It’s crazy how mixed-up our society is when doctors, nurses, and teachers are paid their current wages, while football and basketball players are making millions of dollars playing a sport that they enjoy. Sure, sports are a big part of our society, but the disparity in pay between a person that plays a recreational activity and someone that can save your life is hard to swallow. Some may even argue that the pay that doctors receive compared to nurses is too much of a disparity in how much work the nurses do for the doctors. In this essay, I’ll discuss the arguments why nurses should be paid more. Simple supply and demand laws suggest that with the high demand there is for nurses, they should be much better compensated than they currently are.
The nursing profession requires a lot of flexibility, and with that nurses can work in a variety of conditions and environments, and flexibility should equate better pay. Finally, with the amount of time that nurses spend with patients compared to that of physicians, there should be a narrowing in the gap in pay between doctors and nurses. Although many people, including doctors, feel that nurses are overpaid, however, nurses should be paid more due to the amount of risk that they are put in daily, also because they work directly with their patients, they are able to make many of the recommendations for the patient’s care.
After the close of World War II, there was a ‘boom’ of population growth in the United States as sailors and soldiers returned home from the war effort and started families. Now, seventy years later the children of that generation are beginning to retire, and as life would have it, expiring. With so many people requiring end-of-life care or those that are dealing with chronic medical conditions, there is a growing trend in health care, and that is demand. With the dramatic increase in patients requiring aid, there are many hospitals and care facilities that are having a difficult time finding the help needed to care for those patients.
“According to Statistics (the United States) medium growth demographic projections, the population’s share of seniors will grow sharply, from approximately 16 percent in 2014 to around 23 percent in 2030” (Blomqvist, 2014). This means that there will be a dramatic increase in patients entering the hospital scene. “An increase in citizen demand for health services will result in a reduction in supply and an increase in demand and with it an excess of demand that translates itself into longer waiting times” (Rodríguez-Álvarez, 2017) as well as in nursing demand. That increase in patient load will increase nursing demand.
However, if there are not enough nurses to fill those roles, people will still require care, which will require nurses to take on a larger patient load, or may require them to work overtime shifts. The increase in patients will also increase the amount of money that hospitals receive, which should call for an increase in nursing wages, but that is yet to be determined. If nurses are not compensated for the increased demand for either patient load or hours, there could be a major issue with more and more nurses facing burnout, leading to many nurses changing their occupations.
Good nurses have an uncanny ability to show flexibility in their workplace environment. Whether it comes to responsibilities, patient load, working hours, or patient acuity, nurses must be flexible because there are so many variables to consider with each of these. Nurses are assigned the primary role of caregiver, but for them to perform their job well, they must become more than that. Nurses must also take on the role of the decision maker, critical thinking is a must within the profession and they must use it to set goals and promote outcomes for their patients.
Communication is another key role that nurses must play. It is the nurse’s responsibility to pass on any pertinent medical or social information to the physician to aid in the healing process. Some of the other roles that nurses play are, patient advocate, instructor, and researcher. Nurses also have to work in a variety of environments, from labor and delivery to hospice care, some work in clinics, and others work in graveyards in the intensive care unit.
Each and every location requires critical thinking on the nurse’s part, as patients put their trust, and sometimes their lives in their nurse’s hands. Also, once a nurse graduates and passes their NCLEX, that is only the beginning of the learning process for them. Nurses, like doctors, are required to maintain their certification and must earn continuing education credits, so that they can keep up with the ever-changing world of medicine. All of this can be very demanding on the nurse and merits modest compensation for their efforts.
“In 2016, the average salary of a specialist doctor … was $403,000, with radiologists leading the way with close to $700,000” (Coallier, 2018), while your everyday physician makes around $196,000 (Jobs, n.d.). In comparison, the average wage for nurses in the United States is under $68,000 (Registered Nurse RN Salary, 2018). That is a considerable gap in pay, especially when considering how the nurse’s scope of practice is getting bigger and bigger with the demand that is being placed on the health care system.
According to a study coordinated by Cindy Sikora, “nurses, from baccalaureate to APNs, must be prepared to assume … expanded roles in health care reform by providing quality, access, and value” (Sickora, 2014). While the nurse’s role continues to expand, the role of the provider is diminishing, so the doctor’s argument for receiving the pay that they get being the amount of responsibility they hold no longer rings true because that responsibility is slowly being transferred over to the role of the nurse.
Nurses also spend much more of their time directly working with patients, and because of the amount of time spent with their patients, they can pass on invaluable information to the doctors regarding the patient’s health status. That level of communication can prove to be vital when a patient’s life is on the line. With the roles shifting in such a way, as well as the amount of direct patient care that nurses have the patient, the pay gap between nurses and doctors should be narrowed, with nurses making more, and physicians making less.
As the future generation of workers contemplates what they want to do to sustain themselves and their families over the ensuing decades, the pay for nurses must increase if the healthcare industry wants to be able to keep up with the ever-growing demand for nurses. With inflation continuing to climb, and student debt reaching all-time highs, people want to enter a field of work that can offer them a chance to live “the American Dream,” which is seemingly more and more elusive as time goes on. Living in a society that overconsumes, the desire to attain wealth to quench the insatiable thirst for ‘want’, people require employment in an occupation that can provide for their wants and needs.
So, if the nursing community wants to not only retain the current staff but increase their numbers to meet the growing demand, there must be an increase in nursing wages. Nursing pay should also reflect the amount of responsibility that nurses are being given to avert burnout. We must also see a narrowing in the disparity of pay between nurses and physicians. With the desire that many people have to help others in need, I believe that if nurses received what they felt to be enough of a pay increase, there would be an influx of nursing students across the country. The growing demand for nurses would easily be met.