The Case for Practicing Nursing in Las Vegas

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    (originally posted by author's wife)

    vegas new grad opportunities
    post #1

    my husband wrote this for my school's yahoo group. your comments are welcomed.

    the case for practicing nursing in las vegas

    or if you think you?re helping your family by staying in kansas, think again!

    by lee white

    many readers of this message board will soon make a decision that will have a profound impact on the rest of their lives ? where to begin their nursing careers. most probably decided to study nursing because they want to help people. but let?s face it: a nurse can help people for a base salary of $15 an hour or a base salary of $25 an hour. at some point, the nurse has to take care of the nurse. alas, this article seeks to help butler nursing students help themselves and their families to a brighter future. strap in, hang on and, above all, keep an open mind.

    during the past year, my wife sherri, a butler county (kansas) community college nursing student, and i have devoted literally hundreds of hours to researching the best locations to begin her career. while pay was a major consideration, it was certainly not the only one. other factors included:

    ? cost of living ? several locations in northern and central california offer the best hourly pay, but cost of living and taxation make working there unattractive.
    ? training opportunities ? while there?s nothing wrong with working med./surg., some new graduate nurses may want to begin their careers in critical care, nicu or er. hospitals in our ?new home? had to offer some sort of internship or orientation program that allowed sherri to transition from school to a specialty.
    ? quality of life ? harsh winters were a definite no-no! we also wanted to live in an area with ample recreational opportunities. not all sunny destinations, however, offered acceptable pay or cost of living. florida, for example, excelled in every regard except for pay. ditto for texas (although new graduate pay in certain metropolitan areas was higher than in florida).

    the conclusion we reached after exploring opportunities locally, regionally and nationally was that las vegas offered the best ?new grad? opportunities. because butler is the closest community college to wichita, this article will examine how wichita stacks up against vegas when one considers the four criteria listed above: pay, cost of living, training opportunities and quality of life.

    without question, new graduate nurses make far more in las vegas than they do in wichita. base pay for new graduates at las vegas hospitals is about $25. that figure doesn?t include shift differentials (higher pay for working nights and weekends) and overtime. wichita hospitals pay new grads only about $15 an hour. that means a new nurse in vegas working only three 12-hour weekday shifts (36 hours) a week will make $46,800. shift differentials and overtime will push that amount higher ? much higher! the same nurse working the same hours in wichita would make only $28,080. find a calculator and start playing around with time and one-half ? $22.50 for wichita and $37.50 for vegas ? and the difference in overtime pay becomes striking, indeed. benefits are better in las vegas, as well. one vegas hospital pays health coverage for the nurse?s entire family.

    what does an extra $10 an hour really mean? at straight time ? a 40-hour work week ? it equates to $400 a week and $20,800 a year. a new nursing graduate who decides to stay in wichita might as well flush 20 grand down the nearest john. helpful hint: flush only about a grand at a time or have a big plunger at the ready! the nurse who has children can take some of the $20,800 and purchase their college education at today?s tuition prices (see http://nevadatreasurer.com/college/ ). saving half the money is another excellent idea. at 5.75 percent interest compounded monthly, one could save $373,829.99 in 20 years based on monthly deposits of $833.33. that?s a good start toward retirement. for those new nurses who are young enough to think they?ll never need money for retirement, an extra $20,800 a year will buy a lot of beer. of course, if one turns a few hands of video poker in a las vegas casino, one can have his beer for the price of a tip to the cocktail waitress! you?re not in kansas (city) anymore, dorothy!

    of course, extra pay is worthwhile only if it is not eaten up by taxes and an abnormally high cost of living. great news! nevada has no state income tax. expect to cough up as much as six percent each year in kansas individual income taxes. las vegas compares favorably with wichita in its cost of living. if a renter makes $50,000 a year in wichita, he would have to make $51,622 in las vegas. the las vegas amount is slightly higher at $53,337 for a homeowner. still, the better pay and benefits more than make up for the modest cost of living increase. and there is no way a new grad nurse will make $50,000 a year in wichita without working many hours of overtime. sit down with an accountant or financial planner to maximize tax and retirement savings as soon as an employer makes a job offer. here?s a link to a cost of living calculator: http://www.homefair.com/homefair/calc/salcalc.html


    there are nine major hospitals in the las vegas area and they?re expanding rapidly. there are two major hospital systems in wichita ? via christi and wesley. it is not surprising, then, that training and specialty opportunities are more plentiful in las vegas than they are in wichita. wesley medical center recently began advertising new grad training in the nicu, but, other than that, opportunities to start anywhere but med./surg. are almost non-existent in wichita.

