Why We Don't Have Enough Nurses (It's Not Low Wages)

  1. October 16, 2007

    Why We Don't Have Enough Nurses (It's Not Low Wages)

    Consider this: In the San Francisco area, a nurse with a bachelor's degree can hope to start out with a salary of $104,000. The salary for a nursing professor with a Ph.D. at University of California San Francisco starts at about $60,000....

    ... Hospitals have had to raise nursing salaries (as well they should), not just because nurses are scarce but because, in our chaotic hospital system, the work can be extraordinarily stressful.
    Nurses know better than anyone just how many "adverse events" occur each day --even in the most prestigious U.S. hospitals.

    "I'm terrified of killing someone," one young nurse confided to me about a year ago. After working in a hospital in Bermuda for a number of years, she was bored, and had come back to work in New York, where she had friends and family. She had worked in New York before, but she wasn't at all sure that she would stay. "In our hospitals, it's just too crazy," she said.

    Her story also sheds light on why nursing professors are willing to work for $60,000 a year when they could, no doubt, more than double their salaries if they were willing to wade into the fray at local hospitals. ...

    http://www.healthbeatblog.org/2007/1...-dont-hav.html
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  2. 47 Comments

  3. by   Brita01
    No, it's not the wages. I know too many nurses, including my myself, who took major paycuts to leave the horrors of hospital nursing behind. If the patient load/paperwork load was manageable, and patient family members weren't allowed to treat nurses any way they pleased in the name of "customer service", there would be far fewer nurses running away from hospitals faster than speeding locomotives.
    Hospitals - instead of continuously raising wages (without changing conditions) and adding new wings (that you can't staff), take that same amount of money and hire some more daggone nurses to make conditions more pleasing! Jeez, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure that out.
  4. by   CityKat
    Quote from spacenurse
    October 16, 2007

    Why We Don't Have Enough Nurses (It's Not Low Wages)

    Consider this: In the San Francisco area, a nurse with a bachelor's degree can hope to start out with a salary of $104,000. The salary for a nursing professor with a Ph.D. at University of California San Francisco starts at about $60,000....
    Hmmm..Just want to point out that the numbers for a new grad starting out are incorrect. I'm a new grad and I'm certainly not making what you are quoting and I work for one of the higher paying hospitals in the SF area and am working the overnight shift. One can "hope" to start out at that much, but nurses with 7 years more experience than I and working the overnight are maybe making that.

    As far as your point with professors being underpaid. Definitely. A law professor makes 120k per year for teaching law.
  5. by   oramar
    Quote from StudentNurseBean
    Hmmm..Just want to point out that the numbers for a new grad starting out are incorrect. I'm a new grad and I'm certainly not making what you are quoting and I work for one of the higher paying hospitals in the SF area and am working the overnight shift. One can "hope" to start out at that much, but nurses with 7 years more experience than I and working the overnight are maybe making that.

    As far as your point with professors being underpaid. Definitely. A law professor makes 120k per year for teaching law.
    I have never seen an article like this that quoted a salary for a staff nurse that did not seem high. I don't know why they do that. It seems like they always use the high end numbers. Is it an attempt to be dramatic?
  6. by   PreRN Katie
    I may be way off base here, but to me it seems like part of the reason we don't have enough nurses is because we don't have enough nursing programs, or rather enough spots in existing programs. I am having a heck of a time finding a nursing school that will accept me and I already have a college education and a 3.8 GPA. There's just not enough professors to teach incoming nursing students, I suppose because it's more to their benefit to work at a hospital or something rather than teach. That's just my two cents, but hopefully something will change soon, we need nurses so badly all over the country.
  7. by   november17
    Quote from PreRN Katie
    I may be way off base here, but to me it seems like part of the reason we don't have enough nurses is because we don't have enough nursing programs, or rather enough spots in existing programs. .
    Yes, but now imagine yourself getting your degree, getting burned out, and deciding that nursing sucks after a few years. This is the situation this article is talking about. Churning out more new grads is not the solution to the problem. It may help resolve the problem, but it certainly doesn't help very much.
  8. by   Jokerhill
    It's been said before and Ill say it again there is not a shortage of nurses, there is just a shortage of nurses willing to do what we do for what we get paid. Fix what we do or increase the pay.
  9. by   CityKat
    Quote from oramar
    I have never seen an article like this that quoted a salary for a staff nurse that did not seem high. I don't know why they do that. It seems like they always use the high end numbers. Is it an attempt to be dramatic?
    Honestly, I have no idea why someone would do that. Perhaps they didn't actually do their research? People are so mislead in this country

    Quote from PreRN Katie
    I am having a heck of a time finding a nursing school that will accept me and I already have a college education and a 3.8 GPA.
    I know this may not be what you want to hear, but I was in your position at one time and it's what I did. I went out of state and I went private. It's far more money than I would like to have spent on my education, but I had a 3.6 overall with one other degree and I couldn't get into a program here in Ca for the life of me. I was wait listed along with being told there wasn't enough clinical spots for me for a year. I applied out of state and was accepted very quickly. Perhaps going private in your state might work. I also wanted to live in the big apple
  10. by   martymoose
    Quote from Brita01
    If the patient load/paperwork load was manageable, and patient family members weren't allowed to treat nurses any way they pleased in the name of "customer service", there would be far fewer nurses running away from hospitals faster than speeding locomotives.
    Hospitals - instead of continuously raising wages (without changing conditions) and adding new wings (that you can't staff), take that same amount of money and hire some more daggone nurses to make conditions more pleasing! Jeez, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure that out.

