Survey: Public health nurses like their jobs, not their salaries

While most nurses who work for state and local health departments report high levels of job satisfaction, they are not happy with salary compensation or limited promotion opportunities, according to a report released last week by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF).

The good news: Approximately 85 percent of nurses are satisfied with their jobs and 90 percent report they make a difference in their communities. However, only 41 percent say they are fairly compensated for the work they perform while only 33 percent consider their salaries adequate.

The study also revealed nurses in local health departments report lower salary ranges than most positions in state health departments.

Public health nurses also expressed concerns about career advancement, with 56 percent of nurses agreeing or strongly agreeing that promotion opportunities are lacking.

Based on the survey findings, the Public Health Nursing Workforce Advisory Committee recommends looking into how healthcare reform will affect the functions and responsibilities of public health nurses and the education they need. As of now, only 10 states require public health nurses to hold Bachelor of Science in Nursing degrees. 

Nurses support calls for enhanced education and training, according to the survey. About 64 percent of nurses want more opportunities for training and professional development.

"It should be a high priority to address gaps and take steps to strengthen the public health nursing workforce," RWJF Senior Program Officer Pamela G. Russo, M.D., said in an announcement. "The size, makeup, and preparation of the public health nursing workforce greatly affect the ability of agencies to protect and improve the health of people in their jurisdictions," she said.

For more:
- here's the RWJF report and announcement