If salaries were higher......?

  1. After reading Frog's thread about Nurse Agents, I have a hypothetical question for all of you: if the job is the same (as far as short staffing, mandatory overtime, etc.), would you be happier earning, say, $67./hr?
    Would there be some changes due to the higher salary- changes in how much you are respected by employers, MDs, patients and their families? Do you think that your employer would treat you differently than they do now?
    My own opinion is that things WOULD change in the workplace, there would be more respect for nurses who earn better salaries and more people would go into nursing, so the shortage would be eased in the future. But I'm not so sure what would happen in the actual workplace. I still think that if we continue to be forced to work short-staffed and mandatory overtime is still enforced, I still believe people would leave nursing at this time because of the lousy conditions.
    What do you think?
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  2. 24 Comments

  3. by   Q.
    No job that requires call, mandatory overtime, unsafe working conditions, is worth any amount of pay for me.

    There is more to life than salary.

    Which is evident in my decision to leave staff nursing full time at $26/hour to go to a clinic at $16/hour.
  4. by   teamrn
    Good question! My feeling, and I've discussed this with nurses and other non-healthcare professionals is that there's SO MUCH MORE to what I want out of life than $$, that it would only help so much. Sure, it would assure that I have access to a few more goods and services, but if that's all that changes, then it's a pretty hollow solution.

    I think nurses should be able to leave their jobs after a shift (unless there's an emergency), to families or continue their lives in whatever way THEY choose. Lunch or breaks need to be assured; the American public deserves NOTHING less. I spoke with a woman yesterday (not in healthcare AT ALL) who definitely did not want a nurse caring for her who was frazzled, without lunch or breaks, and in hour #14 that is mandated to keep her job in fear of 'patient abandonment'. The mandatory OT thing is being chipped away, state by state, BUT IT SHOULDN'T TAKE SO LONG!

    More $$ is only so enticing; I feel that our working conditions, the stuff that was ironed out by many in the industrial revolution and labor movement (though i'm not talking about unions, here), need a HUGE overhaul.

    I really feel strongly, that coming from a perspective of respect, many of the problems confronting nursing and the nursing shortage can be adressed. If young people KNEW that they'd meet with respect, and that respect meant that nurses would not be asked to or expected to perform non-nursing duties, given adequate time to educate patients as a professional, they'd be able to provide for families, plan for retirement, there was room for REAL advancement, and a host of others; then maybe we'd see more individuals chosing this incredibly fulfilling career.

    AS it is now, the shortage is fueled by fewer entering the field, more leaving the field, rising pharmaceuticals costs, more opportunites for today's youth. The age of the average nurse is increasing. As baby boomers beging to retire (in teaching, the age required to receive pension, if tenured, is 55!), there are fewer nurses to care for them. Heck, i'm one of those baby-boomers and have lots of concerns!

