Pay check as the measure of gratification in nursing

Nurses Career Support


To be honest this bb is almost always uniformly depressing to visit because people come here on their down days, weeks, months, life-times to air grievances.

How much is enough money in nursing?

I hear all of the time that we aren't paid enough, so how much is enough?

If I rate my job for financial satisfaction (substance abuse prevention in a school), rating is about a 2 on a 1-5 scale. I could be making more money. In truth, I haven't had such a poor earning capacity since I was less than 5 years out of school--I'm out 23 years this June. But I am happy. The work is meaningful. I'm getting a wonderful opportunity to help kids 1:1. I'm home most evenings (probably 5 out of 6 weeks I'm home every night of the week) with my kid. Holidays are spent with my family, not the dear, dear people I worked with in the hospital/units but had no blood kinship with (and I really do miss them, but not enough to go back...). I work in a school setting, where the main thrust is education, so my programs and what I do is always secondary to the ed mission. I'm pretty low status (though respected more and more every day--having only been in the job 1 1/2 years). Value placed on job satisfaction=4/5

Value placed on job that allows me to meet my goals in my primary role of mom=4/5

(Nuttin's perfect)

Do I worry that if my dear, beloved husband crumped tomorrow that I would have to get a "real job"? Yup, I do, but I'd be inclined to try to make it in this job so that I could be available to my kid since we'd need each other more than ever. (we have done some financial planning against this possibility.)

Bottom line: Nursing tries to attract men to nursing. Women who must do full time nursing to support their families face the same issues. How can I make the most money in nursing? That would be the hospital. You don't have to be a genius to see that some really good people are being eaten alive by their hospital jobs according to postings on this and other BB's.

I have always been happiest in nursing when I wasn't busting my chops to make a lot of money (and this includes working in the hospital times in my career). Learn to live on less. Yes, I mean you. Avoid making unit staffing your personal problem. Get caller ID or an answering machine and do not answer the phone on your day off unless you want to talk to those folks. Learn to say, "No I cannot come in extra." Get a life outside of nursing. Do not expect that nursing should be your sole source of love, gratification, acceptance, friendship and FULFILLMENT in life. Nursing makes a poor lover. Do not measure happiness, fulfillment, personal self-worth by dollars: IT NEVER WORKS.

And to those of you who say, "This kind of poo-poo has kept and will keep nurses poor for a long time." Probably true. I don't think theres a lot more money to be had in health care to juice nursing salaries up much more. I don't think the market will bear it. That's my opinion. Even in poorly staffed hospitals, it takes a lot of professional nurses to make it run. The service we provide is labor intensive, so we are not going to be at the top of a pay pyramid, like a CEO or COO or CFO is (of which you only need a couple.) I think health care is a house of cards that is wobbling, but to those of you that want to keep batting your head against this particular wall, be my guest.

Some of you might want to try to re-frame your thinking using some of my ideas or perhaps the ideas of other posters and get a little happier.

I am hoping to hear from those of you who substantially disagree with me BUT please would those of you who have re-framed your expectations of what you get out of nursing AROUND SOMETHING OTHER THAN MONEY please post.

Hope this gives another perspective on this issue.


131 Posts

Thank You MolyJ,

I have been trying to think of a way to respond to all the negativity and you took the words right out of my mouth.

I don't mean to sound like I am holier than anyone else, but I did not go into nursing for the bucks.

I was a CNA ans saw what the nurses were doing and I knew if I had the right piece of paper I could do that, because I have arthritis and I knew that I could not continue as a CNA for the rest of my life.

But I wanted to help people.

I am now an ADON in LTC I feel my pay is very good ($22.00) but that is not what keeps me with this company. I have been offerred more by headhunters. It is the team that I work with that makes it easy to come in and work 50 hour weeks when I get paid for 40. My husband who is retired teases me that if I figured out my wage, my nurses are making more that I do.

It is the peace of mind I have when I go home. It is the fun I have with my management team at after hour get togethers.

It is even more importantly the repsonses I get from the residents on my unit, and the family members.

