How do I go about re-negotiating my pay as a staff nurse?

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by deadmanonhigh deadmanonhigh, BSN (New) New

Specializes in Operating room. Has 3 years experience.


I'm currently an operating room nurse at a level 1 trauma center. I have about three years of experience, most of which was at a different hospital - started here last Winter. I signed a bonus agreement to stay for at least two years - but I actually really like this place, and I'd like to stay longer. 

I am doing all sorts of professional advancement type stuff - I just got my certification for my specialty (CNOR) and I'm working on the hospital's nursing clinical ladder. I am a hard worker, and a smart worker - I move things along, and keep the day rolling. I can circulate for any of the service lines we have, for any and all kinds of cases. I like what I do - and I have good rapport with the surgeons too. 

Basically - when I hit that two year mark (which isn't for a while, but I'd like to have a plan ready to go) and get the last bit of my bonus, I'd like to negotiate for better pay to stay - otherwise, I'll find somewhere else playing better. I like where I work, but if I'm not continually getting paid better and better, I don't feel compensated.

The best way I can come up with is to email my manager something along the lines of the following:


Good afternoon <insert name here>,

something something friendly greeting, mention something that happened earlier and my appreciation for it blah blah

I was hoping to get a time on the books to talk with you about re-negotiating my current rate of compensation. Do you have any time available this week? 


Name lastname


Presuming they don't just tell me no, there's no negotiation to be had, I'll meet with them. 

And then, when I meet with them, say something along the lines of the following:


Thank you for meeting with me - I know you're busy, and I appreciate that you've taken the time to sit down with me about this.

So - I've been at <hospital name> for two years, and I've thoroughly enjoyed my time here thus far. I've continually worked on improving my skills as both a circulating and scrub nurse, and outside of direct patient care as staff I've been going the extra mile - something I'll continue to do as long as I'm here. I've the chair of the <name of committee> for the past year, and in that role I excelled. I have completed multiple process improvement projects. I got my certification as soon as I could, and I ascended the clinical ladder not long after. I have taken steps whenever possible to make what quality improvements I can, where I can. I've become someone that other members of the staff feel comfortable coming to for help. 

With all that said, I'd be doing myself a disservice by not negotiating for a marked increase in pay. Like any other nurse, I deserve to be compensated fairly for the work I put in, and I have continually gone above and beyond what has been asked of me, out of passion for my patients, for my profession, and for the unit as a whole. It's just unfortunate that passion doesn't pay the bills. 

I currently make X an hour, and I would like to have that bumped up to X+Y. 


The problem with this whole imaginary encounter is that I don't quite understand the deal with compensation ranges. Should I be asking what the compensation range is for my position, and then asking for the maximum? Or am I negotiating on an individual basis that doesn't care about compensation ranges? 

I also don't know if this is exactly how the negotiation process would go - like, do I actually have a sit down chat like this? Or do I have to get referred to HR, because my manager can't actually make any quotes or promises? Like, do I just make a case, and ask to speak to HR, or?

I also don't really know how much I should ask for - I currently make $42 an hour, and I'd like to be at $50 flat at least. 

What's the best way to approach this? Any advice?

hppygr8ful, ASN, RN, EMT-I

Specializes in Psych, Addictions, SOL (Student of Life). Has 20 years experience. 4 Articles; 4,516 Posts

What is the average rate of pay for your position In the area where you reside and how does that rate work for people as to the average cost of living. You can always ask for more money and they can always say no. The question becomes, What are you prepared to do if they say no. When I asked for something very similar and when they said no -I did not try to argue or convince. I simply stood up, thanked the manager for their time and thanked them for the fantastic experience I had working there. I gave 1 months notice calmly exited the office. 

I found another job that also allowed me to work through my notice and  got significanly more money.  


Edited by hppygr8ful
Still trying to type with one eye



Has 8 years experience. 430 Posts

Ooooh Hppy! I loved that!

OP- I like your something somethings and your blah blahs..

I would def find out what the average rate is and then ask for more than what you want to leave room for negotiations.

Also with the current nursing crisis this is the perfect time to ask for what you want given all the reasons you outlined above.  🥂

kbrn2002, ADN, RN

Specializes in Geriatrics, Dialysis. Has 20 years experience. 3,616 Posts

I'm assuming since you are in a position where you can negotiate your own compensation that you don't work in a union hospital.  When the time comes to negotiate first address your manager, that person probably doesn't have the ability to actually approve a wage change but that is the correct person to get the process started.  Do some market research before negotiating for a raise to make sure what you asking for is in line with what other employer's are paying.  An almost 20% bump in pay is likely unattainable unless your employer is paying considerably under market rates.  Honestly I doubt you'll get that without an offer in hand from a competitor that matches your ask. Won't hurt though to ask high even without another offer as it leaves room to negotiate.

As much as you like the job be prepared to walk away if you use the the threat of another offer as a negotiating tactic.   When I left my previous employer of 25 years I had another offer firmly in hand and used that offer to give my then employer the opportunity to raise my wage at or above that offer to keep me.  They were unable to meet my wage demand, so I walked. Best decision I ever made.

Queen Tiye, RN

228 Posts

You are certainly smart, well-spoken, know your self-worth, and represent yourself eloquently.  I support you asking for an increase.   1) you can ask a mentor nurse or two what the minimum for your experience is and then work from there 2) HR should be able to provide the pay scale 3) Google rates in your city and shoot high and they will likely come down to what you actually hope for.  Also, consider how you will feel continuing on there should your proposal be rejected.  Good Luck! 


6,256 Posts

Congrats on working hard and finding fulfillment in your work.

This is a great topic about something that needs to become a lot more common in both discussion and practice.

I think realistically you need to be well prepared for the tactics commonly used with nurses; things like simply being told that the pay is not negotiable or that the ladder already has a non-negotiable wage associated with each step, or that everyone is only getting "x" measly raise across the board, or that your area isn't approved for any raises for staff this year or....any and every other variation of "no."

They have years, decades of just saying no without consequence. They also seem practiced at purposely NOT relying on or "needing" any strong professional nurse such as yourself and will go out of their way to prove they don't.

I think your approach is respectful and professional and inherently expects that someone is going to engage your negotiation. All good things. Be careful about using too many words; it just gives people more things to disagree on or pick apart.

You should have another offer in hand, as others have mentioned above, be prepared to turn in your resignation within the coming days/weeks if they indicate that they don't care about keeping your services.

Good luck!!