I'm on salary Jeansky. I too, work in an office, but it is a community mental health center governed by county officials. I work in an extremely rural area but it is geographically the largest county in my state. Comparitively speaking, this particular county is in like the bottom 12% as far as pay for the type of work I do. Currently I am the only nurse in my center. We have 2 other centers which come under the same 'umbrella' as us, and would you believe one of them has 2 nurses, the other has 6. Most recently, I am being transitioned into a more administrative role, which has added multiple other responsibilites in addition to ALL the nursing duties. I'm not one to whine or complain, but have felt so overwhelmed lately, I've pretty much told them either get me some help or I will consider other options.
I work a sort of 'flex time'. Work hours are normally 8-5. Some staff work 4 ten hour days/week. I asked a few years ago, to be allowed to cut my lunch break to 30 min. so quitting time could be 4:30 for me. The leaving at 4:30 usually works out pretty good. But the lunch break - forget about it. No such thing as lunch.
The other day, I learned that a coworker, social worker, is making about 5k/yr more than me. I felt I had been slapped in the face.
The only real reward is the respect I feel I get from some of my patients and a few of my colleagues. The other day, when feeling overwhelmed to the point of considering resigning, a patient told me...."you are well thought of in the looney world". One of the doctors I work with once voted me 'employee of the month'. When he tells patients to call the center prn, he says "just call my nurse". I could feel dumped on, because he should be referring them to their primary clinicians (who are social workers though), but to me, it implies he has more confidence in me, and that feels pretty good.
I realize I am rambling here, but it actually feels pretty good to vent to someone who may understand. I read what you wrote the other day about calling in meds, and considered responding to that post. Although our practices may have a lot of differences, there may be a lot of similarities as well. Feel free to email me anytime Jeansky.