I would like to say that those of you who went into nursing for the money, are in the wrong field.

For those of you who complain about what you are making, have you checked what other people in your area are making? I know that my sister and her husband together are just making what I make alone. They do not think that they are doing so bad.

I think it is time some of you complainers stop saying "Poor Me", I do not feel sorry for you. If you don't like nursing go back to school and get another degree, or just find another job.

Nursing needs good people, we do not need whiners.

Thank you, MollyJ for opening this

NA smile.gif


1,301 Posts


The amount on my paycheck is important to me. However, it is not what I pursued a career in nursing for. I went into nursing to help make someone else's life a little easier or brighter. Even though I have experienced many trials and tribulations as a nurse, I don't regret going into nursing. I still enjoy certain aspects of my practice and have the respect of people I work with, my family, and others in my community. Nursing is still a respectable and respected profession. It can be difficult to live much beyond modest means for nurses-particularly those that work in LTC. The good thing about nursing though is that it is so diverse. There are so many areas a nurse can work. Other professions are following our lead and marketing themselves accordingly. I think that when low pay, gratification, and work requirements in such unionized occupations as law enforcement and education are considered, nurses probably don't have much of a good leg to stand on with regards to demanding higher wages.


5 Posts


I agree with a lot of the things that you had to say. I do not think that anyone became a nurse to become rich (or atleast I would hope not). However, as being a new nurse, I find it very depressing to see co-workers who have been nurses 20+ years working 40+ hrs/wk and still living paycheck to paycheck. Do nurses ever retire or do they work until they become so burnt out and bitter until they can no longer stand to be in a clinical/hospital setting?

Don't get me wrong, I LOVE MY PROFESSION! A career in nursing is honorable and can be very fulfilling (if you find a setting that fits your needs/personality). I just wish that I could have experienced what a nurse truly has to go through before I spent 5 years in school. I have yet to find a nurse who is happy with their current position and salary. (Not either/or). And this is what scares me.

I know that your ATTITUDE determines your ALTITUDE. So, for the time being, I have no other choice except to be happy. But when all is said and done, I have to be "REAL"...

Believe me, after 5 years of school, I was not expecting a career in nursing to be easy.

But I was expecting to LOVE my job. Besides, I became a nurse because I loved working with people and felt that I could be a benefit to the patients and the body of nursing as a whole. Now I find that it's very hard to nurse... I run around a lot and try to do the best I can as fast as I can...but I don't qualify that as nursing.

In all honesty, if someone would have told me that after 5 years of school I would be over worked, under paid, and verbally abused

I would have probably chosen another field. (Again, this is just my opinion) But no one tells you about the "realities" of nursing as a student because if they did, there would be an even greater nursing shortage.

In closing, I thank you for your topic. It is good to hear from a nurse that finds their current position fulfilling. But I ask you to respond back and tell me what would have to be done in order for you to give your current position a higher rating. (I think you rated it a 2 on a scale of 1-5). Also, I would like to hear from other nurses that are happy with their POSITIONs AND SALARIES.



5 Posts

Hi! I will probably get razzed about this, but I am an MDS Coordinator at a LTC facility and I am very happy with my position and my pay. (I make 19.00 an hour, if I need to fill in on the floor, I make overtime 28.50). I am paid salary for MDS, but overtime on the floor. I have been a staff nurse in a hospital, staff nurse in an MR/DD facility (I stayed there for the residents, they grab your heart and run, but I made peanuts), but for me, I like LTC, it has the greatest job satisfaction. I feel like I make a difference.

The position that I am in now allows me weekends with my family and flexible hours. Since I basically make my own hours, if my kids have something going on before, after, or during school, its no big deal because I can go. BTW, I feel like I make excellent money. If I made $30.00/hr, I would just find something else to spend it on and still wouldn't be rich wink.gif.

Happy Nursing!! If you can't do it with a smile, don't do it!!!!!!!


7 Posts

I may be in a minority but I love my job, my hours and get great pay.

