Our recent 2022 Nurse Salary Research Report shed light on nursing salaries during one the most unprecedented events in health care — the COVID-19 pandemic occurring amid an existing problematic nursing shortage crisis and a growing nurse gender pay gap.
A total of 2,516 qualified nurses successfully completed the survey between November 12, 2021, and December 12, 2021, from across the U.S.
The report showed that the median nurse salary in 2021 was $78,000 for RNs, $120,000 for APRNs and $48,000 for LPNs/LVNs. Compared to our 2020 results ($73,000 for RNs, $107,000 for APRNs, and $45,000 for LPNs/LVNs), this year’s survey showed a significant rise in salary.
The 2020 Nurse Salary Research Report found that male RNs earned almost $7,300 more than female RNs. However, the most recent report showed an increase in the gender pay gap, with male RNs earning $14,000 more — nearly doubling the former gender pay gap rate.
Understanding the Nurse Gender Pay Gap
While the nurse gender pay gap is disconcerting, it’s unfortunately not a new problem — one that is not specific to nurses in the healthcare space. A 2020 report from the American Association of University Women notes that at the current rate, the overall pay gap will exist until 2111, unless we accelerate progress.
The 2022 Nurse Salary Research Report revealed that the nurse gender pay gap significantly widened from $7,300 to $14,000 over the course of just a few years. A variety of factors could be fueling this disparity, such as clinical settings or higher acuity specialties that pay higher differentials.
The 2022 report also showed that men are more likely to negotiate their salary (40%), which could be one factor fueling the pay divide. According to our survey, 30% of nurse participants said they don’t negotiate their salary, and 31% of female RNs were less likely to negotiate salaries either always or most of the time.
Cara Lunsford, RN, Founder and CEO of HOLLIBLU and Vice President of Community at Relias, weighed in on the nurse gender pay gap and how to move forward.
“This is a time where it’s more important than ever for us to be very united and supportive of our nurse peers. It’s important that we acknowledge that these pay gaps have existed in almost every industry and, although we are making progress, the disparity in pay still exists and is something we still need to address when thinking about salary negotiation.”
Taking Steps To Close the Nurse Gender Pay Gap
Considering the history of the gender pay gap and its continued growth, changes are clearly needed in the healthcare industry. While many decisions require leadership’s initiative, there are steps nurses can take to help close the nurse gender pay gap in years to come:
- Don’t be afraid to negotiate for higher pay.
Many nurses accept an initial offer without negotiating a higher salary. Other nurses who are otherwise satisfied in their careers (and on their unit, team, etc.) might not want to be perceived as negative or unappreciative for asking for higher pay. The demand for nurses has increased for many reasons, including retiring nurses, staffing shortages, and higher care needs as the population ages, which place nurses at an advantage to negotiate for higher salaries.
- Research available data to share and compare salaries.
The internet has armed nurses with a plethora of available data and places to communicate with other nurses. Tapping into nursing communities on social media or job sites are great resources to share and compare salaries.
- Discuss the gender pay gap with your leadership.
During an initial interview is a great time to let leadership know you’re aware of the nurse gender pay gap. Healthcare leaders should be aware of the issue and be willing to address it in their organization. Be direct about your concerns during interviews or performance reviews.
- Learn which positions offer higher pay and why.
If you’re interested in increasing your salary and willing to switch roles, take the time to understand which units/positions offer higher pay and why. Is more experience or education required? Knowing which resources are required will help you get there faster.
- Choose an organization that values equity and transparency.
While a higher salary might draw you in initially, choosing an organization that prioritizes equity and transparency will likely pay off in the long run. Leadership that understands and addresses what matters to nurses is key. Look for organizations that are thoughtful in their approach to staff support. Flexibility, education, and support can end up better-serving you and your practice more than a slightly higher salary.
The Promise of Nursing Now
This is a remarkable time to be a nurse. While it’s challenging and sometimes traumatizing, it is also so rewarding. And for many nurses, they can’t imagine doing anything else. Nurses instinctively prioritize patient safety, almost always putting others first. It should not be an added burden on nurses to ensure they’re paid fairly, and yet the nurse gender pay gap has widened.
The demand for nurses has increased and is projected to increase over the next decade. Current and future nurses are in positions to prioritize what matters most to them and ask for it. Information is power, much like communication and transparency. Leveraging data, such as the insights shared in this salary report, can serve as a resource for you to understand effective ways you can further your career and as a guide to understand disparities and inequities in salary across the nursing profession, giving you awareness to address those concerns.
For additional insights download and review our 2022 Nurse Salary Research Report.
Gender pay gaps have a lot to do with mothers wanting to spend time with their children. If you compare the average pay of single men & single women there is no gap. After marriage & children, men usually earn more & women usually earn less in order to spend time with children. Men want to $upport the family. Is this a bad thing? What’s more important than raising the next generation?
Gender pay gap is real but there are many factors that influence this disparity beyond gender. Only looking at this from gender is a VERY low resolution look at at multifactoral problem
I enjoyed the article, and I was glad that the possible variables for the salary difference were explored. The original survey also mentioned that male nurses worked more overtime and more night shift positions which results in a night shift differential pay. However I do not like the article’s eye grabbing and controversial title which is misleading. As a male nurse myself I can assure there is respect and equality in the nursing profession.
” 2, 516 qualified nurses …completed the survey” – Is there any reason to think that this survey can legitimately generalized to some larger population such as American RNs? Ordinarily, one must either have a sample representative of the population to which one hopes to generalize, or at least to have respondents selected at random. Using respondents to a survey ordinarily does not meet the requirements for generalizability.
Thank you for your information and passion for nurses. I am studying to become an LPN.
I am sick of men outpacing women in a basically female profession which is why I left. It is the fault of the nurses who as women are afraid to open their mouths. Not all RN’s but the majority of them
We can make the same salary as men doing the same job. All of the hospitals want men today and will pay, especially in the Emergency Room. How did the female nurses manage all this time without men?
As an ER nurse for 40 years, I dealt with many instances of patient conflict helped by my female colleagues. You can still be compassionate and earn equal salaries with equal education and experience.
Wake up RNs and stand up for yourselves.
Is this common practice? Other than a hospital in Louisiana, every other hospital has had a set rate that pays you according to how many years you have been a nurse, and how many years you have worked for that hospital. No pay differences between male and female RNs.
Frustrating that it is broken down so simply. Yes, men negotiate for higher pay-not the man’s fault. Teach nurses assertive communication. Assertive not aggressive. Woman also take maternity leave and the man continues to work. Men are more likely to do overtime. I know I did when raising kids. Men work more hours. Men get higher tech nursing jobs which pay more. None of this is the man’s fault or due to the “patriarchy”. This is true for society at large as well.
Does this take into consideration working holidays and overtime?
Short-sighted view of a multi-variate issue. I’m a CRNA and my female counterparts make the exact same pay as I do. There are actually female CRNAs making MORE than myself and we work for the same group. Want to know why?? Because they work 10-hour shifts, take more call than me, work more extra shifts than me, etc. My male colleagues who do the same work as they do make similar money (some more, some less). It all depends on how much you want to work and what shifts you take. This issue is NOT the problem you and others make it out to be. Stop using uni-variate analysis to discuss a multi-variate issue!