Salaries Are Up: 6 Things to Know

Publish Date: December 11, 2019

Tracking your paycheck potential is an important way to know how your compensation compares to the national average. It also shows nurses who are looking ahead to professional development which areas for professional growth are reaping the highest return on investment.

Here’s a look at six notable findings from AORN’s just released 2019 Salary Survey results:

  1. Compensation is Up

    Overall, base compensation increased this year, with staff nurses across the US averaging over $1,000 more and nurse leaders averaging over $5,000 more than 2018 reported salaries. Nurses working on the West Coast and Northeast US regions continue to have the highest base salaries. Related to job tasks, for each 10% increase in time spent on managerial tasks, a manager earned $215 more annually.

  2. Education Makes a Difference

    Nurses with higher levels of education earned more. Advanced education garnered the biggest bumps, including master’s and doctoral degrees. In comparing types of master’s degrees, nurses with an MBA earned slightly more ($7,700) than nurses with a master’s degree in a different subject area who earned $5,300 more. Nurses with a bachelor’s degree earned $3,800 more, while nurses with a doctoral degree averaged $12,800 more in annual compensation.

  3. Staffing Shortages Persist, Impacting Patient Care

    The 2019 survey results show a 5% increase in nurse manager reported nurse staffing shortages. Overall, 68% of respondents reported having at least one position open and said open positions average six months before being filled. For the 2019 survey, more specific questions regarding patient care impacted by the shortage were asked—46% of respondents said no patient care effects tied to the shortage have been experienced, while 43% of respondents said the nurse shortage has impacted patient care through cancelled or delayed procedures. Some facilities also noted near miss and adverse events as a result of their nursing shortage.

  4. Employee Referral Bonuses and Four Other Benefits Increase

    Comparing survey data between 2019 and 2013 to 2015, coverage of benefits increased 8% for employee referral bonuses and a 1% increase was noted for other benefits including dental insurance, tuition reimbursement, incentive bonuses and retention bonuses. Some other benefits were found to decrease from 2019 when compared to 2013 to 2015, including a 10% decrease in 401(k) contributions, a 6% decrease for paid conference travel and a 4% decrease for earned time or paid time off and flexible scheduling.

  5. Satisfied Nurses Make More Money

    Data analysis of the survey results adjusted to understand any correlation between satisfaction and compensation found a $1,400 increase related to satisfaction. For example, a nurse who reported being satisfied with his or her role earned $1,400 more per year than a nurse who reported being only somewhat satisfied. Among survey respondents who reported being satisfied with their nursing role, the majority said the job itself was their source of satisfaction followed by satisfaction with the respondent’s nurse coworkers. Management was the most frequently reported reason for dissatisfaction.

  6. Burnout Is a Concern

    Each year the survey asks for open comments and several respondents voiced concern about on-call requirements and frequency. One nurse noted that senior nursing staff are” facing burnout from constantly training and picking up shifts from people who leave.” Around 28% of surveyed nurses said they were likely or somewhat likely to leave their position, the same percentage as reported in the 2018 survey, with the main reason being dissatisfaction with their work environment and culture.

Find all results from 2019 AORN salary survey in the December issue of AORN Journal.


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