What should I consider if I am considering signing a contract before finishing school?
There are a number of factors that you must factor in when considering a contract, especially if you have not finished a CRNA program.
-Salary: Check out other anesthesia groups in the area. Is the salary competitive? Some places may offer contracts that are competitive at the time you sign the contract, but by the time you begin to work, the agreed upon salary may be well below what the local market has risen to. Some contracts will have a clause that covers this eventuality.
-Benefits: These could include, but may not be limited to, health and dental insurance coverage for you and your family; retirement packages; student loan repayment options; malpractice insurance; overtime pay for overtime work, etc. Carefully consider these benefits, as they make a substantial contribution to your annual income. It might not hurt to compare what you are offered with what is offered elsewhere in the community.
-Hours: Check with people already working with the group or hospital you are considering. How many hours per week are they averaging? How many hours per week do you want to work?
-Call: Many groups and hospitals require CRNA’s to be on various levels of call. How often will you be on call? Are you required to stay in house when on call? Is the day after call a normal work day, or are you off on post-call days?
-Location: It may seem stupid, but is the group or hospital offering the contract in an area where you want to live? Rest assured, if there are no CRNA jobs exactly where you want to live, there are probably jobs within about a 30 minute drive of where you want to live.
-What type of anesthesia does your prospective employer do? There are a number of different ways and places that anesthesia may be done. If peri-partum anesthesia is something you want to do, make sure that the place you are considering does anesthesia in labor and delivery. If you enjoy doing anesthesia for open heart surgery, make sure the group you work for does open heart anesthesia, and allows CRNA’s to do these anesthetics.
Many prosepctive CRNA’s do not find out what they really enjoy doing in anesthesia until they have the opportunity to try out different things in school. So, if you sign a contract prior to finishing school, you may find that you enjoy something totally different than what is done where you are going to work. For this reason, many student anesthetists avoid signing contracts until they have been exposed to a number of different environments.