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Thoughts | Deciding On My First NP Job

San Jose, CA, USA

Job hunting has been tougher for me during this time. For the past month, I've been really doing a lot of reflecting and soul-searching for what it really is I want to do as an NP and what would truly make me happy. 

As much as I have enjoyed my time working in the inpatient setting, I wonder if going for the additional education would be worth it -- that additional time, monetary debt, and effort. Would going back to get yet another certificate lead to the job I like? Or would I be happy just moving forward with a job that I already have all the certifications and/or training for? And how would I really know if I like or dislike something until I've given it an honest chance? I mean, if I also enjoy the outpatient setting, wouldn't that save me from having to go back for another certificate again?

In a way, the answer to these questions would be more obvious if I had landed an inpatient job. You know...the question of whether or not the additional certifications would lead to the job I want. But, this was not the case for me.

These questions were what I've been thinking about and pondering the past few months as I started the job search. In hindsight, it may have not been the best way to go about. I wish I were one of those nurse practitioners I follow on Instagram who have found their happy place in their careers, whether it's their first job as a nurse practitioner or after several bouts of trial and error. Seeing so many nurse practitioners, new and old, be happy and excited about their job (at least on Instagram), I wondered if I would find that happiness too. 

Then again, I remind myself of the reality outside of Instagram. It's easy to fall into the cycle of comparison and wonder what it is, pandemic aside, that has made it so difficult to find that job, the job, the one. What I've found as I job searched within the neurosurgery specialty was that I was lacking (not for all places but for most in the location of where I would have liked to work), per the recruiters:  the acute care certificate and ability to first assist.

Now, having applied to many jobs, landing some interviews, and receiving a small handful of offers, I need to make a choice. 

The choice seemed easy and straightforward...maybe even obvious. Why did I do a fellowship in neurosurgery if I wasn't going to work in neurosurgery, right? So I thought about going for it. This full time, 5 days a week, outpatient only neurosurgery position that paid well, has great benefits, and is with a reputable organization that I received an offer for. It would be at a place where I already knew the people and the system. It would give me the opportunity to stay in the specialty and to really see if I enjoy the outpatient setting. 

The catch of all of this, you ask? I would need to move to Sacramento again for the third time and my husband and I would be doing that long-distance marriage again. Long distance relationships are tough, and the pandemic has made distance seem all the more far. After being long distance for about half of our time together as a couple (dating and marriage), I think it's time to just be together. 

Despite having discussed the pros and cons again and again with my husband and family, we all (myself included) thought at first that this would be the best move to make -- to take a job and stay in the specialty despite the distance. After all, the job search has proven to be brutal and how long is too long to sit without a job before the experience I've worked so hard to gain would be considered too far in the past? 


So, set on that decision, I was ready for the next phase of the process:  securing housing. Unfortunately, our original plan for housing fell through, so we had to plan for a house rental or apartment rental. 

My husband and I weren't new to the Sacramento area. Like I've said before, this would be our third time moving to the area. We knew which parts were considered safe and what was considered affordable based on our budgeting. Despite all this, we ran into several issues on our apartment hunt. The places we've lived before (minus our most recent housing arrangement) were off limits in our book -- hey, after going through an apartment complex fire and strange roommates, you'd feel the same way too. 

Because of COVID, we've read several news articles talking about how people from the bay area have migrated north to the Sacramento area, partly because of more space, affordability, and the flexibility of working from home. We didn't realize how much of an impact this migration caused until we started looking for places again. I had gotten away last year by living with a friend, so I never really felt the impact of this. 

My husband and I made weekend trips to visit Sacramento, each time booking a few places that we wanted to look at. We were only able to look at a few places at a time because of COVID, places becoming unavailable, people no longer replying once I brought up questions about parking, or people being unavailable when we were available. By the time we decided on a place, the place usually ended up being no longer available. 

And don't let me get started on the housing scams we ran into. Who would've known this kind of thing existed? We've ran into at least three postings where the scammer listed the house/apartment unit as "for rent" on Zillow,, Craigslist, etc. Most of these houses and apartment units seemed too good for the price, for the most part. Maybe only one of them seemed about right price-wise. 

