Another question about nursing salaries - page 3

Why do nurses think that nursing salaries are so terrible? Around my metropolitian area, new nurses can start at 25-27 dollars an hour. That is at least $50,000 per year. Conversely, many of my... Read More

  1. by   ratchit
    Originally posted by EmeraldNYL
    Ratchit, thank you for the thoughtful insight. Why are nursing salaries stagnating after a few years of employment? Also, why do salaries seem to vary so much depending on your geographical area? I certainly don't think nurses are "hookers" for asking for more money, but on the other hand, I don't think that more money automatically equals more respect.

    Nurses don't stagnate after a few years- they stagnate from day one. I read an article recently that showed that RN's have not only lost actual salary (due to raises being less than cost of living increases) than all other fields including elementary school teachers. We start out higher than other college grads but we get smaller raises every year after that, which really add up.

    For example, this year the hospitals around us had just received big raises. We were talking and the rumors were that we would get about 10%. We got 3%- every single nurse, weak and strong, got the same amount. We also got a letter with the first paycheck after the raise that said we were paid more than surrounding hospitals- which to be kind, MIGHT have been true 18 months before. Basically- here's your 3% raise, like it or lump it. My sweetie got more than double that, plus a largelump sum bonus, and gets more money put into his retirement fund than I can even bring myself to discuss.

    As far as geographical differences, there are urban/rural and east/west differences. Cities have higher housing costs, rough commutes, and often have multiple hospitals. So they have to offer something their competitors don't if they want to attract nurses. I have worked on both coasts and I think the west coast treats nurses better than the east, as a general rule. The west coast seems to be more interested in safe care and also seems more interested in retaining staff. I also know that some areas were hit by the shortage differently than others. Boston, for example, has lots of nursing schools. People came here for school and decided to stay, so we had more new grads than other areas for a while. So our shortage hit later. We've caught up, though- LOL.

    I didn't mean to imply that money is the only way for us to get respect. But what are the other options? Administration gives us pens, lunc bags, and cafeteria gift certificates. They wouldn't give that to a doc except as a party favor. Admin thinks in terms of money. We want to be taken seriously, so we want their respect. If we can be bought with pens and lunch bags, they won't respect us. So we need to ask for what THEY value- money.

    Which is OK with me since we're underpaid anyway.
  2. by   Liann
    I understand nurses being dissatisfied with pay, but at least you GET raises annually. I am a medical technologist (which requires a BS degree) and work in a major trauma center laboratory. We make around 12-16 dollars an hour, work all those shifts and holidays etc and are told that only the nurses get a raise or signing bonus because they are hard to find these days. I am responsible for the blood bank testing and also do all blood gas work. Is my job any less important than the nurse?

    By the way, our schools of Medical Technology are closing all over the country, so maybe we have a chance of being hard to replace too...I will be out of health care field by then. Hope someone invents a robot to do lab testing.
  3. by   ratchit
    Originally posted by EmeraldNYL
    Susy K, thanks! That was my point at the beginning, a lot of my bio/chem friends are not making very good money (if they can even find jobs). Of course they would be if they furthered their education beyond a bachelor's, but nurses make more money for getting a master's or PhD as well. Is there any profession where people are truly happy with the money they are making, besides pro athletes and movie stars? I hear teachers, physicians, administrative people, etc, etc complain that they are not paid what they are worth. Maybe it's time to start playing the lottery...
    Hi again. This is actually another way that nursing pay stagnates. A chemistry PhD gets paid a lot more than someone with a BS. At my hospital, a BSN gets $5 a week more than an ADN. An MSN gets $5 or maybe $10 a week more than that. If I went to teach, I would take a pay cut. We don't get paid anything significantly more for higher degrees. I don't want to be an NP and refuse to take on $20,000 in debt to get a degree that will at BEST earn me another $1000 a year. So I have lots of incentive to go back to school- but not for nursing.
  4. by   EmeraldNYL
    NP's don't make that much more than BSN's, but what about CRNA's or nurses who go into administration/management? And what's the solution to all of this anyway? Why are the administrative types STILL not listening when it is obvious that the "shortage" is turning into a crisis? Obviously something will have to change or we will have no nurses left! This is so frusturating.... :uhoh21:
  5. by   TYGGER
    I don't begrudge teachers what they have. They formed a very strong union and stand by one another, something very few RN/Nursing staff would do.

