunderstanding.

To make an informed decision (and to figure out what you want to negotiate), you need clarity on the total compensation package, as well as what the role will entail. Plus, it’s in the best interest of you and your prospective employer to be on the same page and in agreement about the terms and conditions of your employment.

What Questions Should I Ask HR About Benefits?

  • When does my eligibility for benefits begin? (Some employers offer benefits immediately, while others set up a 90-day wait period.)

  • How many paid sick, personal, and vacation days do I have?

  • Does vacation time roll over to the next year, or is it a use-it-or-lose-it situation?

  • Does the company provide additional training, educational opportunities, or tuition reimbursement?

  • Is there overtime/holiday pay?

  • How is the vacation and holiday schedule planned? What are the opportunities for new employees to get their requested dates?

  • What are the retirement savings options? Is there a company match?

  • Is parking free, or are there commuting benefits?

  • Are there any perks offered, such as gym memberships, flexible work hours, or wellness programs?

What Questions Should I Ask HR About Insurance?

  • What are the health insurance plans offered?

  • Who is covered by the healthcare plans? Are spouses and dependents included?

  • Is the healthcare plan an HMO or PPO? (Both have their pros and cons, but only you can decide what’s best for your situation.)

  • What is the annual deductible? And what are the per-visit co-pays?

  • Is there a monthly premium? If yes, how much is being deducted from the paycheck?

  • What about vision and dental insurance?

  • Is life insurance or accident insurance offered?

  • Is medical malpractice insurance provided?

  • What’s the insurance carrier’s rating? (You want an A.M. Best rating of at least “A,” which measures financial stability.)

  • Am I covered in the event of an internet data security or privacy breach? (In 2018, the number of data breaches tripled.)

How to Ask for a Salary Increase in a Job Offer

Negotiating money matters can be intimidating, especially for entry-level healthcare professionals. However, the truth is that avoiding this conversation can come at a much higher cost: Those who never negotiate salaries can miss out on an additional $1.5 million over the course of a lifetime. Being prepared is the key to success, and the good news is that it’s never been easier to find information about what your industry peers are being paid.

Free online resources like Glassdoor.com, Nurses.org, Salary.com, AllNurses.com, and Payscale.com provide a wealth of data. On top of all this, consider consulting your personal and professional networks for insights as well. You should be armed with research on comparable industry salaries, as well as a clear case for the value that you’ll personally bring to the organization.

Catherine Burger, an RN with more than 30 years’ experience and a media and brand specialist for RegisteredNursing.org, encourages healthcare professionals to keep a track record of measurable achievements. For those who are looking to switch specialties or divisions, Burger says there’s still leveraging power; it just requires some creative packaging.

“Even if you feel like you don’t have extensive experience in a certain area, there are ways to demonstrate how you’ll add value,” Burger says. “Perhaps you’re willing to get a new certification, which will cost money, or could suggest serving as a department lead on a committee. Don’t sell yourself short!”

Crystal Polson, MSN, NP, with 18 years of experience, echoes this sentiment.

“We’re a female-dominated industry, and many women have an innate hesitation of asking for more money, especially in nursing,” Polson says. “It took me way too long to realize that my male colleagues were almost always negotiating their salaries. Most of the time, you get what you ask for. But no one’s going to just hand you more money without you asking.”

If you’ve tried your hand and there’s no wiggle room as far as salary goes, it doesn’t necessarily mean you have to walk away. It’s important to first look at the big picture and examine other factors or benefits that may be open to negotiation, such as company stock or more paid time off.

How to Ask for More Time to Consider a Job Offer

Need more time? Of course you do. According to Kate Tulenko,MD, MPH, MPhil, FAAP, health workforce expert and the CEO of Corvus Health, it’s important to be mindful of framing your request through the lens of enthusiasm about the offer.

“You don’t want to project a ‘what’s in it for me’ attitude, but rather express that you have the hospital’s best interest in mind, too, by ensuring that you’re a good personal fit,” says Tulenko. “There’s nothing wrong with asking for more time; if anything, it shows you’re being thoughtful, deliberate, and intentional on your side, which are all qualities that employers look for.”

Most hiring managers expect you to want to deliberate over an offer anyway, so you don’t need to be meek about asking for some extra time when they need an answer. Saying something along the lines of, “Thank you for the opportunity; I’m excited about the potential of working for your company! Is it possible for you to send me the offer in writing so I can review?” is an appropriate way to buy yourself more time.

Already Accepted the Job? Here Are Some Questions to Ask Before You Start

If you’re reading this section, chances are that you decided to accept the job. Congratulations! At this final stage of the process, asking questions shows that you’re a proactive and engaged team member — and it helps to ensure a smooth, successful start on your end. Here are a few crucial questions to consider asking before you start your new job:

  • What’s the plan for onboarding?

  • What are my exact hours and shifts?

  • Is there any material I can read in advance of my start date to prepare?

  • Who are my team members and what are their roles?

  • Who will I be reporting to?

  • What are my priorities for the first day? First week? First quarter?

  • What are the specific goals and outcomes, and how will I be evaluated?

  • How frequently do you like to meet or prefer status updates?

  • What should I do when I have questions?

What Questions Should I Ask HR About Malpractice Insurance?

Because we’re a professional liability insurance company, we’d be remiss if we didn’t urge you to dig deeper and ask more questions about the malpractice coverage your employer may provide for you. You can typically do this during onboarding, so you can decide if you need a supplemental policy. (Don’t worry, you can get one same-day!) Here are some questions to ask about their malpractice insurance:

  • What’s included in the policy? (e.g., HIPAA coverage; Board Action coverage; reputation coverage; defense counsel inside vs. outside the limits of liability)

  • Do employees typically buy supplemental medical malpractice coverage?

  • If a claim is brought against you or your care team, will you have your own personal advocate for your defense, or will the same lawyer represent everyone?

  • Do you have any control of whether a claim is settled or brought to trial? Is your consent required before a claim is settled?

  • Say that a claim is made against the facility, but you aren’t mentioned specifically in it. Will you still have access to legal counsel if you’re subpoenaed to testify or named as a witness?

  • Does the employer policy cover your lost wages if you’re required to attend a legal proceeding for a claim filed against you, or if you’re needed as a witness?

  • Does the employer policy cover you if you do medical volunteer work off-premises and/or out of the country?

  • Does the employer policy cover you if you help anyone in a medical situation outside of work? (e.g., someone has a heart attack at a restaurant)

  • Does the employer policy cover you if you practice in a second job?

  • Are there any limitations to this policy that are important to know about?

  • If you change jobs, will the insurance provided by your prior employer apply to claims made against you for your actions while you were working for that employer?

No matter what stage of the job search you’re facing, we wish you the best of luck! And be sure to check out salary reports, state-by-state rankings, and resume and cover letter templates in our Career Growth resources.


Image courtesy of iStock.com/trumzz


The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Berxi™ or Berkshire Hathaway Specialty Insurance Company. This article (subject to change without notice) is for informational purposes only, and does not constitute professional advice.

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