    Just my thoughts, how about yours?
  5. by   Peeps Mcarthur
    Uhmmm..........Some hospital just negotiated a $67 per hr contract ?
    I think admin will see this as 3x's the usual labor cost. As a business, how could they see this any differently? Well you can bet that will make someones workload increase!
    How then could they negotiate such a contract?.......Quite simply, that is , in fact, what they can afford.
    In any negotiation there must be a benchmark of referrence, such as this. In any proffession you are only worth what the last person made. There's no good reason now that the same experience could not get the same contract.
    That being said, how could the unions take a month of negotiations, with a period of warnings before, and come up with 13% over three years, and this lawyer gets Frog $67/hr.
    I think unions are a good thing, but it seems that more unions should be headed by whatever lawyers went to the same school as Frogs'. True, it was a contract for ALL the nurses, not just the experienced, but this is a benchmark, and could be used in any negotiations in the land between realistic value, and what the hospitals say is all they can afford.
    Last edit by Peeps Mcarthur on Aug 3, '01
  6. by   BeeStrong
    If we do not stick together to fight for the issues which are important to all of us then we will not make one inch of progress. It is all well and good to put on rose-colored glasses and play pollyanna about how wonderful everything is where you may work but guess what? In the rest of the world out there, things are not looking good and they are getting worse day by day, hour by hour. Even if it hasn't hit your hospital yet, rest assured the nursing shortage is coming to you too and the effects are not just devastating for patients and nurses, it is going to affect whole hospital wings and then hospital systems. That is why the hospital administrations need to be putting nurse retainment plans into effect, not just recruitment plans. They need to put some effort into keeping the nurses they have got already because there just aren't going to be enough new ones coming in. Why should they? Young American women have so many career options at this point that look so much better to them than nursing. Here in the Washington, DC area hospitals are now recruiting overseas in the Phillippines and elsewhere because of the shortage. Nice, huh. When we are sick and in need of care we will have foreign trained nurses doing the job that Americans don't want anymore. Get real folks!!! This is happening NOW. And to say that you are perfectly happy with the way things are is simply idiotic. Look around you, not just in your own little pond but at the big wide world. This shortage is already a crisis. When one nurse has 15 patients (very sick ones by the way) to care for, then it is a crisis that we had all better start addressing, sooner rather than later.
  7. by   Jenny P
    Well, it's like I thought: no amount of money will make our current workplace issues palatable.
    Wildtime, you are right in that the salary will increase the number of people interested in becoming nurses which should reduce the short staffing problems; but will we (those in the trenches NOW) be able to hold out for 2-4 years while those new nurses are being educated? I don't know if I can last that long. And the next question is: what will guarantee that hospitals will hire more nurses? After all, they have made do with such a small number of nurses for so long, why would they want more? The only way around that would be if it was mandated by the state boards of nursing or the government.
    Peeps McArthur, the contract you're quoting was between 1 nurse and the hospital. The same hospital is (in all likelyhood) paying less assertive nurses probably around $16/hr-- with experience! That's the problem with right-to-work states. They can pay anyone whatever they want, even new grads may be earning more per hour if the experienced nurse isn't up there crowing for herself (and there are lots of nurses who may be questioning if they are "good enough" to get a pay raise, let alone asking administration for it!!).
    Wildtime, I do get retirement in my collective bargaining contract (by my state association). It isn't a whole lot, but I've been under the contract long enough that I will be able to retire comfortably in about 3 or 4 years without a problem except for the medical insurance. And there is the problem: with my hubby's MS and my medical problems, I won't be able to afford reitrement until I qualify for Medicare (another 12 years-- IF they don't change it before then.
  8. by   Mijourney
    Hi. Wildtime, got to hand it to you this time. You make some valid arguments in your posts. I also have to agree with posters who make the point that for them it's about more than money. I personally would still have a problem with being asked or required to do extreme labor for $67/hr. For that amount, I should be calling the shots. But, we must all acknowledge that having money is important. In fact, those of us who know anything about the Bible know that issues surrounding wealth, power, and money are mentioned more than anything else. So while money is not the end all, having it can cure alot.
  9. by   fergus51
    Forget about the fact that it would recruit more nurses, it also would help us retain the ones we have. We lose TONS of nurses to the higher paying provinces and states. They aren't changing careers, they are doing what they love, just getting paid more. I think money isn't everything, but it sure is something.
  10. by   Nottanurse1
    Okay I know this is going to step on some toes out here, but the pay was higher, what would it do to medical costs???? My husband recently had an outpatient procedure. We were at the hospitlal for a total of 3 hrs tops. Just the hospital bill was over $7100. Now had the staff been making $67/hr than I image it would have topped over $12K. Personally I think money is not the reason for the shortage. Its the quality of nursing students allowed in schools would turn out to be in the field only for the money. That makes for bad nurses. Sorry again to step on toes but just my outlook. BTW can you image what it would do to our government to have to pay medicaid/medicare costs with those rates? We are in enough trouble and pay enough taxes as it is and if the hourly rates went up we just end up paying for in the long run.
  11. by   Charles S. Smith, RN, MS
    Originally posted by Jenny P
    After reading Frog's thread about Nurse Agents, I have a hypothetical question for all of you: if the job is the same (as far as short staffing, mandatory overtime, etc.), would you be happier earning, say, $67./hr?
    Would there be some changes due to the higher salary- changes in how much you are respected by employers, MDs, patients and their families? Do you think that your employer would treat you differently than they do now?
    My own opinion is that things WOULD change in the workplace, there would be more respect for nurses who earn better salaries and more people would go into nursing, so the shortage would be eased in the future. But I'm not so sure what would happen in the actual workplace. I still think that if we continue to be forced to work short-staffed and mandatory overtime is still enforced, I still believe people would leave nursing at this time because of the lousy conditions.
    What do you think?
    Jenny..thanx for the provocative question. I have posted on this topic before under the heading "What are you really worth?". There are some underlying themes in your question and I wish to address some of them. 1. Given the wages and benefits that are currently made by employees it would seem logical to assume that making twice or three times the current wage would make someone "happier". Research over the past decades, however, has demonstrated that money is not the prime motivator for employee satisfaction. I suggest that higher wages will make folks happier in the short run, make work life a little more bearable, but in the long run, will be equally dissatisfying. 2. One real issue in workplace dissatisfaction may stem from lack of control. We see this everyday on this bulletin board. Managers, adminstrators, even our co-workers, exercise a level of control over our practices, work place behaviors, our work lives, that may be at least partially related to our collective frustrations about the practice of nursing. We are a group that is historically and continually driven by others rather than driven by our own members. The rise in activism and collective bargaining seems to me to herald a real cry for more control over environment, work place regulations, and yes, financial rewards. 3. You mention gaining respect from others. I have a sense that no amount of money is going to afford respect from others. We must demonstrate respect for ourselves first, value the respect internally and then manifest that respect externally. We can not expect for others to respect us if we do not respect ourselves. To command respect and the financial rewards associated with it, we, as a group, must demonstrate publicly a value-added approach to our profession. Take a look at your unit with a critical eye and examine if you truly believe that your work group is worthy of such high regard. Look at performance, work ethic, ability, personal appearance, communication, honesty and integrity and see how you would measure your work group. I make no judgments here, just food for thought. 4. You ask the question about employers treating nurses differently at a higher wage. I suggest that employers treat all employees similarly regardless of wage. By that I mean, we are employed by organizations for a reason...to produce work that provides income and profit for employers. No employee is indispensable. There is usually someone available around the next corner to take our places, regardless of shortage or surplus. Businesses in the US including healthcare organizations reward people based on position power; the lower the position, the less rewards, even though it is the lowest positions producing the greatest amount of work for the orgainzation. Respect is tied to position rather than wage. If your position is in the higher echelons of the organization, you gain more respect, either indirectly or directly. 5. The obvious conclusions that I have drawn over my 30+ years in healthcare are: respect yourself, provide services that are worthy of respect, and make your own financial path in life and you will not need to count on others to help you make your life what you want it to be. Control your own financial and life destiny. I choose never to be employed again in this life....

