On February 5th, 2018, I published a blog post focusing on the American Nurses Association (ANA) study of 6,000 nurses that was published in two parts in the November and December 2017 issues of American Nurse Today. In this episode of The Nurse Keith Show, we break down the numbers and help elucidate the state of the nursing profession exposed by the ANA survey results.

Nursing salaries and trends

You can see all the facts in the aforementioned blog post, but here are some interesting stats and excerpts to whet your appetite:

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.

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

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.

(On episode 147, we’ll explore the results of the survey related to self-care, incivility, lifestyle, and workplace environment.)


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Keith Carlson, RN, BSN, NC-BCKeith Carlson is a holistic career coach for nurses, award-winning nurse blogger, writer, podcaster, speaker, author, and popular career columnist. With two decades of nursing experience, Keith deeply understands the issues faced by 21st-century nurses.

Keith’s two podcasts, RNFM Radio and The Nurse Keith Show, offer inspiration and practical support to nurses seeking to create meaningful, satisfying lives and careers. Keith’s message of savvy career management and professional satisfaction reaches tens of thousands of nurses worldwide. Keith can be found on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram—as well as at NurseKeith.com.