I'm a homecare nurse. I get paid by the visit and my general hours are 2p-7p but I never am out that long and I see 2-6 ( usually 3-4)pt a day. my productivity is 19visit/week. I usually do 20-22v/wk.

I have the best of both worlds I absolutely love my work and I feel I make amazing $. I have flexiblity within certian limits but the scheduler is very good to me because I'm very good to her.


MollyJ and others:

Great topic!I agree w/ some of your comments. I too, feel that there is an abundance of negativity on this BB. I believe that this stems from so many of us feeling frustrated and dissatified.I can't imagine any fool would do what nurses do just for the money. (Ha ha. That's a laugh!!!)We do it because we love to help, to learn, and to teach, etc.

We can agree that money is important to some extent.Who will deny that? We all have bills to pay. No matter your profession- we all want a "fair" wage (a livable wage).

However, the current nursing situation across the U.S. goes beyond simple pay inadequacies. As was already mentioned, understaffing is a major concern. Not only is patient safety compromised but nurses have been routinely giving up so called "luxuries" such as bathroom breaks and meal breaks. Nurses are routinely working overtime and not recording it on their timecards. It infuriates me that this is uniformely accepted and supported! In no other profession would this behavior be tolerated.

In my first nursing job, I was told by my preceptor RN, "We don't take lunch breaks here because it's too busy and we want to get out on time." Oh really? So that means work 8-12 hours w/o a break and make complex decisions regarding people's health every shift! (Hmmm. Sounds a bit codependant and idiotic to me! Gee- if there's too much work why not hire more staff?!!! What a concept!)I have seriously thought about taking my own chemstick on some shifts- after not eating for 7+ hours straight!I wonder what your blood sugar is when you are making that one crucial decision...

Nancy1- I am glad to hear that enjoy your job.That is truly a blessing.However, your comment about how it is easy for you come in and work "50 hours a week and get paid for 40," greatly disturbs me. That attitude is a big part of our problem! You have summed up the problem w/ short staffing in a nutshell- we work an extra 10 hours (volunteer time) and act as if we did 50 hours of work in 40 hours.(No wonder we don't get any extra staff...we don't seem to need it!) Here's a thought: if our employers hired adequate staff, we wouldn't have to work 40 hours a month of volunteer overtime on the job!

I realise that I may sound harsh- but I refuse to "settle for less" just because that's the way it is! ***Baloney!***

Yes- I love nursing, yes, I work hard, and yes, I am willing to make sacrafices... but we nurses as a whole gripe on this board because we are taken advantage of.Let's look carefully at what we say and do to foster the negative self sacrificing attitudes that perpetuate our unhappy circumstance.

I am working in an acute care setting now in which I can adequately provide safe care to my patients.My pay is fair. I enjoy my coworkers.I get a lunch break most every day. I can use the restroom if the urge strikes.I run my *&^% off each day, but it is reasonable. I only wish it could be like this for all the others. Please don't "settle for less" people. If you have the energy, make your voice known (yes- politically, too). We need to advocate AS MUCH for ourselves as we do for our patients! The current nursing situation is NOT safe and it is NOT just about money!I feel very strongly about this, obviously. The answer starts with us. Thanks for listening.



648 Posts

Hi to all posters,

I am gravely concerned about nurses working in un-safe care conditions. In well-staffed, well-coordinated units there will be days when you wonder what hit you and know that the decision making conditions where not optimal, but if this were routine, what would be keeping a person there? I assume it would be loyalty (to a better time, to co-workers, to a hospital) or MONEY, though I think your co-dependency point is excellent. (We could definitely start a thread around that one.) If people work in un-safe conditions, have tried to change them from within and failed, what keeps one there? Good question.

I guess I want to clarify one thing. I did "sacrifice" the higher pay of the hospital to work in a school setting. Bully to those of you who find they can get the best of both worlds, but I refuse to say I can ONLY feel successful if I am paid well AND I get gratification from my job. I really, really like my job. I like my nursing identity. I like my life. My pay is not great and is, therefore, a cost of my decision, one I can afford and am willing to pay.

