I am pleased to see an article on dwindling nursing salaries due to healthcare changes (www.Nurse.com/Article/Wealth-of-Opportunity). The author did a great job describing why salaries have decreased across the nation. I have been in leadership positions for over eight years and now have no control over employee salary adjustments.
Human Resources controls the salary offers at most organizations. HR now hires without even confirming salary with the manager or director. Yet, only five years ago I was able to look up years of service and skill-set to base the salary offer on a given applicant. Those days are now gone.
In the past, staff jumped around hospital to hospital for better pay. Staff would do a year or two at a facility and then move on to an equivalent position but with higher pay. Today staff are jumping around less. It is likely because of the stagnant salaries that are mentioned in this article.
This article interested me because I was recently laid off from a big healthcare organization in Texas. They too were downsizing like most healthcare organizations. My performance record was good, but I knew I came in at a higher wage than most managers. Being at the top of a salary cap does draw attention to yourself.
What I found interesting after being laid off was that bigger healthcare networks offered lower wages than what I was previously making. Not only was I taking on more responsibility, I was taking a pay cut at the same time. I knew then that things had changed. I changed my attitude and started interviewing for the right culture. If I was going to take a pay cut then I might as well work where there is a positive culture.
I am now employed with a great not-for-profit organization that expects me to lead staff spiritually. As a leader, I have changed the way I interview prospective employees. As the hiring director I now include staff in the hiring process. Staff are free to talk about the culture in the department. This is intended to give the applicant a clear picture of who we are and how we practice. I have no control over the salary offers but do have control over the culture. Retention rates are higher at facilities that have a positive culture, according to study data in the October 2013 issue of the American Journal of Health-System Pharmacy.
I have now filled my last nursing position. Both new applicants expressed that they took pay cuts but were pleased with the staffs engagement. The article only mentions moving for increased pay; one should also move because it is the right fit regardless of the pay. If they are paying higher wages, it is likely because [the employer] lacks strong leadership or culture. Do your research as an interviewee. Ask about turnover rates and administration involvement. Ask to speak with employees if possible. This will give you a better understanding why certain facilities are paying more.
I applaud the author for bringing up higher education as a means to moving up. The article does a great job identifying which nursing career paths will be in high demand within a few years. Remember, pay will follow as long as you are learning and enjoying yourself along the way.
Michael Quintanilla, RN, BSN, CNOR
Corpus Christi, Texas