When I submitted an inquiry for the place, I would typically receive a prompt response -- some were very straightforward and listed the costs and the amount needed to "hold" the place, and others gave some seemingly legitimate story about how they had to relocate for their job and are scrambling to find a responsible renter. The interesting thing was that the replier would mention something about ignoring the "for sale" sign in front of their homes because they were in the process of not selling the place and renting it out instead. I don't know why I decided to do it, but I crossed checked the placed by plugging in the addresses into a Google search only to find that these places listed "for rent" were actually listed for sale. Of course, after receiving a reply from the scammer, the original post (for the rental) would mysteriously be taken off/removed. 

Below is an example of one of the places that is actually for sale (even pending) that was listed as "for rent" on Craigslist. 

Here's the email reply I received when I inquired about the place on Craigslist. Along with the email were attachments with the exact same photos from the above listing. 

Of course, anyone can tell it was a scam by checking out the email, but trying to reach out to places ate up a day here and there. This was probably the third or fourth scam posting we came across. 

After that, my husband and I decided that perhaps the best way to go is to just rent with some larger apartment least that's as legit as it gets, right? I scoured through different apartment complexes in the area online and read review after review in search of a place that would be safe, cost a reasonable amount, and not be too much of a burden with driving. 

Of course, we ran into some more issues. Some places didn't have or provide additional parking, others had additional parking but it was pretty costly and/or was not located near the complex. After completing some tours via Zoom, we narrowed down our choices easily to our top two, then our top one -- only to get "bait and switched" on. The apartment had a cheaper unit (let's say A) available for rent on their website, but only allowed us to virtually tour another unit of the same size but higher price (let's say B). The leasing agent knew when my husband and I would need to move in by and said that there were applicants already for unit A. My husband and I applied for unit B, since we believed the leasing agent. As the final week before move in started, unit A was still listed as available on the website. My husband and I requested to transfer over to unit A, which the leasing agent did. Now, the day before the agreed upon move in date, the apartment manager said that unit A was no longer available (although it was still listed on their website as available), and that we would have to take unit B and pay the higher rate because that's what the market value is for that. 

My husband and I could've taken it, sure. But it made us wonder, too, with everything we've experienced while living in Sacramento -- the apartment fire, the car accident, and more -- what else would be heading our way if even securing housing has been this rough? Also, what kind of service could we expect from the apartment complex, since they're already like this...and to be stuck for a whole lease term of this?

As easy as it all sounded, each part of this process chipped away at the waning time that was left before I would have started. Needless to say, it...all of it...was a very frustrating process. As excited as I typically am when moving for work or school, for the first time, I wasn't excited at all. I was mostly scared -- scared of what was to come with the increased violence against Asian Americans; scared of what could possibly happen as I faced having to live alone and venture on the long distance marriage again; and scared of the expectations the job would come with because, on the one hand, I trained there for a year, yet on the other, I am still a new-er nurse practitioner. 

The wake up call was my husband admitting that he's "tired" from all the years of driving around, and just hearing him verbalize that, the introverted person he is, got me thinking...really thinking whether this move is what we want. Sure, career wise, it's what I wanted...sort of, kind of. It's in the specialty that I want, it's with supportive co-workers, and it's with a reputable organization. But, it was also not quite the schedule I wanted (with both of us working 5 days a week, how would it work out?) and not exactly the setting I think I would've liked (would've because who really knows until I've given it a try on my own). I also wasn't sure how things would work out with different people quitting...would I also be expected to absorb some of their work (aside from that as an NP), since I would be the only one (NP) there 5 days a week?


All of this eventually led me to the realization of what's valuable to me -- gaining back the would-have-been lost time with my husband, being physically closer to my support system (even if they're the in-laws), being physically at a place where I feel safer (after everything I went through the years I had lived in Sacramento), and maybe being able to settle.  

TLDR; there are many, many factors that go into the job decision making process. It may not make sense to everyone, but what matters is that it makes sense to you and aligns with your values/wants/needs. 

It's also like one of my supervisors said:  

"Your job is not there for you at the end. Family is."

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