DiversityNursing Blog

A Perspective On Nursing Salaries

Posted by Erica Bettencourt

Thu, Apr 27, 2017 @ 11:05 AM

salary.jpgSome people choose to become a Nurse because of the salary, only to discover after experiencing it first hand, the money isn't worth it and they leave.
It takes a special type of person to be a Nurse. If you’re miserable, money won't keep you happy throughout your career.As you know, Nurses are passionate about what they do and often find the job itself is rewarding. Its hard work and many wouldn't change a thing. At the end of the day, Nurses are saving lives and you can’t put a price tag on that! 

Back in the ’70s

I recently heard some students brag about how they were going into nursing “for the money.” This brought me back to my own beginnings as a new grad back in the ’70s. Starting at $10 an hour, I was one of the highest paid nurses in town. My wife and I felt like we’d just hit a lottery, although we quickly adjusted to our level of affluence. Some of my contemporaries at the time didn’t fare as well, taking care of eight patients at a time for $3 an hour. That’s about $6,000 a year.

We worked hard back then. I know, the conventional wisdom is that it’s so much harder today (although more than one recruiter and millennial as well has told me that some new nurses need to learn how to work). However, some new grads with whom I started were so stressed they couldn’t pass meds without sobbing. I was hired into critical care with about 25 other new grads. We practiced without a license until we passed or failed boards (if you failed, you were an automatic nursing assistant with a reduction in pay until you passed). I’m not a delicate creature, but I wanted to cry while taking care of my first patient. (I didn’t because I remembered that I was a “guy” nurse, and we weren’t supposed to cry on the job.) My patient had just had a Whipple procedure, and his dressings and ostomy bags fell off every time I turned him, putting him way beyond my skill level.

Ultimately, I would insist that we all work hard for the money — back then and now. And as American RNs, we are the highest compensated nurses in the world. The question remains, is it worth it? As Boulder, Colo., ED nurse Melissa Moffatt, BSN, RN, said, “I hear [that people are entering nursing for the money] more and more these days. Of course, once they realize what hard work nursing is, many exit quickly.”

“… as American RNs, we are the highest compensated nurses in the world. The question remains, is it worth it?”

Many nurses in the U.S., including staff at the bedside, earn six-figure salaries. With the long-predicted shortage about to explode, the money will just get better. In a hard-hitting report from Nurse.com, Salaries on the Upswing, annual pay, which had been flat for years and began rising steadily by 1.3%, has now accelerated to 2.6% per year. In the grand job-market arena, weighing region, education and experience, the money’s not bad. But the work is hard — very hard — both physically and emotionally, and therein lies the rub.

Would you do it again?

Some people who become nurses talk about having a vocatione, a sacred calling, as do priests or nuns. I certainly did. Yes, practitioners should expect a fair working wage, but that shouldn’t be the sole reason they choose a nursing career. Very few who go into nursing only for the salary stay in it. At least that’s what my many Facebook friends think. Although, as my wife reminds me, they’re not a homogeneous lot because I don’t know them all as friends, really. There’s too many of them.

“Some people who become nurses talk about having a vocatione, a sacred calling, as do priests or nuns.”

I asked my Facebook nursing sample if they’d still be nurses if they could do it all over again. Then I asked if they feel or have felt appropriately compensated, remembering that there’s always someone richer or poorer. Here’s a sampling of opinions:

Carolyn Smeltzer, EdD, RN, FACHE, FAAN, retired partner in the Health Industry Advisory of PricewaterhouseCoopers: “Money never entered my mind. I went to help people and, Bob, I’m going to one up you. Graduated in 1972 and got $3.50 hr. And that included charge nurse and evening add ons! I was thrilled, and I got a car to get to work! Now, I agree that the nursing salary through my lifetime has been great, but I never expected it! Great profession!”

Nancy DiMauro, MA, RN, BC, dean of nursing program at ASA College, New York University: “For the money, no. For the great feeling of helping people with their health issues, yes. As they say, being a nurse is priceless.”

