I moved to Spokane from Southern California in 1989 to marry someone in the Air force and was stationed at Fairchild AFB. I have never regretted anything more in my life.
Salaries here in Spokane are conveniently depressed for employers who still envisage a 1960's Spokane. I was making $30.00 an hour when I left including a specialty certification. Salaries in North Idaho are worse.
We are unfortunately unionized wiuth the Washington State Nurses's Association ("W" standing for worthless"!!) who does absolutely nothing! In the face of a crushing nurses shortage, the nurse haven't gotten an appreciable raise in the 12 years that I worked there. Benefits are OK, but could be ALOT better.
The biggest problem with WSNA are the two nurses who are the "Co- Chairs" of he local unit here in Spokane. Neither are married, have children, and have nothing to do with their money but put it in the bank. They are oblivious to the real needs of the nursing staff, and put their own needs and concerns ahead of the needs of the rest of the staff that they are supposed to be representing.They are more concerned about making the hospital CEO's & administrators happy than getting the nurses higher pay, better benefits, and better workplace advocacy. As it stands now, advocacy & support are virtually non- existent.
The contract expires December 31 & WSNA have not even sent out a survey to ask the members what they want.
ICU nurses are routinely outvoted by the floor nurses when it comes to workplace issues that pertain ICU are we are routinley outvoted.
The nurse manager of the ICU has once again over- hired and the nurses are floating every week, sometimes twice a week. This allows the hospital to have a bulit in ICU "float pool" to send all over the hospital. Now, they only float within the "float groups" and take patient care assignments, that keep nurses within their area of expertise. Otherwise you are floated as "functional only", meaning that you only work as a helper and are not given a patient care assignment to be responsible for.
The staffing in the ICU's is now plush while the floors are hurting badly. My guess is that with the next contract the nurses will vote to eliminate the float groups and make the ICU nurses take assignments all over the hospital. Certain units in the hospital are "closed units", meaning that the staff does not float- ER, OR, PACU, etc. The WSNA reps have faught to prevent the ICU's from becoming closed units. My educated guess is that the issue of closed units will be eliminated & the ICU's will become the "hospital float pool".
The other large hospital in town, Deaconess, owned by Empire Health, which was the only large hospital in Washington that was not unionzed, was just given a 9% pay cut, (except the departments that were unionized)- there was a thread here a couple of months ago concerning this issue. The tech's, LPN's, nurses aides, etc, all voted to unionize with 1199 SEIU at Deaconess and at Valley Hospital. The nurses had been talking to 1199 SEIU, and pushed through a union vote after all this (the other Empire Health hospital, Valley Hospital, voted to unionize). Believe it or not, the nurses at Deaconess rejected the union!! The hospital launced a nasty anti union campaign that the nurses bought hook, line and sinker! They now have to wait another year to have another union vote. In the meantime, the hospital has also increased the costs of benefits so that 9% pay cut is really much higher. What can I say? To quote Forrest Gump, "Stupid is as Stupid does" Nurses get exactly what they ask for.
I left SAcred Heart 2 years ago for personal issues, & will never go back to bedside nursing. I had started a Medical Legal consulting business about 8 years ago, and my husband just retired from the Air Force and got another full time benefitted job, so I really don't have to work. I am very lucky, believe me.
I am just going with my business and that is enough for me.
All I can say is, you would be musch better off skipping Spokane, Post Falls, or Coeur D' Alene, and going to Seattle, Tacoma, Olympia, or Portland Oregon. The pay the is significantly higher than Eastern Washington & Idaho with better benefits, perk, and working conditions. They also demand more money and benefits. The nurses in Spokane still say, "well, I make enough! I'm happy! That is with nurses topping out at about $35.00 an hour. The overall job market here is very depressed and there are not alot of careers here. Industry has passed up Spokane, or has found other places to open businesses. We have lost many companies who have gone to Seattle, Boise, Salt Lake City, etc.
There are also three schools of nursing here- Spokane Comunity College (ADN, & LPN), the Intercollegiate Center for Nursing Education (ICNE)- BSN, and Gonzaga University- BSN. The public does not see the new grads who leave for greener pastures & move to other areas on the coast that I mentioned, or the aging work force. Or the nurses who go back to school to get graduate degrees, or go to Law School at Gonzaga University. We can not keep new, young nurses. They are gone in a couple of years. The public is in La La land.
Also, I might add, nurses get absolutely no respect in Spokane & Idaho. Regardless of how many college degrees you have, if you are a nurse you are nothing but blue collar "hired help".
I hope that I have answered your questions. I'm sorry that this is so long abd probably not what you wanted to here. Good luck with you decision.
Linda, RN, BSN, CCRN