America's Staff Nurses Cite Higher Pay, Improved Staffing as Top Solutions to Shortag

    January 16, 2003

    United American Nurses, AFL-CIO (UAN)

    America's Staff Nurses Cite Higher Pay, Improved Staffing as Top Solutions to Shortage, According to UAN National Survey

    UAN survey released today reveals staff RNs' solutions to the nurse staffing shortage

    Washington, DC -- The solution to the bedside nurse staffing shortage - which could balloon as high as 800,000 to one million in coming years - lies in paying nurses more and decreasing the number of patients each nurse must care for, said a majority of staff RNs polled in a national sample survey released today by the United American Nurses, AFL-CIO (UAN).

    UAN, the labor arm of the American Nurses Association, is the nation's largest RN union, representing 100,000 nurses nationwide. The national poll of 600 hospital staff nurses providing direct nursing care was conducted via telephone from November 4-11, 2002 by Lake Snell Perry & Associates.

    Fully 82 percent of those surveyed responded that increased pay was a top solution to the nurse staffing shortage; 85 percent responded that a reduced nurse/patient ratio would improve the shortage. Other highly rated solutions include greater autonomy and control for staff nurses (66 percent) and safer working conditions (65 percent).

    Nurses offered these solutions in the face of a nurse staffing crisis that is widely predicted to worsen soon. Eight out of 10 survey respondents feel there is a serious shortage in their hospital, and 3 out of 10 respondents said it's unlikely they will be a hospital staff nurse in five years.

    "When nurse staffing isn't up to safe levels, our patients are at risk and they're not getting full value for their money," said UAN President Cheryl Johnson, RN. "In this poll, nurses have given us their professional assessment that the nursing shortage is the biggest problem in hospitals today. More to the point, they've told us what it will take to cure it."

    Currently, the American Hospital Association reports that 126,000 RN positions are going unfilled. According to the Health Resources and Services Administration, there could be a deficit of 808,000 nurses by 2020; Bureau of Labor Statistics data suggest that this estimate could go as high as one million nurses by 2010. Direct links have been made between adequate nursing care in hospitals and better patient outcomes.

    Survey respondents cited work-related stress, patient load and inadequate pay as the top three reasons nurses leave the profession. A majority of nurses (54/53 percent - split sample) feels their hospitals are doing only a fair to poor job attracting and retaining nurses.

    "Hospitals could change all of those things. Most haven't even tried," added Johnson. "Instead, they've tried to cure the nursing shortage with Band-Aids, bromides and placebos. Radical change is the only effective treatment."

    Discrepancy between the problem and solution identified by respondents was particularly stark in the area of nurse wages. Six out of 10 nurses surveyed make less than $46,000 a year - and 55 percent of staff nurses with more than 10 years of experience make less than $46,000. Two-thirds of those polled feel they make less money than the demands of their job warrant. Of those who feel they make a lot less, a third believe their appropriate salary is $70,000 or more.

    "Staff nurses are essential in patient care and survival, and staff nurses are still underpaid and undervalued," said UAN Director Susan Bianchi-Sand. "Health care organizations like the American Hospital Association and Joint Commission on Accreditation of Health Care Organizations have conducted studies, issued reports and made recommendations about how to fix the nursing shortage, but NURSES' solutions must now be heard."

    "The results of this poll are a wake-up call to our nation's hospitals," stated Johnson. "Nurses have now said what it will take to keep more of us at the bedside. The question for hospital administrators is whether or not they will implement these solutions. I believe patients around this country - all of whom deserve to be well-cared for by a registered nurse - should expect as much."

    Please note: Poll results are available at

    direct comments and questions to:
    Suzanne Martin

    # # #

    The United American Nurses, AFL-CIO, the labor arm of the American Nurses Association, is the nation's largest RN union, run for Rns and by Rns, representing 100,000 nurses, the UAN consits of state nurses associations or collective bargaining programs from 24 states, the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

    Last edit by -jt on Jan 25, '03
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    About -jt

    Joined: Oct '00; Posts: 2,662; Likes: 46


  3. by   sjoe
    Well, that would be a start. Competent management should also be high on the list, since that seems to be lacking in most cases as well.
  4. by   teeituptom
    howdy ya'll
    from deep in the heart of texas

    Hell, 70,000 dollars. I would die of my pay dropped that low

    doo wah ditty
  5. by   2banurse
    Teeituptom, I would not complain if I were you. Since I would guesstimate that the majority of this BB's participation make much less.

  6. by   teeituptom
    you are more than likely right. But I get what I work for.

    doo wah ditty
  7. by   2banurse
    Tom, I'm sure its true and I'm not saying that you don't. My feeling is that there are many, many nurses are working hard and NOT getting what they deserve in the sense of compensation. The $70,000 should be the low end of what nurses should be receiving, not putting a ceiling to nurses' pay.

  8. by   oramar
    I saw this article somewhere recently and was pleased. This month my husbands union newsletter devoted a large amount of space to health care concerns and specifically to the nurse shortage. That is a first.
  9. by   Sleepyeyes
  10. by   pickledpepperRN
    Originally posted by teeituptom
    you are more than likely right. But I get what I work for.

    doo wah ditty
    You save lives and are worth every cent.
    Many others save lives too. For le$$.
    Many volunteer. Bone marrow and blood are priceless. Those who give their time and self are worth too much to put a price on.
    The nurse, teacher, paramedic, EMT, firefighter, or police officer often gets paid less than some money- manager who causes suffering.
    Not always a correlation.
    I made a choice to work in a hospital that respected nurses work and acted when we said we needed more staff. The pay was less. Rewards much more. Of course my expenses were low too.

    "Thank you nurse" is the best pay there is as long as the necessities are paid for too.
    Just my thinking.
    Enjoy your golf. Make a birdie for me!
  11. by   Hellllllo Nurse
    Teeitup Tom,
    I'm an RN in The Texas Panhandle RN wages here run$14.00- $22.00 an hour. When I was a full time nursing supervisor at a nursing home (last fall) I made $22./ hr but NO BENEFITS!

    Where the heck do you work and what do you do?
  12. by   KaroSnowQueen
    IF I made seventy grand I'd think I'd died and gone to heaven.
  13. by   -jt
    My straight salary was over $80,000 last year WITHOUT having to resort to crossing other nurses strike lines for scab pay. Starting salary for a brand new ADN grad in hospitals where the nurses are represented by my union is about $60,000 now. We've had decades of negotiating decent base wages, pay for education, experience, shift differentials in this city (my salary is for 19 yrs ADN - day shift only - eves & nights is $5000 higher). Higher still with specialty certifications, charge pay, and BA/BS/BSN/MA/MS/MSN/ or phD degrees. Our salary is not a problem but we still have places that have "shortages" at the bedside because there are still some places where they cant pay people enough to work in the environment they "offer" - like forced OT, high pt loads, lack of support personnel & equipment, disrespectful and abusive attitudes towards nurses. And they wonder why they are paying so much & nurses still wont work for them.