No satisfaction: Nurses' salaries remain flat

Though hiring in healthcare continues to move at a brisk pace, the industry's overall growth doesn't translate to improving some existing workers' compensation, a new report suggests.

The annual survey, conducted by the Association of periOperative Registered Nurses (AORN), found little change for the average percentage of pay raises for nurses of various job descriptions between 2013 and 2014. For example, the average pay raise reported by staff nurses was 2.4 percent in 2013 and 2.3 percent in 2014, while clinical nurse specialists reported an average 2.2 percent raise changing to a 2.7 percent raise.

Nurses in leadership positions didn't fare any better--directors and assistant directors of nursing went from a 2.9 to 3.0 percent average raise, while nurse managers and supervisors saw an average 2.8 percent raise drop ever so slightly to 2.7 percent.

The scarcity of raises hasn't gone unnoticed, the survey notes. Of the 14 percent of nurses who indicated in the survey that they would probably or definitely quit--up from 11 percent who said the same in 2013--18 percent mentioned dissatisfaction with compensation as one of the reasons for quitting.

The AORN report is certainly not the first to indicate that nurses feel they are underpaid and underappreciated. A 2013 report from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation found that fewer than half of nurses surveyed felt they were fairly compensated, and only a third felt their salaries were adequate, FierceHealthcare previously reported. Those results are in stark contrast to the 85 percent of nurses who reported they are satisfied with their jobs and the whopping 90 percent who felt their job made a difference in the community.

Gender dynamics may also play a part in nurses' compensation, with research indicating that as more men enter the traditionally female-dominated field, they're being paid more on average than women who do the same job, FierceHealthcare reported.

While the AORN survey notes that the median percentage of vacant full-time nursing positions increased only half a percent from 2013 to 2014, the open-ended feedback from nurses indicates that compensation complaints are still a major issue for nurses.

"Based on the acuity of care, our years of service and experience, our knowledge and expertise base, we as nurses sell ourselves short," one nurse wrote. "We deserve better and, more importantly, so do our patients."

To learn more:
- check out the report