    the most subjective factor sherri and i considered was quality of life. everyone has likes and dislikes. as mentioned earlier, we dislike winter, so vegas is a good match for us. true, summers in vegas are hot and dry. summers in wichita are hot and humid. compare average temperatures and precipitation for the two cities by clicking these links:

    http://www.weather.com/weather/clim...y/monthly/67201

    http://www.weather.com/weather/clim...onthly/usnv0049

    new nurses who work in a hospital or nursing home will likely see night and weekend duty. when i worked the graveyard shift at a wichita radio station, finding interesting and fun pastimes on days off was quite a challenge. after all, i was used to being awake when everyone else was sleeping. that won?t happen in las vegas. while sherri and i aren?t the world?s biggest gamblers, we will undoubtedly enjoy living in a city that truly never sleeps thanks in large part to the gaming industry. first-rate entertainment to please every taste is available 24 hours a day. in addition to casinos, vegas has every amenity available in wichita and more. although vegas is located in the middle of the desert, the lake mead national recreation area is just 30 miles away. lake mead makes el dorado lake look like a cattle pond! did you know skiing is about the same distance from vegas as lake mead? check out the recreational opportunities here:

    http://www.nps.gov/lame/pphtml/facts.html

    http://www.mtcharlestonlodge.com

    las vegas is one of the fastest-growing cities in the world. the county in which it is located, clark county, grew 6.4 percent per year between 1990 and 1999. wichita grew 1.1 percent per year during the same period. many businesses, individuals and retirees are making vegas home for the same reasons cited here. with its close proximity to los angeles (and the fiscal crisis in california will only serve to drive more people and businesses to nevada), las vegas is uniquely positioned for sustained growth in the coming decades. that, coupled with the overall aging of the u.s. population, means demand for nurses will probably remain stronger in las vegas than it will in wichita.

    a move to las vegas ? indeed, a move to any distant city ? means friends and family must be left behind. much like quality of life issues, each individual must come to grips with this reality in his own way. our family lives in the wichita and kansas city areas. sherri and i lived in portland, oregon, for three years and learned a thing or two about staying in touch. many long distance and local phone companies offer unlimited long distance plans. get one! talk to your friends and family by phone each day if you want (and if they want). we did this when we lived in portland and our relationship was, in some ways, closer than it is now that we?re back in the midwest. use e-mail, digital cameras and web cams to stay in touch, too. shop around for the best shipping rates for gifts and such. fedex ground offers good service at a competitive price.

    one advantage to living in las vegas is that airfares from wichita and practically everywhere else are much lower than fares to other cities. there?s also no problem finding flights home if an emergency arises. las vegas hospitals offer new nurses great vacation and holiday benefits (20 days or more of vacation is not uncommon), so use that time to fly home or to welcome friends and family to the most exciting city in the world. on your salary, you?ll be able to afford to buy their tickets if money is tight for them. buy airline tickets 21 days in advance to get the lowest fares. another good idea is to get a credit card that offers frequent flyer miles. pay as many household bills as possible with that credit card then write one check to the credit card company each month. that way, you?ll fly for next to nothing! just make sure to pay that balance in full each month so debt doesn?t pile up.

    bottom line: one can help his family a heck of a lot more with a fat paycheck than with sympathy and a smile. las vegas offers the best combination of circumstances sherri and i have found to make that fat paycheck a reality for new and experienced nurses. if you decide to join us in las vegas in 2005, drop us an e-mail at lee.white@mailnospam.com. take out the nospam before sending. feel free to e-mail with any ideas or opinions related to this article.




    links

    hospitals

    https://www.desertspringshospital.net/p1.html

    http://www.lakemeadhospital.com

    http://www.mountainview-hospital.com

    http://www.summerlinhospital.org

    http://www.sunrisehospital.com

    http://www.umc-cares.org

    http://www.las-vegas.med.va.gov/

    http://www.valleyhospital.net

    http://www.strosecares.com

    nursing information

    http://www.nvnurses.org/ -- nevada nurses association

    http://www.nursingboard.state.nv.us/ -- state board of nursing

    http://www.nvnurses.com/ -- jobs, jobs, jobs

    vegas information

    http://www.lvchamber.com ? the chamber of commerce

    http://www.reviewjournal.com ? the daily newspaper

    http://www.vegas.com ? great deals, show information, etc.

    http://www.allegiantair.com/ -- cheap air/hotel packages from wichita

    http://www.nellis.af.mil/home.htm -- big air force base just north of vegas
    Last edit by NRSKarenRN on Jan 19, '04
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  3. 23 Comments so far...

