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Step pay effect on older nurses getting hired?

Posted

Has 27 years experience.

I live in a part of the nation where most hospitals are unionized, with a step pay scale. It's rather extreme, with new nurses making $26 an hr, and the most years of experience making up to $45 or $46 an hr. I am currently at $40 an hr.

I've applied to a few Per Diem jobs with no response. I have a lot of varied experience. I'm worried that my years of experience may be interfering with my ability to change facilities down the road. After all, why should someone hire me when they can get a younger nurse with solid experience for much less? In this tighter job market, I think it may be hurting older nurses.

I remember, at my previous hospital, when the union fought to make sure incoming nurses were given credit on the wage scale for all their years of experience. Prior to that, HR would make an offer at a certain step, take it or leave it.

Now I'm feeling a little trapped, unless the job market improves. I'd happily take a lower pay for a job I might prefer, but I think a lot of these facilities now have their arms tied.

Unfortunately, this is the system throughout the working world, throughout the professions.

Why pay significantly more for a lot of experience, when they can pay significantly less for someone still qualified for the job (but less experience)? Answer: They won't.

Newer, younger people have forever pushed older, more experienced people out of their jobs. Welcome to America :(

llg, PhD, RN

Specializes in Nursing Professional Development. Has 43 years experience.

There are advantages and disadvantages to everything -- including every system of professional compensation. Back when many of these union contract standards were established, the younger nurses were the majority, and employers were willing/happy to reward experienced nurses because their experience was valuable and there weren't many experienced nurses around. Now the situation has changed. The population has shifted and there are plenty of experienced nurses who still want to work. Their (our) experience is not so rare anymore. Hospitals don't want to pay a premium price for it ... but they are locked into the union contracts and general community standards that include paying experienced people more. That makes very experienced workers not so attractive anymore.

It will be interesting to watch how it all works out. I am hoping that new options become available for older nurses who are willing to sacrifice pay for increased flexibility in scheduling or work conditions as they (we) want to ease into retirement. Will unions be willing to cooperate with their older members who want to make such deals? I don't know. I guess it will depend on what the majority of their active members choose to support.

Esme12, ASN, BSN, RN

Specializes in Critical Care, ED, Cath lab, CTPAC,Trauma. Has 40 years experience.

I may be in the minority...my experience is hard earned and I expect to get paid for it.

But yes... we are not being hired because we cost more.

Altra, BSN, RN

Specializes in Emergency & Trauma/Adult ICU.

There are advantages and disadvantages to everything -- including every system of professional compensation. Back when many of these union contract standards were established, the younger nurses were the majority, and employers were willing/happy to reward experienced nurses because their experience was valuable and there weren't many experienced nurses around. Now the situation has changed. The population has shifted and there are plenty of experienced nurses who still want to work. Their (our) experience is not so rare anymore. Hospitals don't want to pay a premium price for it ... but they are locked into the union contracts and general community standards that include paying experienced people more. That makes very experienced workers not so attractive anymore.

It will be interesting to watch how it all works out. I am hoping that new options become available for older nurses who are willing to sacrifice pay for increased flexibility in scheduling or work conditions as they (we) want to ease into retirement. Will unions be willing to cooperate with their older members who want to make such deals? I don't know. I guess it will depend on what the majority of their active members choose to support.

While I do not dispute what you're saying, your description of this phenomenon leaves out "the middle". My peer age group has 20-25 years of experience but is still 20 years away from retirement. No easing into retirement here ... we are still in full swing ... but old enough with enough significant experience to warrant increased pay.

But until healthcare management culture steps back from crisis mode -- if the inexperienced nurse didn't kill anyone on the last shift we're OK -- the market works against experience.

Im also going to point something out that the older nurses wont like to hear

But I think part of the reason why they would rather hire somebody younger (other than just the money which is important) is because older nurses are generally terrible with EMR.

Were still in a midst of a national transition to EMR, which I expect to continue to increase more and more every year.

And then you have nurses who are older (I have no interest in listing ages) that never grew up with computers or the internet. And frequently struggle or have trouble using electronic medical systems.

I cant even begin to tell you how many errors with billing/documentation/medication there are with older nurses who are in the ballpark of completely computer illiterate at my facility.

So with older nurses you have

-higher pay

- more difficulty/errors/time consumed with EMR

- more likely to have an associate degree (when hospitals prefer BSN +)

- more medical costs (if your hospital is self insured)

- less likely to work for you as a long as a younger person (since you assume people are going to retire) increasing turnover costs

At the same time older nurses can bring a wealth of incredibly valuable experience, but I think it makes more sense for organizations to just retain their own "old" nurses, instead of overpay someone elses.

brandy1017, ASN, RN

Specializes in Critical Care.

