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Is it appropriate to ask for a raise in new department?


I've been on my Med/Surg floor for 7 months now, and a nurse for 9 months. I figured out pretty quickly that Med/Surg isn't for me. It's not that I hate my job, because I don't, I just know I want something different.

Recently a NICU job opened up at my facility, and I decided to apply for it. As I was lying in bed last night thinking about the opportunity (because that's when I do all my good thinking), I realized that the position opening didn't specify if it was a day or night position. I currently work nights, which I love and the differentials are pretty good. If the position turns out to be days, would it be appropriate for a newer nurse like me to ask for a raise to make up for part of the differentials I'll be losing? I wouldn't be asking to make up all the differentials, maybe just $2/hr more than my base pay.

What do you all think?

JustBeachyNurse, RN

Specializes in Complex pediatrics turned LTC/subacute geriatrics. Has 11 years experience.

You can ask but its highly unlikely that you will be successful as a neophyte nurse with no relevant NICU experience. It's unlikely that they would offer you the differential only paid to night nurses for a day shift job as an inexperienced nurse that will require extensive training and orientation for a highly specialized unit. It may even cause you to be passed over for the position for another nurse willing to accept the pay as offered. Something to consider.

Inexperienced nurses have very little negotiation room, especially if a high demand unit or an area with excessive new grad, inexperienced and experienced nurses with many nurses applying for a single posting.

Make sure you are eligible to transfer with only 7 months experience. Some facilities require new grad hires to wait 12 months before they will be considered for a transfer to another unit, especially from a general to a specialized unit.

INN_777, BSN, RN

Specializes in Oncology, Medicine. Has 6 years experience.

20 years in business (my prior career) have taught me to always ask (within reason of course). What is the worst that can happen? They will say no. But usually people will try to accommodate at least partially and maybe even fully. I think you have a good case. Good luck!

TheCommuter, BSN, RN

Specializes in Case mgmt., rehab, (CRRN), LTC & psych. Has 15 years experience.

What do you all think?
Although it cannot hurt to ask, I think you will not find a nurse manager who will be receptive to granting a pay increase for several reasons.

1. You are a newer nurse. You have no chips upon which to bargain when attempting to negotiate a higher rate of pay at this point in your nascent career.

2. It is common knowledge that lower pay comes with the territory of day shift positions. Night shift workers receive higher shift differentials because we work unsociable hours that often cause us to die earlier. Hence, we're compensated more for the inconvenience to our lives. We're also paid more because night shift nurses are harder to find. Dissimilarly, day shift workers are expected to willingly accept lower pay in exchange for working more sociable hours that are more conducive to normal life.

3. NICU is a coveted specialty. There are thousands of newer nurses who would willingly accept a NICU job for crappy pay just for the chance to break into that specialty. You will look special snowflakish by asking for a pay increase when you have no appreciable NICU experience that would benefit the hospital.

Good luck to you!

llg, PhD, RN

Specializes in Nursing Professional Development. Has 44 years experience.

Your employer would be extremely foolish to give you a raise. Think about it: if they gave every staff nurse raises every time they switched units, the whole staff would want to transfer every year!

In addition ... you probably spent the first several weeks on your current unit in "new grad orientation" -- with a preceptor, not taking a full assignment by yourself, etc. You have probably now reached the point of competence in med/surg and able to "carry your own weight." When you transfer to NICU, you will go back into orientation with a preceptor, probably for 3 or 4 months, not taking your own assignment. Unless there is an ICU differential because they are having extra trouble finding nurses to work there, there would be no reason to pay you more while on orientation. You have no experience in NICU and you will start there as a total beginner.

It is OK to ask if there is an ICU differential or something that will improve your pay a little ... but beyond that, I doubt you will find much if any room to negotiate. It really wouldn't be right for them to pay you more at this time.

Well, that was my assumption, but I thought I'd run it by all of you. I agree that it never hurts to ask, but it was a "what if" scenario anyway. Thanks guys!

JustBeachyNurse, RN

Specializes in Complex pediatrics turned LTC/subacute geriatrics. Has 11 years experience.

Better to think it out here then to ask to negotiate and end up negotiating yourself right out of a job opportunity!

As a new grad, I am interested to know how this turns out. I would wait til they make an offer then ask for more money though. That way you aren't passed over for the job because you requested a raise.

HouTx, BSN, MSN, EdD

Specializes in Critical Care, Education. Has 35 years experience.

Hospitals have tight compensation structures with rigid rules that specify exactly how to establish a salary based upon "compensable factors". The rules spell out things like how/if past LPN experience can be counted for an RN, how much additional pay is associated with higher educational achievement or specialty certification, and of course... how much more pay is associated with each year of relevant experience & how relevance is determined.

This structure is absolutely necessary to avoid discrimination claims - employers MUST pay the same salary for the same job performed by people with similar qualifications. The structure has to be enforced or discriminatory practices can creep in due to preferential treatment.

Nope, not good news for anyone who aims to 'negotiate' a higher salary but it's not all that bleak. If you have mad skills in a 'hard to find' clinical specialty, this can justify some significant inducements without breaking the Federal rules. So - if you move away from the heard and aim high, you'll need to acquire skills & credentials that are in high demand.

Does the hospital have a clinical ladder program? That would be a much more likely way for you to get a raise, after one year (regardless of department) you are eligible for a raise if you do a few other things like participate in a committee or have so many ceu's. I would look into that rather than ask for a raise out the gate (at least that's how it works at my hospital). Good luck, and just an FYI, many nurses willingly take a pay cut to get into the specialty they desire, and it's totally worth it. Money is not everything, especially in nursing!

Yes, of course ask. I'm thinking you are a female, a male would ask and most likely be given the money! And don't apologize for asking.