Folks, I hate to sound like a broken record (boy, am I dating myself by that analogy ... ) but you are paid what you are paid because you have chosen it. Pure and simple. You may not be fond of what you are paid, but there is something in the mix of pay and benefits and locations and whatever that makes you stay. Even if it's just inertia.
Be careful about the wage comparisons you hear. There's a whole culture of nursing urban myths going around about how [blanks] make [$blank]. A favorite is that garbage collectors make more than nurses, but not surprisingly, no one ever gives evidence of this. I am very skeptical about hotel maids making $18 an hour, even in New York. (My wife's family is all from New York, and I am VERY familiar with that area's economic realities).
And unions. Ahh, the siren song of nurses who imagine that there's a Shangri-la somewhere, a unionized hospital heaven where nurses are treated with Respect. Unionization is the finest way I know to keep nursing in the 20th century, or more likely, the 19th century. Unions were a great idea that has come and gone, and it is no accident that the number of unionized employees just keeps dropping and dropping and dropping (it was at 13.5% in Feb., 2001, down from 13.9% in 1999, and down from 36% in the mid 1950s), and nurses in 2101 will find it difficult to believe that some of us actually WANTED to treat nursing professionals as though they were on the assembly line at GM. The more unionization, the more bureaucracy, and the less innovation. And yes, I am talking about the ANA and their minions on the state levels. I won't even talk about the Teamsters and other such. That there are nurses who want to hook up with such organizations would be laughable, were it not so sad.
Jim Huffman, RN