    You said it!! where i am it's all "customer service" and exactly what you said- pts/families are almost encouraged to to what they please, ie being rude, petty picky etc. And unfortunately for the kind patient patients, i feel bad that THEY notice us running around like chickens with our heads cut off, and they " dear you need to take a break". how sad they notice. and the excuse of " we're shorthanded today " seems to be happening more and more. which leaves us more and more vulnerable to make mistakes, possibly major ones. Extra pay is nice , but id almost rather have the extra staff than extra pay. yep the hospitals dont see the BIG picture.
  11. by   totoo
    I am a new nurse. I have 18 months long term and sub-acute experience. I have found resigning is almost impossible. When you try they say you're fired. 4 jobs in 18 months, and I am about to start again. I may not have been the best nurse at first, but as a RN student, we were trained as hospital nurses, but I could not get a job in a hospital, primarily, I think because I am over fifty. I am now an excellent nurse, even my DON who I stayed with for 10 months said I was an excellent nurse. But after working 2 shifts, and as supervisor I did not write my assesment on a patient I sent to the hospital. I went back in and the administer wanted to suspend me (oh, and my husband was getting his first dose of chemo for lung cancer that morning). My DON was upset that I would not take a suspension. I have found that LPN's are very jealous of RN, but hey, they could get their RN's if money is an issue to them, but instead the lie and backstab. My life was even threatened by an LPN unit manager because I made more than her. I think she should have been terminated immediately, and that is why I would not accept a suspension, I did not want to work under those circumstances. This same LPN went around and did things the doc's did not order even after she was told by them not to. Med errors abound, no one seems to care. I was told by my favorite super that narrative nn's are illegal...NOT. When I pointed errors out I was told that it was because those nurses have been nurses for SO many years. Wrong is wrong were I come form. The real shame is that I love my residents and protect them. I actually give all my meds, and correctly. I could write volumes on this and more, but to cut to the chase, nursing is very political. I am not giving up, most facilities understand the politics of nursing. I love nusing, I put patient saftey before paper work which I do anyway 99.9% of the time. I am looking for answers. If nursing is not about the patient it is not nursing. Anyone who can help solve our confusion, PLEASE help. Nursing shortage, Nah. I have seen really good nuses fired for reasons I cannot comprehend, and REALLY, REALLY bad nurses allowed to continue to keep making unsafe errors. WHY?
  12. by   Brita01
    Quote from totoo
    I have found that LPN's are very jealous of RN, but hey, they could get their RN's if money is an issue to them, but instead the lie and backstab. My life was even threatened by an LPN unit manager because I made more than her.
    You may want to rephrase this, because to me it sounds like you're talking about ALL LPN's. I'm an LPN and I have never been jealous of another RN and I certainly don't lie and backstab. Your life was threatened by an LPN because you make more money than her? Gee, the parking lot must be littered with all the bones of the former RNs that have come before you.
  13. by   Trophywife81
    Totoo, I am sorry that you had such an unpleasant experience with an LPN. But please, don't let that one experience dictate your view of the entire LPN nursing population. Sure, there are going to be some rotten apples who are LPNs just like there are some who are RNs. When emotions are running high, it's easy to make broad generalizations like that; but please, don't stereotype all LPNs based on ONE (or even more than one) sour experience....it can only make the sometimes-messy political aspects of nursing all the worse.

    I hope your next working experience with an LPN is a nicer one.
  14. by   Marie_LPN, RN
    Quote from totoo
    I am a new nurse. I have 18 months long term and sub-acute experience. I have found resigning is almost impossible. When you try they say you're fired. 4 jobs in 18 months, and I am about to start again. I may not have been the best nurse at first, but as a RN student, we were trained as hospital nurses, but I could not get a job in a hospital, primarily, I think because I am over fifty. I am now an excellent nurse, even my DON who I stayed with for 10 months said I was an excellent nurse. But after working 2 shifts, and as supervisor I did not write my assesment on a patient I sent to the hospital. I went back in and the administer wanted to suspend me (oh, and my husband was getting his first dose of chemo for lung cancer that morning). My DON was upset that I would not take a suspension. I have found that LPN's are very jealous of RN, but hey, they could get their RN's if money is an issue to them, but instead the lie and backstab. My life was even threatened by an LPN unit manager because I made more than her. I think she should have been terminated immediately, and that is why I would not accept a suspension, I did not want to work under those circumstances. This same LPN went around and did things the doc's did not order even after she was told by them not to. Med errors abound, no one seems to care. I was told by my favorite super that narrative nn's are illegal...NOT. When I pointed errors out I was told that it was because those nurses have been nurses for SO many years. Wrong is wrong were I come form. The real shame is that I love my residents and protect them. I actually give all my meds, and correctly. I could write volumes on this and more, but to cut to the chase, nursing is very political. I am not giving up, most facilities understand the politics of nursing. I love nusing, I put patient saftey before paper work which I do anyway 99.9% of the time. I am looking for answers. If nursing is not about the patient it is not nursing. Anyone who can help solve our confusion, PLEASE help. Nursing shortage, Nah. I have seen really good nuses fired for reasons I cannot comprehend, and REALLY, REALLY bad nurses allowed to continue to keep making unsafe errors. WHY?

    Yep, that's right, LPNs are jealous of RNs. How very rude and assumptive. :angryfire
    Last edit by Marie_LPN, RN on Oct 20, '07

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