I wish we had a step system! Where I work wages are compressed and most nurses are not at the top of the wage scale and just get little 2% raises. The only way to make more money is either overtime, working for agency or switching hospitals. Although I know some RN's who were not given raises, but only matched their prior rate when they made the switch!

brandy1017, ASN, RN

Specializes in Critical Care.

Im also going to point something out that the older nurses wont like to hear

But I think part of the reason why they would rather hire somebody younger (other than just the money which is important) is because older nurses are generally terrible with EMR.

Were still in a midst of a national transition to EMR, which I expect to continue to increase more and more every year.

And then you have nurses who are older (I have no interest in listing ages) that never grew up with computers or the internet. And frequently struggle or have trouble using electronic medical systems.

I cant even begin to tell you how many errors with billing/documentation/medication there are with older nurses who are in the ballpark of completely computer illiterate at my facility.

So with older nurses you have

-higher pay

- more difficulty/errors/time consumed with EMR

- more likely to have an associate degree (when hospitals prefer BSN +)

- more medical costs (if your hospital is self insured)

- less likely to work for you as a long as a younger person (since you assume people are going to retire) increasing turnover costs

At the same time older nurses can bring a wealth of incredibly valuable experience, but I think it makes more sense for organizations to just retain their own "old" nurses, instead of overpay someone elses.

As far as the EMR I see no difference in what age you are! We all have to be trained, and we all have no choice in what system they choose, many are not user friendly. Most nurses use the internet, have cell phones and are familiar with the computer. Give me a break! We are not living in the stone age! I love the internet! It is a virtual encyclopedia at my finger tips!

As for the EMR, not so much! I can tell you it takes a lot longer to pass meds and chart and is a hassle, not because I'm older, but because it is a crappy system. I was a secretary, typed 70 words a minute, worked as a word processor and took the manual home to find shortcuts to speed up my production. Talk about a pink ghetto job! Data entry was even worse, they would count your keystrokes and your fingers had better be on the computer!

The EMR is a joke, If you are a minute late or early it gives you a message you must address why is this. If you gave a med recently it asks why you are giving it again. Not to mention the scanner doesn't work well, some meds just won't scan or you get an error message. This isn't because I'm old, but problems in the system itself. Now our educator would have us drop everything, call pharmacy and get them to fix the situation so the med will scan correctly. Frankly I'm not going to get behind in my med pass for this so I can have more stupid messages I have to answer before the computer will let me give the med! But you better have your scan percentages over 90% as they have weekly readups and that is part of your eval! I joke I could be working at Walmart or Target!

Now we have to put in orders and while the secretaries had a lot of training we must figure out the system without training or a manual and on top of that they plan to switch systems soon so everything we are doing now will be worthless. My poor doctors spends hours longer at work because of all the computerized charting. It simply does take longer and like I said I'm a quick worker! I feel for him and the other doctors who are now having the job of secretary added to their already insane workload!

As far as health costs, while they may rise as a person gets older, the younger nurses usually have health care costs from having babies! That can cost an employer plenty, plus time off work so I think it is a wash as nursing is mostly a female work environment! A premature baby with complications can run into the millions so I don't think your excuse holds water! I forget what company was in the news for the CEO planning to cut retirement benefits blaming the cost of a couple of preemies! Did he have egg on his face when the media got wind of that!

He had to apologize and back track. Anybody out there remember the company I'm talking about?

Lastly the younger nurses are more likely to job hop as they try to make their way and as they switch jobs looking for better working conditions, many times in vain!

Edited by brandy1017

Emergent, RN

Has 27 years experience.

I just wish that union contracts were more flexible. I'd like to be able to negotiate my own wage, if I so choose. I don't want this to impede me in being able to seek employment. I do, totally get why it can.

As far as EMR, the internet has been around for a long time, I'm just as good with computers as someone 20 yrs younger. Computer charting has been around a long time. We all have computers and smartphones and it doesn't take a genius to learn how to use them.

I love making $40 an hr, but I'll take less for a job I like better.

llg, PhD, RN

Specializes in Nursing Professional Development. Has 43 years experience.

While I do not dispute what you're saying, your description of this phenomenon leaves out "the middle". My peer age group has 20-25 years of experience but is still 20 years away from retirement. No easing into retirement here ... we are still in full swing ... but old enough with enough significant experience to warrant increased pay.

But until healthcare management culture steps back from crisis mode -- if the inexperienced nurse didn't kill anyone on the last shift we're OK -- the market works against experience.