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    Ya, but the healthcare is Vegas is SCARY!!! NEVER want to be a patient there or work there AGAIN! Until they get there act together!
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    Really enjoyed reading this post. I have heard that nursing in Vegas is very, very stressful do to patient overload, but that is the case in lost of places. I thank you for the info and may do a little checking myself.

    P.S. Daughter lived in Wichita for over 3 years and wants to return there one day. I thought the place was very clean and the people were very nice.
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    Guess you've never been to Vegas. It's HOT, very HOT May to Sept. Due to all the fools moving there (not calling you a fool since you haven't moved there yet) traffic is a b*tch (equal to L.A.). As for working in their very understaffed hospitals, well understaffed is being nice.

    When looking for a job money shouldn't be your only consideration. Have you checked into benefits? (20 days a year vacation time? you think that's good? you might want to look at UCLA in LA...they start with 3 weeks vacation plus 15 holidays/year...over course you would have to live in LA....and I'm not suggesting that) Retirement? Professional growth? Staffing ratios? (whoops, they don't know that term there).

    Vegas is a great town to visit (I've left many $$$$'s at the blackjack tables), but I wouldn't want to live/work there. Also, even with Hoover Dam just down the road, water is becoming a very precious commodity....wonder what bottled drinking water will cost in a few years???
  7. 0
    Originally posted by Gomer
    Guess you've never been to Vegas. It's HOT, very HOT May to Sept. Due to all the fools moving there (not calling you a fool since you haven't moved there yet) traffic is a b*tch (equal to L.A.). As for working in their very understaffed hospitals, well understaffed is being nice.

    When looking for a job money shouldn't be your only consideration. Have you checked into benefits? (20 days a year vacation time? you think that's good? you might want to look at UCLA in LA...they start with 3 weeks vacation plus 15 holidays/year...over course you would have to live in LA....and I'm not suggesting that) Retirement? Professional growth? Staffing ratios? (whoops, they don't know that term there).

    Vegas is a great town to visit (I've left many $$$$'s at the blackjack tables), but I wouldn't want to live/work there. Also, even with Hoover Dam just down the road, water is becoming a very precious commodity....wonder what bottled drinking water will cost in a few years???

    I agree with you however I resent being called a fool :kiss

    May through September....this year try October...it was well into the 100's through the begining of the month but of course as Halloween night rolls around it drops...we have no spring or fall.

    Water...forget grass, I have rocks for a yard (it does look nice) Our cost of living....it's good for now, but let me tell you, in the year that i've owned this house, it went up by 40,000 (this is a new house and they are still building more) Traffic...don't even freakin ask me about it. There was a study done and Vegas is tied with San Diego on hours we spend in traffic....San Diego has 2 million more ppl than us.
    Schools....Sorry, but I would never put my kids in school here....bad education unless it's private...HIGH drop out rate.
    Clean.....I can see that...we're so new but on the other hand the dust that kicks up because of all the construction is a mess.

    Oh and we're becoming a very violent city. There have been many reports on the news about gang memebers from LA moving here because it's cheaper (hey even gang members have budgets)

    With that said.....I do like what this town has to offer if your single or have no kids. I have an insta party any time I want on the Strip. Good food, etc.

    The city is growing and needs to work out it's kinks....we need more culture!!!! However...our mayor....he's awesome...I've never seen a better one, he's not afraid to stand up and speak out for his town!

    And finally....I think this town is amazing at night. and the sunsets over the mountains are awesome...give this town some time...hopefully it'll get better and not worse!
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    I lived in Las Vegas this past fall (Spring Valley to be exact). The endless sunny days were a nice change of pace from the non stop rain I experienced during the summer in NY. I also saw some pretty decent sunsets.

    Some of the things I didn't like about it though were:

    Traffic: I was not a fan of the seemingly endless red lights. It would take us forever just to get to the local grocery store.

    Heat: When I first arrived in Las Vegas in early September, it was pretty uncomfortable. Someone once said that during the summer in Las Vegas you could fry an egg on the sidewalk.

    Water: Having to buy bottled water (instead of being able to use the tap) was something to get used to.