If one stays in the personally costly, stressful, but stimulating and sometimes state-of-the-art world of hospital nursing but loves OR hates their life, their decision has a price. No argument that one choice over the other is superior. They are simply choices. Are you happy with your choices? Do you feel the costs of your choices are reasonable or unreasonable. That's the question.


87 Posts

Specializes in Med/Surg, Ortho, Rehab, ACU-Telemetry.

This is in reply to the topic: nurses being in this field solely for the money. First I want to make a few comments re: Molly, the first person that responded. First of all, the nursing bulletin boards are for nurses to VOICE THEIR OPINION/SAY HOW THEY FEEL ABOUT NURSING. This board is suppose to provide ANY nurse helpful/useful info.,whether it be + or -...............

Everyone needs and should have the ability and capability to WHINE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!This is our right as humans. If we didn't whine, we would become "constipated"!!!!!!!! smile.gif)

In regards to BabyNurse's article: it is sad with her being a new nurse, to have to be subjected with complaints/unhappy nurses, etc. When I graduated eight yrs ago, I felt just like she did and still does. This does nothing to enhance your wanting to pursue your career in nursing. After all, we all know that getting our license's wasn't an easy thing to do. So when you have a new nurse, that has worked her butt off to obtain her "dream/goal" ---all she hears is negativity.

Sad to say though, nursing doesn't have many + things to say about the profession itself. I have worked on a surgical floor for 8 yrs and love the surgical aspect of nursing. I also loved the interaction/communication between my patients and their families. This is also going to blow some of you out of the water but: "It was always a joke on my floor because I was made fun of from the other nurses. WHY YOU ASK? FOR TALKING TOO MUCH TO MY PATIENTS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I was always the last to leave. 90% (or probably higher) just went and did their job. Almost like a "robot" with little communication. Rarely did I see a nurse that really "gave a darn" about (Ms. Smith living alone with nobody to care for her after her surgery)........Get the point?

I didn't go into nursing for the pay. I went into it for the "traditional" reason: I wanted to help people. I had a nsg instructor who told us one day: if anyone here is in nursing to get "warm fuzzies" then you are in the wrong profession. Isn't that sad?

I am in a point in my life suffering from

MAJOR BURN OUT SYNDROME...................

I want to try different areas of nsg but most areas only hire "exp. required". How do they expect you go get "experience" if they don't give you a chance? I use to be in the secretary/data entry/career. I want to go back to that, but I would also like to change areas of nursing. I have my resume posted on the internet. Any suggestions/ideas please feel free to email me.


Kathy, RN



131 Posts

I am glad to see this topic is still so hot.

Kona, I guess that my attitude about not worrying about the extra 10 hours a week I put in needs some clarification. There are times when I take a half day off, or I attend professional meetings on work time. My other payback which is a plus for me is that my facility pays for my partner and I to go to conferences and they pay for the hotel and conference expenses.

I remember my senior year (1993) and my nursing instructor telling us that anyone in management who thought that he/she would strictly work a 40 week was crazy.

So coming from that perspective, I am comfortable with what I do.

I remind my nurses that they need to take breaks. I am on the unit, I offer to help out with admissions or whatever. (We are in LTC.) I know that all management nurses are not like me, but I hope that other managers do not lose sight of where their roots are. I feel confident saying that my staff will come to me to ask for help. I offer it and that makes all the difference to some of them.

I think I got away from the subject a little. I pray that you will all find something positive to say about being a nurse. NA


148 Posts

'morning, all.

Oh, boy do I feel old.

I've been in the profession about 24 years now and I do enjoy what I do. Nursing and being a nurse is a PART of who I am, not all of me. I, too, left acute care, but for out-patient/ambulatory care, then education. I still work in a clinical setting to keep current.