    best regards to all
    chas
  12. by   Jenny P
    Wouldn't it be nice if nursing costs were LISTED on the bill instead of lumped under the bed charges? Then people would see that nursing is a valuable and valued profession. Nottanurse1, even if the nurse caring for your husband was making the $67.00 quoted in the other thread, the top price of nursing care for your husbands' 3 hours out patient care would have been $201.00-- and for 24 hours it would be $1608! That's at $67.00/ hour! Don't blame nursing for those high hospital costs; there are so many other charges lumped together that people naturally assume we are to blame for the high cost of medical care.
    If your husbands' bill was $7000, then let's assume that the nurse caring for him was making $30./hr (this is being generous in a large part of the country). The nurse would have earned $90 for those 3 hours, but the hospital would have lumped her pay under the bed charges. Then the hospital would have charged a minimum of $3.00 for something as simple as a Tylenol, PLUS tacked on a fee for the pharmacy and then another fee for the nurse administering the pill. The one simple Tylenol might now be who knows how much on the bill! I once was charged $6.00 for a dressing on a hospital bill when all I got was a lousy bandaide-- which I applied MYSELF! I refused to pay that and several other charges on the bill, and the hospital did not fight it (this was back in 1977, so imagine what the price of things are now!). This is one reason things are lumped together on the bill; so people don't see the charges for the actual services.
    You say you are not a nurse. Not knowing what you do, how would you like to work long hours for low pay; then be mandated to work another shift after you've already put in your 8 to 12 hour shift; then be told that it's YOUR fault Medicare and Mediaid costs are so high? No, nursing care costs for a hospital are less than 12% of a hospital budget these days. By not listing nursing care as a separate billing, we are also not included as part of the income of a hospital either. People don't go to hospitals because they are sick these days; they go to a hospital because they need NURSING care around the clock.
    There is big money being made in health care these days by health care corporations and insurance companies and their CEOs. That is why health care has become such a good business to get into. (I'll find the salary quotes on this if you haven't read them here before). And these same corporations that are making big money in this business have cut the caregivers, and denied care to the people who are paying for the right to be cared for.
  13. by   nurs4kids
    I agree with Chas. Also, I do not believe respect would come with higher wages (look at lawyers), respect comes from within. I can hear administration now (with the public backing), "For $67/hr you should be more than happy to work 16hrs, take 15 patients, etc..do you know how many people would LOVE to have your job??" I'd love more pay, but I don't think that's the answer to our problems.
  14. by   BeeStrong
    Actually nurses are amongst the most respected professions in this country, with used car salesmen and lawyers being near the bottom according to several recent surveys. Sadly, this does not translate into $$. This country notoriously underpays any and all professions which historically have been viewed as "women's work"...teaching, nursing, secretarial, day care. It is no wonder young men and women are looking elsewhere for their careers.

    Until and unless we can change these underlying attitudes (by sticking together, supporting each other, joining ANA or state organizations) and by writing senators, representatives, and in general mouthing off about the unfairness, injustice and prejudice which is translated ino low salaries, we will continue to beat our heads uselessly against this brick wall. NOW is the time to start mouthing off because NOW is the time that people are actually realizing that "hey, there might not be enough nurses around when I am the sick person in that hospital...."

    Just my 2 cents worth.

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