    As far as ancillary help, at our hospital they got Nuthin' when the RN's and rad tech's and Rest therapists got huge amounts. they are short handed and there is a shortage of Lab Techs also. I really don't think its fair and we should stand with them to make it stop, but standding alone does not help the situation.

    I like the extra cash and will always chase the buck. I figure if they pay me more to work less it propagates the nursing shortage meaning they will need to pay me more so I can work Less and there fore extending the nursing shortage ect....

    A MD I work with is leaving for the new hospital, when the manager asked if he was trying to recruit her staff his reply was great " I don't have to recruit them, you are driving them away" Which is true. right now 50%+ of our staff is planning on leaving related to management.
  6. by   Indiana ED RN
    Hello All,

    Oh what a wondeful subject.... Pay!!!!

    I recently moved from a different state to here in Indiana. My pay almost dropped 50%. I have also found out the only thing cheaper here is real estate. Everything else is about on an even par.

    I do not believe nurses should be millionaires but I do believe they should get paid more than what they do now.

    I know people that make more money than I do doing security type. It is amazing how someone would pay more to guard a store and money then to help save your life.

    Exluding Fire Fighting and Police type jobs....where they are not paid very well either....Nurses are paid poorly for the risks they must take. Many people do not have to deal with physical/verbal abuse in their work place nor do they have to be at risk of being exposed to a deadly disease. These are things that nurses are exposed to almost daily.

    The Law of Supply and Demand does not work in healthcare for some reason....unless you are a physician.

    The hospital I work at just cares that you show up and have a heart beat....breathing is optional (grab a BVM you will make it through the shift). They are so money focused on the customer they miss who is bringing the money in for them... the nursing staff.

    Things that would be helpful would be an increase in pay, tax breaks for nurses (at least until the shortage is over) and better working conditions.

    I would be much happier if the next person that verbally abused me was thrown out on their head into the street, like a bouncer does at a club, instead of management siding with them...offering them milk and cookies and threating to fire the RN (without even hearing their side of the story)

    Well Well I covered so much ..... ::::turning venting machine off:::

  7. by   llg
    Originally posted by EmeraldNYL
    but nurses make more money for getting a master's or PhD as well. :
    That is not as true as many people think. While the base salary is usually higher for nurses in management, staff development, etc., we are usually salaried, not hourly employees. Therefore, we get no overtime nor shift differentials. When you only get 40 hours of pay for 45-50 hours of work, your "pay per hour" becomes significantly less than that of the staff you are supposedly leading.

    I have a PhD and work in a hospital's staff development department. Considering the overtime potential, shift differentials, charge differentials, preceptor differentials, and retention bonus money that a staff nurse is eligible for, I have calculated that I would be making about $5,000 - $10,000 more per your IF I only had an ADN and worked full time as a staff nurse at my hospital.

    If you become a college instructor, it's usuallyl much worse. With only a Master's Degree, you are rarely elible for promotion or for other "goodies" that sweeten the deal for faculty. The pay at the the Instructor and Assistant Professor levels is usually much less than that of an experienced staff nurse who get time-and-a-half for any overtime hours, shift differentials, etc.

    I am happy I went to graduate school (twice) -- but the salaries for those of us in leadership positions have not kept pace with all the raises, bonuses, etc. that have occurred in recent years for staff nurses because of the shortage.

  8. by   km rn
    Nursing Salary Facts - You need to know!
    The following are government statistics from October 2002 Contemporary Long Term Care. They represent average national salaries.

    Nursing salaries overall have remained stagnant in the past 10 years. Nurse's actual earnings have increased steadily from 1983 - 2002. However, "real" earnings have been flat since 1991. (Real earnings = money available after adjusting for inflation).

    Secretary Thompson points out that nurses' salaries are actually behind thos of another perceived low income group - elementary school teachers. In addition, nurses' salaries are falling further behind each survey period.

    1984 Elementary school teacher average salary = 25,000.
    1984 Nurse average salary = 19,000.
    Nurses averaged 4,400 less per year.

    2002 Elementary teacher average salary = 54,800
    2002 Nurse average salary = 41,000
    Nurses averaged 13,800 less per year.

    Furthermore much of a nurses' wage growth takes place early and tapers off quickly. A nurse with 5 years experience makes about 15% more than a new graduate but only 1 - 3% less than a nurse with 15 - 20 years experience.

