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November 20, 2015

Medscape: Many nurses regret their career choice

Daily Briefing

The majority of nurses are satisfied with their pay, but not where they practice—and about half wouldn't choose to be a nurse if they did it all over again, according to a new Medscape survey.

Medscape polled about 8,200 RNs, advanced-practice nurses (APNs), and licensed practical/vocational nurses (LPNs/LVNs) currently working in the United States.

The survey found that nurse anesthetists had the highest average annual gross salary, at $170,000, followed by:

  • Nurse practitioners, at $102,000;
  • Nurse midwives, at $99,000;
  • Clinical nurse specialists, at $95,000;
  • RNs, at $79,000; and
  • LPNs/LVNs, at $46,000.

Male nurses on average had higher average annual gross salaries across the board—$9,000 higher than their female peers' for APNs, $7,000 higher for RNs, and $3,000 higher for LPNs/LVNs. Medscape's Susan Yox told Reuters that while it could be that men taking on more employment, working more overtime, or being likelier to assume managerial roles than women, "we also cannot rule out intrinsic gender bias."

Overall, between 54% and 73% of APN respondents, depending on their specialty, were content with their salary, compared with 53% of RNs and 43% of LPNs/LVNs.

Satisfaction with practice setting, job

But most nurses would chose a different practice setting if they did it over again—only 12% of LPNs/LVNs, 22% of RNs, and 32% of APNs would stick with the same practice setting. Only about a third of nurses working in hospitals or hospital-based outpatient settings said they would choose those practice settings again.

And many nurses wouldn't select nursing as their career if they "had to do it again," including only:

  • 60% of APNs;
  • 56% of RNs; and
  • 48% of LPNs.

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Patricia Davidson, dean of the John Hopkins University School of Nursing, told Reuters that new challenges in the health care system, such as fewer resources and financial constraints, could contribute to the percentage of nurses that would chose a different profession.

Yox cited the everyday difficulties, including the "long hours, weekend and holiday work, and ... the need to provide hands-on care to people at their most vulnerable times in life." She added that Medscape hopes "this survey will begin to foster dialogue about the reasons for nursing dissatisfaction and burnout and spur changes where needed" (Peckham, Medscape, 11/17; Peckham, Medscape report, 11/18; Rapaport, Reuters, 11/18).

See how one health system made their nurses a formal part of the care team

Nurse leaders at Sharp Memorial Hospital share the impact the Care Partners Program—a program where caregivers could opt in to and become a formal part of care team—had on the patient experience.

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