Nursing Wages Are on the Rise as Healthcare Providers Scramble To Balance Their Budgets

As the economy continues to recover from the recent recession, different industries are starting to see drastic changes in their hiring procedures and in employee compensation, and the world of nursing is no exception.

Turnover among nurses is increasing, up 2 percent according to HCA, the largest hospital operator by revenue in the U.S. More nurses are moving on to different higher paying jobs as educational opportunities improve, or leaving the field altogether.

This is not entirely due to job dissatisfaction, but more due to changes in the ways that nurses are managed and compensated. Just about every position in the medical field is in higher demand than ever before as the nation’s largest generation, the baby boomers, is finally entering retirement. Alongside this, the Affordable Care Act has led to a huge increase in patient volume for hospitals across the country.

The result is that nurses are in higher demand than ever before. They are absolutely essential in addressing the growing number of patients, and wages have risen in response. However, not all hospitals have followed suit, many because their budgets simply cannot handle the increase. Providence Health and Services out of Renton, Washington reported that they spent $85 million more than they expected in labor costs and were forced to use contract labor to fill some of their open positions.

The higher turnover rate among nurses is a direct result of administrative strife related to managing their rising wages and the mass retirement of the boomers. It may be some time before hospitals are able to fully adjust to the sudden influx of patients. However, once the dust has settled and hospital budgets can be appropriately adjusted, nurses will still be in high demand. As wages continue to rise, students entering the nursing field can expect to find extremely competitive offers from employers.

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