Monday, February 05, 2018

Nursing Trends and the ANA -- Part 1 of 2

In the November and December 2017 issues of American Nurse Today, the ANA revealed the results of a survey of almost 6,000 nurses. This nursing survey explored the state of the profession in relation to trends in nursing salaries, the makeup of the nurse clinician workforce, and workplace culture and environment. Let's explore some of what they found -- we'll explore more in next week's blog post.

nursing salaries and trends

The ANA frequently utilizes significant data to analyze our profession, so diving into their findings can be quite elucidating.  If you're not a member of the American Nurses Association (ANA) and don't have a login to their website, you likely didn't see this information when it rolled out in the final months of 2017.

Nurse Managers

The ANA survey results showed that the majority (44%) of respondents have been in management between 1 and 10 years, with budgets of anywhere from $100,000 to $250,000. Half stated they were not eligible for any sort of bonus. Meanwhile, 60% said that recruiting nurses in the previous 12 months was quite difficult, and 18% actually had a certification in nursing leadership.

Nurse Clinicians

About 50% of those responding to the survey shared that they serve in a clinical role, and 10% were APRNs.

Interestingly, 82% of managers and 71% of clinicians worked the day shift only, and 13.5% worked night shift only. An additional 10% worked both days and nights. 40% regularly work 12-hour shifts. The majority of respondents work somewhere between 40 and 50 hours per week, with just under 8% working more than 60.

Nurse Salaries, Benefits, and Other Career Factors

59% of those answering the survey said their salary had increased as compared to the prior year. This may be surprising to some of us who view wages as fairly stagnant in many regions of the country. An additional 33% reported the same salary, and 8% a decrease in earnings.

Even more surprising is that 74% of respondents had received a raise in the year-and-a-half before the survey.

82% of nurses participating in the survey receive both paid time off and health insurance, which is reassuring. 75% receive employer contributions to their retirement funds, and about half enjoy some form of tuition or education reimbursement.

Some nurses receive differentials for shift work (47%), 36% earn more due to having a certification, and 26% earn extra by being a preceptor.

Here are some salary statistics: 
  • 6.9% earn less than $40k
  • 21.07% earn between $40k and $59k
  • 29.63% earn between $60k and $79k
  • 23.26% earn between $80k and $99k
  • 11.15% earn between $100k and $120k
  • 7.99% earn more than $120k
And here are the top 10 primary nursing specialties: 
  1. Medical/surgical
  2. Peri-op (OR, PACU)
  3. Critical care
  4. Psych/mental health
  5. Women's health/ob/gyn
  6. Pediatrics
  7. Cardiovascular
  8. Emergency nursing
  9. Academic education
  10. School nursing
In terms of retirement, 35% of nurse respondents plan to retire between 2018 and 2025 (which concurs with the aging of the general population). 40% plan to retire some time between their 61st and 65th birthdays, and 35% are considering working longer.

One big piece of data worthy of our attention: 87.2% would become a nurse again if given the chance to start over!

And the top three factors that nurse clinicians rated as the most valued aspects of their job:
  1. Salary
  2. Patient care
  3. Flexible hours
And here are some more interesting data points: 
  • 46% plan to stay in their current workplace for 5 years or more
  • Only 17.88% had been with their current employer for 6-10 years, while 34.36% had been with their current employer for 1 to 5 years
  • Respondents ranged from 20 to 89 years old
  • 40% had a BSN
  • 25% held an MSN
  • 6% had a PhD
  • 63% currently either in school or planning to return had their sights on a graduate degree
  • 18% planning on earning a BSN
  • 48% of nurse clinicians were certified in their specialty

Pulling It All Together

As we can see from this data set, a majority of nurses appear to be working a relatively normal amount of hours, enjoy decent benefits, are interested in specialty certification and educational advancement, and are earning a fair salary for their position.

The top 10 clinical specialties offer little surprise, although I was personally surprised that 71% of nurse clinicians work day shift only.

With more than one-third of all respondents planning to retire between 2018 and 2025, we're reminded of the following:
  • The utter importance of retaining younger nurses currently in the nursing workforce, as well as recruiting more
  • The need for succession planning and the mentoring of emerging generations of nurse leaders
  • Continuing to stress the benefits of furthering one's nursing education and seeking specialty certification
  • The fact that more than 80% of respondents would become a nurse again if given a chance to start over
This data brings me a sense of relief and a feeling that our profession is in many ways still on track for 21st-century success. However, I'm not a big fan of complacency, and we need to remain vigilant about protecting the scope of practice of our profession (especially APRNs), committing resources to nurturing new generations of nurse educators and academicians, as well as being politically and civically involved in our communities and the legislative process at home and in Washington, DC.

Nurses' voices are important, as is the place that we hold in society. We can leverage the public's trust by speaking up, speaking out, and being living examples of healthcare professionals who walk our talk and maintain the highest levels of professionalism.

The state of the nursing profession is relatively strong, yet an aging workforce, a shortage of nursing professors, intermittent nurse shortages in various regions, and a scourge of incivility and negative workplace environments will continue to challenge our profession. If other statistics are correct that up to 30% or more of new nurses leave the profession entirely within several years of entering the workforce, we certainly still have our work cut out for us, and it behooves us to pay close attention to such trends and head them off at the pass before they wreak havoc with our many successes.

(In next week's blog post, we'll explore the results of the survey related to self-care, incivility, lifestyle, and workplace environment.)


Keith Carlson, RN, BSN, NC-BC, is the Board Certified Nurse Coach behind and the well-known nursing blog, Digital Doorway. Please visit his online platforms and reach out for his support when you need it most.

Keith is co-host of, a wildly popular nursing podcast; he also hosts The Nurse Keith Show, his own podcast focused on career advice and inspiration for nurses.

A widely published nurse writer, Keith is the author of Savvy Networking For Nurses: Getting Connected and Staying Connected in the 21st Century and Aspire to be Inspired: Creating a Nursing Career That Matters. He has contributed chapters to a number of books related to the  nursing profession. Keith has written for,, MultiBriefs News Service, LPNtoBSNOnline, StaffGarden, AusMed, American Sentinel University, the ANA blog,, American Nurse Today, Working Nurse Magazine, and other online and print publications.

Mr. Carlson brings a plethora of experience as a nurse thought leader, keynote speaker, online nurse personality and social media influencer, podcaster, holistic career coach, writer, and well-known nurse entrepreneur. He lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico with his lovely and talented wife, Mary Rives, and his adorable and intelligent cat, George.

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