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I have an opportunity to work with a psychiatric nurse practitioner. Can I be self-employed or do I have to be her employee?

Friday May 31, 2013
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Dear Donna,

I have an opportunity to work with a psychiatric nurse practitioner in her private practice. She is offering me an hourly rate without benefits. Is this an opportunity to identify myself as self-employed —as sole proprietorship, a limited liability company or a corporation? Or would I have to work for her as her employee? I would be providing services such as testing, education, counseling and billing patients' health insurance for reimbursement.

Possible Sole Proprietor

Dear Donna replies:

Dear Possible Sole Proprietor,

The answer to your question may depend on what you work out with the NP. What is her expectation — are you an employee or an independent contractor? Which arrangement would you prefer? If you are an employee, then there are certain things she will have to do including withholding taxes and Social Security disability from your paycheck.

If you are going to be designated as an independent contractor, then you have to be given the flexibility to work at your own schedule. You also would be responsible for paying your own taxes. There are rules and guidelines that define and govern this. Do an Internet search to learn the difference between an employee and an independent contractor.

If you do end up being an independent contractor, or at least want to consider both, you don't necessarily need to set up a business entity — unless you are going to do this on a frequent and ongoing basis. Talk to an accountant and a nurse attorney about this situation.

Best wishes,

Donna Cardillo, RN, MA, well-known career guru, is Nurse.com’s “Dear Donna” and author of “Your First Year as a Nurse: Making the Transition from Total Novice to Successful Professional” and “The ULTIMATE Career Guide for Nurses: Practical Advice for Thriving at Every Stage of Your Career.” Information about the books is available at www.Nurse.com/CE/7010 and www.Nurse.com/CE/7250, respectively. To ask Donna your question, go to www.Nurse.com/Asktheexperts/Deardonna. Find a “Dear Donna” seminar near you: Call 800-866-0919 or visit http://Events.nursingspectrum.com/Seminar.