    1984 -- annual salary for nurse = 25,064
    1984 -- "real" salary for nurse = 22,063

    1990 -- annual salary for nurse = 29,588
    1990 -- "real salary for nurse = 23,861

    1995 -- annual salary for a nurse = 35,146
    1995 -- "real" salary for a nurse = 23,711

    2001 -- annual salary for a nurse = 41,060
    2001 -- "real" salary for anurse = 23,409.

    A lot of the public I run into believe that nurses are very high paid - they have no concept of the stagnation of salaries that we live with. Teachers have effectively educated the public regarding their low pay but as nurses we have been less effective.

    Notice how your "real" salary has been 23,000 since 1990. The stagnation of wages has a lot to do with retention of nurses. I always inform people considering nursing of the salary issues - I continue to be amazed how my friends in non-nursing have greatly surpassed my income - but they are in business, engineering and accounting ...mostly traditional male roles whereas nursing/teaching is still considered a female profession.
  9. by   TheBrainMusher
    Ok, so the nursing pay sucks ... what can and will nurses do to fix it? I know people have left the bedside nursing, but are there unions out there? (someone mentioned to me about nurses unions). I am a potential nursing student and money isn't a big issue for me since my area is highly competitive, but I have student loans from my BS degree that I have and I need to live (I would eventually like to move out of my parents' house!)
    What can we do about these nursing shortage situations? I met a woman the other day who said she's been a nurse for 12 years and LOVES what she does and wouldn't trade it for the world.

    I agree with Emerald as in Philadelphia area, although I had not heard they were THAT high ... the starting salaries were from $40K up (with $30K starting for the first 90 days, then raises fairly quickly thereafter, or something like that ... is that normal?)

    Right now in my position I'm averaging 12% raises with end of year 1/2 paycheck bonuses. Money wise it wouldnl't be wise for me to switch, but I"m so bored with what I do. Maybe I should be a teacher, get the pension and the benefits then do nursing! lol!
  10. by   Q.

    Do you think as an advanced degree nurse, we might get paid more if we were employed by a NON healthcare facility? Like a business or corporation, but still in a leadership role, and functioning as a nurse?
  11. by   llg
    Originally posted by Susy K

    Do you think as an advanced degree nurse, we might get paid more if we were employed by a NON healthcare facility? Like a business or corporation, but still in a leadership role, and functioning as a nurse?
    In some cases, "yes."
    In other cases, "no."

    I've met some people who have done that and the results seem to be varried -- very dependent on the particular job and company. If the job has a lot of administrative responsibilities, then the pay seems to be higher. If the job involves more overseeing of patient care, they seem to pay "nurses salaries," in other words, comparable to what nurses make in health care institutions doing similar-type work.

    As I have said in the past, I don't regret all my education and am happy with my job (most of the time). However, I do think the whole compensation system is out of whack.

    Sometimes, I am happy that I am not paid more. If I were to get a big raise, they would expect more from me! e.g. Because I get paid for only 40 hours regardless of how many I work, I generally refuse to work more than 45 unless it is an emergency, etc. If they were paying me for extra hours, they would expect me to work more than 40 routinely, and I don't want that.

  12. by   TYGGER
    I must say most of those, I have dealt with, in the management positions with advanced degrees do a very poor job and have forgotten being at the bedside. I was once told by senior RN staff member her thought on managers...those smart enough to be a manager are smart enough not to want to be one.

    I was at a unit meeting with the chief nursing officer and her first comment was about how she was published "I wrote a text book on emergency nursing" and what her degrees were. We didn't care. She did not impress us at all. She once went to work in PACU on a very busy day and disappeared for over an hour, when asked where shewent when she got back she said she needed a break. No one else got a break that day and no one else got lunch. She completely trashed her credentials.
  13. by   Q.
    These types of stories gives me a headache.

    My only woe with things like this is to remember that no one is an expert at everything. Many advanced degree nurses may have forgotten about how to be at the bedside, but that not only is due to ever changing technology, but simply because, that is not where this advanced degree nurse's expertise lies anymore. It can't. It's just hard to do. I can't be good at publishing, researching, educating on a full time basis AND be proficient at the bedside AND be up on all the current literature AND....

    do you see where I'm going with this?
    It just plain sucks.