    Lack of "green": I kid around with my friend who still resides there and say he lives on Mars (due to the vast open areas of rocks and cement-like dirt that surrounded our neighborhood).
  9. 0
    I am not sure I would want a permanent move to Vegas, but I would like to give it a try from mid Oct to mid May.
    Being an experienced nurse, I thought I would be welcomed, but all I hear is negative comments. Have the hospitals filled all of the openings? Would me getting a job there for awhile adversely effect your pay? Have you ever spent a winter with coal dust frozen oer the snow until everything is black? Have you ever driven 25 minutes on icey roads for a loaf of bread? I buy bottled water now, and we have no usage guidelines.
    I am still thinking of checking it out. Will keep in mind all that has been written here.
  10. 0
    Originally posted by barefootlady
    I am not sure I would want a permanent move to Vegas, but I would like to give it a try from mid Oct to mid May.
    Being an experienced nurse, I thought I would be welcomed, but all I hear is negative comments. Have the hospitals filled all of the openings? Would me getting a job there for awhile adversely effect your pay? Have you ever spent a winter with coal dust frozen oer the snow until everything is black? Have you ever driven 25 minutes on icey roads for a loaf of bread? I buy bottled water now, and we have no usage guidelines.
    I am still thinking of checking it out. Will keep in mind all that has been written here.
    Vegas is not a permanent city. I moved here to find a cheaper cost of living so I could go to school full time. I was able to buy a nice house and a new car and meet a nice guy. We both have a love hate realtionship with the city..you have to..we both know it's not the place to raise a family or someplace we want to call home....but we like it here. Just like a lot of other cities it has it's down sides but I still am VERY happy I moved here and was able to experience it.

    I really don't think you would be taking away anyone's pay.....they are begging for nurses here. Where I volunteer they keep telling me to come work, another hospital where I know a nurse needs ppl and she keeps telling me to come on over. I'm sure these negative comments are everywhere...it's just with Vegas's rapid growth we don't have enough ppl to fill the spots so that's something I wouldn't stress about too much.

    Oh, and you buy the bottle water because you wouldn't let your dog drink the stuff that comes out of our taps!! And you also get a water softener because you'll hate your hair and the way your clothes and skin feel.

    I say go for it! The only problem I had with the OP was it painted a utopia like picture of Vegas and I think ppl really need to hear both sides...most ppl know nothing of Vegas outside the strip. I'm sure you'll like it...there are good and bad places everywhere. Our winters are just as cold as a lot of places but we tend not to get snow (how ever we did this year, but it only last half a day!) It's the wind that will drive you crazy...we get lot's of it!

    Just want to give 2 sides to everything. Oh, and the red light thing....the city is spending who knows how much to put all thoes red lights in sinc...it'll take some time but they're working out the kincks!
  11. 0
    Lived in Vegas for a couple of years while hubby was stationed at Nellis AFB. Working conditions at the time (90-92) were fine. Cost of living was good. Public schools are very poor and bussing is common. Gangs have moved in from LA and turned neighborhoods into ghost towns. The crime is bad! However, I did enjoy working at Humana (now called just Sunrise). The nurse exec is Dee (can't remember her last name) and she was a wonderful house supervisor when I worked there. So...
  12. 0
    i have been here since 1999 and at first was an adjustment not climate coming from so cal, but the people!!!!! But i have adjusted just fine, since i am no longer in the hospital setting, i choose office setting and love it. i avoid traffic via surface streets much faster than the crappy freeways out here, just like so. cal. i love the heat, hate the cold due to the winds when they pick up during the cold season, i wish it would be warm all the time, i can handle the 120's just fine just let me be by the water!!!! oh wait, the lake is disappering, water shortage is serious out here! Stop building. there is watering restrictions, cant even wash your car at your house, so here i drive in my nice german car that i worked so hard for and its flipping dirty, and the car washes arent cheap and do a crappy job, my dog can do a better job. ITS ALL ABOUT LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION. we all know crime is everywhere you just need to know where to move, stay out of the ghetto, thats where it all happens lol, no its everywhere, my hubby is CSI and tells me about all the bad areas, so i have a sense of where to stay out of, for my safety. Remember location location location. Many hospitals not many nurses, if i needed to be flown to the hospital for trauma reasons i would mark on my chest in ink take me to a different state, this place is scarry. our own governor went out of state for surgery.... tell ya something, its sad but true, i hope vegas gets better in the health care thing along with the malpractice issues, that scares our docs away the good ones!!!!!!!
    so all in all vegas is wonderful place to reside, if you like the heat, and want to have something to do, i pretty much avoid the strip like the plague, im only there when i have company


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