Salary? There's more to it than $$/hr.; how many people outside of nursing make

That instructor was correct: If you are in nursing for the warm fuzzies, you're going to be disappointed. It may be sad, but it's true. Patients have enough to do to get better and go home, or wherever. Families, if they're around, have enough to do to do the family stuff. Sure we get a thank you or a note of appreciation sometimes, but from everyone--nope. Anyway...

kdblueey--market yourself. 8 years in practice, with surgical experience. You're a goldmine in the rough. Equipment sales, SICU (?burnout?), instructor to name just a few. You have data entry experience. Nursing informantics--new-ish field with computers and stuff. Babynurse--hang in there too. Heck, even with my years, I still call to make sure I've done something or to check on someone I'm worried about. My co-workers expect it! I get kidded sometimes, but WHO CARES! Don't let the negative get you down. Care for YOU first and get an answer machine smile.gif



64 Posts

*APPLAUD*...MollyJ and Kona and others who contributed to this topic. I have read other BB's and only too well comprehend what most of the down-trodden have said. It is necessary, though, to also reflect some insight into the REASON why we are nurses.

Rating your current job in terms of pay, fulfillment, status, or whatever the measures may be, is a way of stopping and taking a look around you. We definately become almost like robots, functioning on auto-pilot to hurry and get as much done as we possibly can. The problems that abound, (short staffing, wage, HMO's, etc), create pessimism, malnutrition, and bladder dysfuntions.

Before becoming a nurse I worked in a LTC as a CNA. I worked hard and did as much as I could to add quality of living to those at the closing chapters of their lives. I, too, got in trouble for spending 'too much time with the residents'. As insane as that is...that is what I thought my job be there for them. I believe in reminiscence and allowing people to reflect on their lives is soooo healthy, mind, body and spirit wise!

When entering 'Mr. John Doe's' room, seeing his carefully displayed black/white photos and memorabilia, I would take the time to look at them. Focusing on one in a dusty, chrome frame. There he stood, 30 years prior, muscular, tanned and smiling. Standing arm and arm with a Navy chum. Wind blowing their hair, sun in their eyes, and "up to no good" grins. What stories that one picture told! I would comment on the photo, inciting him to offer cherished memories that had not been spoken or even thought of in years. Between his laughs and tears, I would go back in time with him. Life is so short, regardless of age, it goes by fast. Giving him the chance to share a piece of it, gave it value. And as I initiated my exit, "to get back to work", he reached for my hand. With a tear in his eye and his lower lip trembling, he thanked me.

While working as a CNA, I worked with nurses that thought if they stepped outside the Nurse's Station, they would disintegrate. I also worked with nurses that did their duties as well as get out on the floor and wipe butts, lift, and interact with staff and residents. Those nurses where the ones that inspired me to become the nurse I am today.

Nursing still has elements of prestige and respect. It is what you put into it, (as with any job). But I feel the the corporate heads and administrators take full advantage of our giving, compassionate qualities that make us nurses to begin with. We care and give and give until our own mental and physical health compromises. We are (most of us) selfless, charitable, and dedicated. That is why we do what we do, regardless of the compensations. We want to make a difference in lives, to improve lives, to be 'Angels of Mercy'. And because we are made of those qualities, we languish in the frustation of not being able to fix the corporate aspect of our field.

What is a person's occupation WORTH that risks their own life, (exposure to AIDS, TB, Hep, abuse, bladder dysfunction, and malnutrition), to assist in the cares of others? I love my "job", the opporotunities I have to learn, teach, and impact. My voice is heard and my heart is touched daily. I work in a clinic and I earn less $$ than some in Medical Records (they make charts and file them) earn, they don't have a college degree, nor have life or death decisions to make, nor do they get the satisfaction a nurse gets when interacting, and caring for a patient. I rate job satisfaction 4/5, prestige and accomplishment 3/5, wage 2/5...but I am not in it to get wealthy, I want and deserve more and hopefully over time my efforts will prevail. But in the meantime I am doing the work I enjoy.

BabyNurse-I love your statement of..."ATTITUDE determines ALTITUDE". Amen.

I will end with a joke I heard...

~Did you hear about the dead, naked NURSE that washed up on shore today?

~How did they know it was a NURSE?

~Her stomach was empty, her bladder was full and her ass was chewed out!!

Ha ha, hardy hee hee...have a great day and give a good dose of SMILES...i-ii q 1h PRN. biggrin.gif

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