Nurses Paychecks Got Fatter in 2005

November 9, 2005 ( - Pay for nursing positions requiring specialized skill sets climbed most sharply over the last year, according to a new survey.

A Mercer Human Resource Consulting news release about its Integrated Health Networks (IHN) Compensation Survey said the poll found that pay for most nursing positions showed steady growth.

An infection control nurse saw a 6.6% bump in base pay since January 1. In addition, base pay for a nurse anesthetist climbed 6.6%, as well. By comparison, overall base pay hikes for all jobs across all industries averaged approximately 3.6% in 2005, according to other Mercer research.

“The rapid pay movement for these positions reflects the tight market for nursing jobs, especially in areas requiring specialized skills, and the high turnover rate,” said Jose Pagoaga, a senior consultant at Mercer who specializes in compensation and rewards for health care organizations, in the news release. “Labor shortages typically trigger market adjustments in pay, and hospitals and health systems need to be cognizant of that to attract and retain nurses.”

Other positions in nursing and patient care that saw strong pay growth in 2005 include (along with their increases over 2004):

  • Nurse shift supervisor (6.1%)
  • Nurse practitioner (5.8%)
  • Nurse manager (4.4%)

Geographic Differences

Mercer’s IHN survey shows the differences in pay among different health care settings and locations. For example, a Registered Nurse – II (a nurse with one to eight years of experience) can expect median base pay of $26.84 per hour in an urban setting versus $25.03 per hour in a rural setting.

From a geographic perspective, hospitals on the West Coast provide the highest pay level for a Registered Nurse – II (median base pay of $35.93 per hour), followed by the northeastern region ($28.02 per hour) and north central region ($26.63 per hour). Hospitals in the south central and southeastern regions provide the lowest pay levels ($25.77 and $23.94 per hour, respectively).

The 2005 edition of Mercer’s annual IHN survey includes responses from more than 1,150 hospitals, health systems, and health plans across theUS.

To order a copy of the study, go here . A free registration is required.