career change and questions about nursing

  1. hello everyone! i was hoping that y'all could answer some of my nursing questions.

    i currently hold a degree in economics, but was looking to switch careers and maybe pursue nursing. i always had an interest in nursing, but as a young adult got pushed into another career. with that said, i am a little confused on how nurses get paid. from reading the posts, everyone talks about hourly wages, however, they seem to change drastically based on your location. i am aware that certain places have higher costs of living, but i have seen some MAJOR wage differences. thus, i was wondering if there is a concensus on how much the average nurse makes and what that would be. 40,000, 50,000, 60,000? also, do nurses get raises as they aquire more experience or different certifications? for example, would an emergency room nurse make more than another type of nurse?

    also, the looming possiblity of universal healthcare is very scary. with a backround in economics, i am fully aware of the negative effects such a system has. with that said, how much of a pay cut do you think nurses are going to take if universal healthcare gets in?

    thanks,
    hushpup
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    About hushpupgrl

    Joined: Feb '07; Posts: 78; Likes: 5

    8 Comments

  3. by   CHATSDALE
    there is a wide range in nurses pay

    it varies according to the part of the country
    skills
    department that is worked ie icu, stepdown units pay is often tied to the amount of stress [combat pay so to speak]

    as with most of the other professions you are worth more with the more experience and/or specialized training that you have a nurse with several years experience can go in and negotiate a good deal with the hr

    the range that you mentioned are a good range from a newbie to someone with a proven track record

    as for the future that is difficult to forecast..if you are working for the government yo may have a set salary and a lot of job security

    hopethat yo choose to join
  4. by   hushpupgrl
    thanks for the advice! i guess my main question has to deal with career advancement in nursing. will a nurse make more money as their experience within the field increases? also, do nurses within different fields make more or less than other nursing fields? i have read some posts where people have said they have worked 10 years and still make the same as a new graduate

    sorry for so many questions. i don't know anyone in nursing and after working in the corporate world, i'm only used to that environment.

    thanks for the info,
    hushpup
  5. by   RunningWithScissors
    Your "years of experience" makes you earn more; for example HR has a scale say, for 1-3 years, X$$ and for 3-5 years, 50 cents an hour more, etc.

    No matter how many years you have under your belt, though, you will almost always be hired in the middle of the pack (explanation being, "we can't hire you in making more than Sally who's been here 10 years").

    Except in rare facilities, you get paid the same whether you work ER or ICU or med/surg. A nurse is a nurse to HR. Some places pay more for certification (I get 75 cents an hour, but mine is the only hospital out of 5 in the area that pay anything for it.)

    Hope this helps and good luck.
  6. by   RN4NICU
    Quote from hushpupgrl

    also, the looming possiblity of universal healthcare is very scary. with a backround in economics, i am fully aware of the negative effects such a system has. with that said, how much of a pay cut do you think nurses are going to take if universal healthcare gets in?

    thanks,
    hushpup
    I feel that universal health care is a disaster waiting to happen, but I don't think nurses are going to take a pay cut. See the "would you be an RN for $11/hr" thread. The majority of us feel underpaid the way it is. If RN pay rates declined, I would leave nursing, simple as that. And I would not be alone - far from it.
  7. by   Jean1313
    Hi-

    I am a (relatively) new nurse. I spent my first year as a psych RN, which I loved and felt that I was good at. I was told that I should get some med-surg experience, so I left my psych job after a year and 2 months. I currently am on orientation in med-surg, but have become very stressed out over this job already. I feel that I have to drag myself in every shift. I'm not sleeping much, and I sometimes cry when I'm by myself because of the frustration. I don't find this work interesting or enjoyable.

    My questions for the more experienced nurses:

    How important is "the med-surg experience"?

    I always felt in school that the floors were overwhelming, but I have interests other than psych (i.e. OR, OB) and I'm afraid that if I don't do med-surg, I won't have any other options other than psych.... Do you think that is accurate?

    How long do I have to stay to make it "count"?

    A year? 6 months?

    Thanks for any advice that you can give. I am a hard worker, and was a relatively good student. I don't want to have to give up options other than psych, but I just don't know how how much more I can take.
  8. by   swsh10
    I started out as a med-surg nurse in a small community hospital (you did everything and as an RN were responsible for the LVNs too). It was a lot to take on but I had to honor my 2 yr contract (I'm a foreign nurse grad from the phil). Afterwards, I moved to Dallas and got a float nurse positon in a 900 bed hosp. Med-Surg nursing isn't easy, but it was good training experience for me; helped me multitask and set priorities. I have personally worked with nurses who went straight to ICU and OR after grad, then tried med-surg and couldn't handle it. Just do whatever makes you happy; if you're happy at your job, it makes it easier for you and it will show in the quality of your work. I've worked 2 years part time at a State Psych Hosp and met nurses who've started out as techs,then went to LVN, then RN, then got their masters and never left the place or intended to. One advantage you have is choice, you don't have a contract to fulfill like I did.
  9. by   Jean1313
    Thanks swsh10, I really appreciate the advice.

    I *do* have a bit of a contract situation going on... I owe the 16 hospital system I work for 2 years straight of full-time service. I AM almost to a year and a half, but they like you to stay in each position for at least 6 months before transferring.

    I guess they might let me out of it if it isn't a good fit... Do you know any nurses that just stayed in a position a few months? 6 months?

    And congrats to you for coming to this country and tackling this crazy healthcare system!
  10. by   swsh10
    Hopefully, you work with a lot of supportive people that would make your med-surg experience better. Six months may pass by quickly, but if you are absolutely miserable, maybe you could talk it over your nurse manager or someone in charge to see if they could find a better fit for you. You may be just adjusting to the routine too. Med surg is very high stress esp with all the co-morbidities popping up that make it more complicated ( a reason why turnover in this area is so high). Just make sure you ask a lot of questions or look up resources if you are unsure about something (like meds, for example). I honestly am not sure if I would have chosen to do medsurg for a number of years if I didn't have a contract - I'd have problems with immigration bec of the working visa that was tied in (you don't have that same problem; but still might be considered a work ethic issue). You have to first take care of You; don't let anyone put you in a situation where your license or your health can be compromised. Good luck and I wish you the best.

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