Would You Pursue Nursing Again?

November 30th 2015
Allison Gilchrist, Associate Editor
Allison Gilchrist, Associate Editor

Given the choice, the majority of advanced practice nurses would pursue a nursing career again.

Given the choice, the majority of advanced practice nurses (APNs) would pursue a nursing career again, according to a recent survey.

The survey, which measured more than 8000 US nurses’ compensation and job satisfactions levels, found that 60% of APNs, 56% of registered nurses (RNs), and 48% of licensed practical nurses (LPNs) would choose the nursing field again.

Nevertheless, many nurses reported dissatisfaction with their practice settings. Only about 32% of APNs would choose their current settings again, followed by 22% of RNs and 12% of LPNs.

Breaking the data down by practice setting, 43% of nurses working in non-hospital-based medical offices would choose to work there again, followed by public health (38%), faculty in academic settings (37%), inpatient hospital settings (34%), and outpatient care (32%).

Education

Unsurprisingly, RNs with advanced degrees are paid higher salaries than their counterparts with associate’s degrees or diploma program credentials.

Nurses with doctoral degrees earn an average salary of $96,000 per year, while those with a master’s degree earn $87,000 annually, on average, and those with either a BS or BA earn $79,000 annually, on average. Nurses with associates degrees or a diploma program earn $73,000 a year, on average.

Currently, 51% of nurses have a BSN degree or higher. The Institute of Medicine has set a goal for 80% of all nurses to have at least this degree by 2020.

“The longstanding debate about education comes from the fact that we were very reactive to nursing shortages years ago,” explained American Nurses Association president Pam Cipriano in an interviewMedscape. “We would start on a journey to increase the educational requirement, but whenever a nursing shortage appeared, we tended to back away, believing that production of new nurses was more important than boosting the education of nurses.”

Salary

About half of respondent nurses in any category said they received a salary increase between 2013 and 2014, while 9% reported a decrease in salary since 2013.

With respect to compensation, nurses in the West generally fare the best, while those in the North Central and Southeast regions fare the worst.

Overall, nurses in all APN groups have much higher salaries than RNs.

The highest paid APNs are nurse anesthetists, who make $170,000 annually but comprise just 0.1% of all US nurses. Clinical nurse specialists receive the lowest annual salary of any APN at a $95,000 per year average salary—though 54% report satisfaction with their wage.

Interestingly, about the same percentage of RNs (53%) report being satisfied with their salary despite making $16,000 less than clinical nurse specialists.

LPNs are paid the least among nurses, with an annual salary of $46,000. Just 43% report feeling satisfied with their compensation.

The survey referred to a 2015JAMAstudy that found the nursing income gap between the sexes favors male nurses to the same extent it favors male physicians, despite the fact that 90% of nurses are women.

Benefits

The majority of all full-time nurses (92%) are entitled to paid time off in the form of vacation time, sick days, or personal time, and about 87% receive subsidized health benefits from their employer.

Other benefits afforded to full-time nurses included an education allowance (60%), reimbursement for certification fees (45%), and bonuses or other incentives (24%).

When the survey results are broken down by type of nurse, however, the disparities between benefits across the different nursing tracks are stark.

Just 84% of full-time LPNs get any paid time off, compared with 93% and 91% of RNs and APNs, respectively. About 25% of full-time LPNs don’t have employer-subsidized health insurance, and around 9% reported having no benefits at all.

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