I didn't mean to "leave you out" and am sorry if you took any offense to what I wrote. I just meant that it is the large "baby boomer" cohort of nurse now approaching retirement that might stimulate a change in some aspects of the job market. You "middle folks" are there -- and certainly very important -- but you won't be the ones putting pressure on the system to open up more varied compensation packages (i.e. wanting more flexible schedules or different benefit packages and willing to sacrifice a little cash to get those things.)

Ruby Vee, BSN

Specializes in CCU, SICU, CVSICU, Precepting & Teaching. Has 40 years experience.

Im also going to point something out that the older nurses wont like to hear

But I think part of the reason why they would rather hire somebody younger (other than just the money which is important) is because older nurses are generally terrible with EMR.

Were still in a midst of a national transition to EMR, which I expect to continue to increase more and more every year.

And then you have nurses who are older (I have no interest in listing ages) that never grew up with computers or the internet. And frequently struggle or have trouble using electronic medical systems.

I cant even begin to tell you how many errors with billing/documentation/medication there are with older nurses who are in the ballpark of completely computer illiterate at my facility.

So with older nurses you have

-higher pay

- more difficulty/errors/time consumed with EMR

- more likely to have an associate degree (when hospitals prefer BSN +)

- more medical costs (if your hospital is self insured)

- less likely to work for you as a long as a younger person (since you assume people are going to retire) increasing turnover costs

At the same time older nurses can bring a wealth of incredibly valuable experience, but I think it makes more sense for organizations to just retain their own "old" nurses, instead of overpay someone elses.

Ageist much?

I'm an "older nurse" -- my 38 years of experience will give you some idea -- who grew up without a computer or the internet OR electricity OR indoor plumbing. I can manage the EMR just fine, thank you. My older peers and I all made a concerted effort to learn to use the EMR when it first came out. Along with balloon pumps, VADs, and all sorts of other new technology that has come our way. If you can trust me to manage a critically ill patient with 12 Alaris pumps (we used Buretrols back in the dark ages when I started in ICU, not pumps), a balloon pump, VAD and dialysis, why would I not be equally proficient with charting on the computer?

BSNs aren't something new -- nurses my age are MORE likely to have a BSN than an ADN -- they weren't doing ADNs in my day. There WERE doing diplomas, and there are a few nurses left with diploma degrees. They're managing EMR just fine, too.

Older nurses are less likely to have maternity leaves or costs associated with pregnancy and childbirth. We have fewer family members on our health insurance -- unlike the young mother I work with who has five children (six people on her medical insurance), there's just me. DH has his own insurance.

Unlike younger people who not only think it's OK to quit a job after less than a year, older nurses are likely to stay with the same institution and often the same job for a decade or longer. When you hire a young 20-something, you can pretty much count on them NOT staying. Turnover costs are MUCH higher.

Experienced nurses require less orientation time than new grads.

Your post was incredibly ageist and unbelievably offensive.

As far as the EMR I see no difference in what age you are! We all have to be trained, and we all have no choice in what system they choose, many are not user friendly. Most nurses use the internet, have cell phones and are familiar with the computer. Give me a break! We are not living in the stone age! I love the internet! It is a virtual encyclopedia at my finger tips!

As for the EMR, not so much! I can tell you it takes a lot longer to pass meds and chart and is a hassle, not because I'm older, but because it is a crappy system. I was a secretary, typed 70 words a minute, worked as a word processor and took the manual home to find shortcuts to speed up my production. Talk about a pink ghetto job! Data entry was even worse, they would count your keystrokes and your fingers had better be on the computer!

The EMR is a joke, If you are a minute late or early it gives you a message you must address why is this. If you gave a med recently it asks why you are giving it again. Not to mention the scanner doesn't work well, some meds just won't scan or you get an error message. This isn't because I'm old, but problems in the system itself. Now our educator would have us drop everything, call pharmacy and get them to fix the situation so the med will scan correctly. Frankly I'm not going to get behind in my med pass for this so I can have more stupid messages I have to answer before the computer will let me give the med! But you better have your scan percentages over 90% as they have weekly readups and that is part of your eval! I joke I could be working at Walmart or Target!

Now we have to put in orders and while the secretaries had a lot of training we must figure out the system without training or a manual and on top of that they plan to switch systems soon so everything we are doing now will be worthless. My poor doctors spends hours longer at work because of all the computerized charting. It simply does take longer and like I said I'm a quick worker! I feel for him and the other doctors who are now having the job of secretary added to their already insane workload!

