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New Nursing Survey Shows Trends in Employment, Compensation

Scott E. Rupp via Multibriefs

Medscape recently released the results of its RN/LPN Compensation Report for 2018, featuring the feedback of 10,282 nurses who reflected upon their salaries and pay from 2017. Based on the findings, the hospital continues to be the primary employer for RNs (52 percent), with 39 percent in inpatient settings and 13 percent in hospital-based outpatient settings.

Earnings continue to be attractive for those in the field. Full-time registered nurses (RNs) earned $81,000, while licensed practical nurses (LPNs) earned about half that at $46,000. For RNs, this was a small increase of about $1,000 from the previous year; LPNs didn’t appear to receive a similar rise in pay.

Medscape pontificates that the stalled rise in earnings might be because of the retirement of older caregivers while younger RNs are entering the field — the younger RNs make less than their more experienced peers.

For those working in the field, most are full timers. The older RNs, however, are likely going to transition to less than full-time work in the near future, the report indicated. Most RNs said they are paid by the hour (57 percent) and 43 percent said they are salaried.

The hourly salary is $37 for full-time and $38 for part-time. LPNs reported their hourly full-time wage is $22 an hour, and part-timers make $23. As might be expected, hospitals pay the most for these positions.

In regard to gender, for the fourth year men make more than their female counterparts, earning $6,000 more than women on average. This is the case despite the fact that only about 10 percent of all nurses are men.

For example, annual salaries among hourly paid RNs were 5 percent higher for men than women — $82,000 vs. $78,000. LPNs saw 13 percent more for men than women.

An interesting tidbit in the gender comparison is that more men work in urban settings than rural environments, where women are more likely occupy the profession.

Education is little changed from previous reports. Forty-nine percent of RNs have a bachelor’s degree. LPNs said they had practical nurse training (83 percent) compared with 89 percent in the previous study. Education and earning are directly correlated. The more education one has in healthcare the more they make, with about 10 percent increases for each rise in level of education.

They shouldn’t expect to be covered by a union, though, as a RNs and LPNs are not likely to belong to one. But the membership rolls are rising. Only 16 percent of RNs and 10 percent of LPNs belong to a local chapter.

As you might expect, those covered by a union are likely employed by hospitals. RNs earned about 13 percent more as members of a union and LPNs earned about 10 percent more.

Where are the wages highest geographically? For RNs, the Pacific Coast. Here, average incomes were $102,000, but the cost of living of these places likely factors into that high outcome. The lowest wages were in the region including Tennessee, Kentucky, Mississippi and Alabama, with an average annual wage of $69,000.

LPNs, not so much. The New England region pays the most for these folks, with $56,000.

To make these salaries, more RNs are working overtime, with as many as 42 percent reporting doing so in 2017, up to five hours or so per week.

Half of LPNs worked overtime. What about getting paid for being on call? Sixty-six percent of RNs who took call were paid; 55 percent of LPNs were paid for call.

While work benefits are pretty common (health insurance and such), more nurses are still paying for their school loans. The younger the employee, the more likely they still have loans that need to be paid.

Do nurses think they are paid enough for their work? Well, 56 percent of RNs say “yes” compared to 46 percent of LPNs.

Scott E. Rupp is a writer and an award-winning journalist focused on healthcare technology. He has worked as a public relations executive for a major electronic health record/practice management vendor, and he currently manages his own agency, millerrupp. In addition to writing for a variety of publications, Scott also offers his insights on healthcare technology and its leaders on his site, Electronic Health Reporter.

 

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