Karen Mascolo, DNP, RN, assistant professor of nursing at Kent State University: “‘Nursing ain’t for sissies,’ and if you choose nursing for the monetary benefits and not because you love the profession or love people, you will not stay. Through professional socialization, it becomes a part of your human fabric. It is impossible to separate being a nurse from your very being. It simply isn’t and cannot be about the money. It truly is a calling — fortunately one that provides a decent living.”

Donna Huether, RN, charge nurse, Newton Medical Center, Ogdensburg, NJ: “Definitely not the money. It has to be in your heart, or you shouldn’t be doing it at all.”

L.J. Bellard, BSN, RN: “I knew as a nurse I would have job security (technically I can find a job anywhere), and I would be comfortable, not rich. I was not looking for fame and fortune when I took my oath, holding the lamp. It is true that nurses are not paid what we may be worth, but who is? If I had to choose my profession all over again, I would still choose nursing without regret.”

My Facebook friends basically told me that if you’re a nurse, whatever job or role you’re in, you better love what you do. The money’s OK, but it’s not what compensates you. It’s the intangible rewards, like saving a life. -

Robert G. Hess Jr., PhD, RN, FAAN 

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Topics: Money, Nurse Salary, nursing salaries

Nursing Specialties and Their Salaries

Posted by Erica Bettencourt

Mon, Dec 07, 2015 @ 12:21 PM

Nursing SalariesMany times, Nurses will choose to pursue a career in healthcare so that they will have the chance to spend their days helping others.  There is an added bonus though.  Many of the Nursing Specialties have a career trajectory of solid growth with a Nursing salary that is well above the income level of the median population.

Which one of the Nursing Specialties will give you the most job security though?  Which one has the highest salary?  The specialties listed below have been in demand the most and have the highest nursing salaries.

CRNA (Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist)

Nursing Salary: $110,000 with 1,975 job postings annually.  This Nursing Specialty is the main provider for anesthesia in hospitals that have rural locations.  These Nurses assist in administering over 34 million anesthetics to various patients every year in the USA.

Pain Management Nurse

The average salary for this type of Nurse is right at $93,000 annually.  Each year there are around 871 job openings for Pain Management Nurses.  These Specialty Nurses work in tandem with other Nurses and doctors in order to treat patients who suffer from both chronic and acute pain.  They also have the responsibility of educating their patients so they can handle pain management in the future.

Geriatrics Nurse/Gerontology Nurse

The mean Nursing salary for a Geriatrics Nurse is $91,000 and annually there are close to 400 job openings across the US per year.  These Nurses can be the primary provider of health care for elderly patients in a variety of settings.  Their duties include exams and diagnosis to actually prescribing medications.  As the Baby Boomers age, this is an area where there is expected to be growth.

Family Nurse Practitioner

The mean salary for this Specialty Nurse is $88,000 annually and there are more than 7,000 job postings per year for this specialty.  These Nurses are like your family doctor.  They work with the same patients throughout their entire lives.  Many times, they will be the only health care professional for patients.  They conduct exams and can prescribe medications.

Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner

The salary for this type of Nurse is $86,000 annually and each year more than 4,500 job openings for this niche are posted.  This type of Nurse will treat, counsel and even medicate their patients who suffer from mental health issues.  They can work in quite a few different settings from private practices to correctional facilities and mental health clinics.

General Nurse Practitioner

The mean salary for a general Nurse Practitioner is $81,000 and there are more than 85,500 job postings for this specialty each year.  These Nurses are a critical element in regard to the health care industry and they are expected to fill the gap of primary care physicians in the years to come.  They are able to prescribe medicines and many times, they are the only health care professional that some people have.

Clinical Nurse Specialist

The Nursing salary for this specialty is $80,000 and each year there are nearly 7,000 job postings.  This type of Nurse focuses on a single area of expertise and they act as a sort of consultant to all of the rest of the Nurses on staff.  Their specialties can be anything from oncology to pediatrics and they also serve as coaches for both the staff and the patients.

Armed with this information, which one appeals to you?  If you are already on this list, would you switch to another specialty?  Which one and why?

Related Article: 

Top 10 highest paying nursing specialties (national average)

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