As far as health costs, while they may rise as a person gets older, the younger nurses usually have health care costs from having babies! That can cost an employer plenty, plus time off work so I think it is a wash as nursing is mostly a female work environment! A premature baby with complications can run into the millions so I don't think your excuse holds water! I forget what company was in the news for the CEO planning to cut retirement benefits blaming the cost of a couple of preemies! Did he have egg on his face when the media got wind of that!

He had to apologize and back track. Anybody out there remember the company I'm talking about?

Lastly the younger nurses are more likely to job hop as they try to make their way and as they switch jobs looking for better working conditions, many times in vain!

You were a secretary though, which means you had previous career experience using computers.

I really dont think the older generation as a whole is very good with computers.

I mean theres a massive amount who doesnt know how to type (without looking at the keyboard and pounding keys like throwing darts) or use resources like lexicomp etc

I wasnt being agest.

People who grew up with computers will be better than people who didnt.

Heck im relatiely young, and the internet wasnt around until I went to highschool.

Different generations have their own strengths/weaknesses.

And I think EMR is a huge weakness for older nurses

And im definitely not saying a hospital should be hiring a fresh 21 year old right out of nursing school instead of a 60 year old nurse.

Its likely more ideal to get those nurses who have 5-10 years of experience and are probably just past their child bearing years (which isnt me)

They give you a blend of both worlds.

Edited by mhy12784

Emergent, RN

Has 27 years experience.

You were a secretary though, which means you had previous career experience using computers.

I really dont think the older generation as a whole is very good with computers.

I mean theres a massive amount who doesnt know how to type (without looking at the keyboard and pounding keys like throwing darts) or use resources like lexicomp etc

I wasnt being agest.

People who grew up with computers will be better than people who didnt.

Heck im relatiely young, and the internet wasnt around until I went to highschool.

Different generations have their own strengths/weaknesses.

And I think EMR is a huge weakness for older nurses

Yes, I can tell you are young. I notice a lack of appropriate capitalization, and the lack of usage of apostrophes.

I have a wonderful android phone, and it auto corrects and offers the proper choices for me, so I can at least pretend to know proper spelling and punctuation. ;)

Yes, I can tell you are young. I notice a lack of appropriate capitalization, and the lack of usage of apostrophes.

I have a wonderful android phone, and it auto corrects and offers the proper choices for me, so I can at least pretend to know proper spelling and punctuation. ;)

Is it unreasonable to say that younger generations are far more proficient with computers and technology than those who are nearing retirement ?

Because ill also say that the older generations do have FAR better work ethic than my generation.

Ruas61, BSN, RN

Specializes in MDS/ UR. Has 38 years experience.

And im definitely not saying a hospital should be hiring a fresh 21 year old right out of nursing school instead of a 60 year old nurse.

Its likely more ideal to get those nurses who have 5-10 years of experience and are probably just past their child bearing years (which isnt me)

They give you a blend of both worlds.

You are really digging a hole here.

joanna73, BSN, RN

Specializes in geriatrics.

I've noticed this trend in Canada as well. Employers don't want new grads for lack of experience, and they don't want to pay a nurse 45-50 an hour plus shift differentials, so they're opting for someone in the middle. Unless you're management, most positions are unionized and pay is graded on a scale.

In addition, RNS are being phased out in many parts of the country for LPNS, LPNS for health care aides. It's all about money. Unfortunately, I don't see this changing. Where I work, administration continues to make cuts to all services, not just nursing staff.

brandy1017, ASN, RN

Specializes in Critical Care.

You were a secretary though, which means you had previous career experience using computers.

I really dont think the older generation as a whole is very good with computers.

I mean theres a massive amount who doesnt know how to type (without looking at the keyboard and pounding keys like throwing darts) or use resources like lexicomp etc

I wasnt being agest.

People who grew up with computers will be better than people who didnt.

Heck im relatiely young, and the internet wasnt around until I went to highschool.

Different generations have their own strengths/weaknesses.

And I think EMR is a huge weakness for older nurses

Not all people, even young ones learn to type yet are able to use a computer, although typing surely speeds the process. Ruby Vee made even better arguments re to all the new technology we older nurses have learned on the job.

I don't think older nurses have trouble with the computer as most have their own at home along with a cell phone/smart phone. The problem is the computer programs are tedious and not user friendly. I worked with someone who had a job in FL where you swiped your badge into the computer and the screen opened right up. Also a VA nurse who said their program was really quick and easy, not the many steps we have to go thru just to get to the right screen to accept the med scanning or charting! The EMR is not a weakness for older nurses, but it is a drag for many workers when they have to deal with a crappy system!