Earnings of RNs Home Page                                                         Why Nurses Leave the Bedside; A Bedside RN's perspective
Earnings Stats
What RNs say about their work and Earnings
What The Industry says about RNs and Earnings
Global RN earnings
Table of Contents

Relevant links within these pages.

    Causes fueling the Alpha Factors
    Identification of the Alpha Factors
    RNs and Management's Views of the Alpha Factors

RN earnings have been identified in these pages as one of the  causative factors fueling the shortage

"According to standard economic theory, shortages only arise if the price, or in this case wage, is prevented from rising. By this view, if there are not enough nurses to fill all the vacancies then it is due to the fact that employers are not willing to pay the market wage.It is interesting that Congress feels the need to intervene in the labor market for nurses, keeping their wages down by increasing the supply of nurses. In the case of doctors, it took the opposite path. It deliberately restricted the number of students that go to medical school and the number of foreign doctors that are allowed to enter residency programs in the United States in order to keep the wages of doctors from falling. The average wage of doctors is currently about $200,000 a year, more than four times the average pay of nurses. Since doctors' salaries in the US average more than twice the level of western Europe (the wages of nurses are comparable), by this measure there is a much more serious shortage of doctors than nurses."
Economic Reporting Review    January 2, 2002.  By Dean Baker, co-Director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research. This is Mr. Baker's Review of the article The Labor Market. Congress Acts to Stem National Nursing Shortage  by Juliet Eilperin which appeared in the Washington Post, December 22, 2001, Page A4] 

Nursing is often referred to as a calling, and nursing organizations will sometimes say nurses are "not about money". Management will imply or say directly that nurses "recognize they are a service force" implying nurses sign on for low pay when they sign into nursing school.  When expressed by nursing itself, often in an effort to garner support for legislative change regarding environment [ the other alpha factor]  these sentiments appear to be utilized to make the profession appear pure and dignified, selfless as well as reasonable, aware of complicated economic factors driven by  finite currency; It reinforces the image of nursing as service oriented and the holder of high moral ground. But this is not the entire truth and we are not fully served with this presentation; in fact we are hurt by it. Not only have nurses never been paid sufficiently for the work [see history of nursing] , wage adjustments in previous shortages meant to lessen their impact have been quickly undermined in years following thus reinforcing the underlying alpha factors allowing the shortage to again take hold. The modest wage adjustments occuring in the shortage of the 80s quickly eroded-Nurses  lost income in the decade following. It is clear that the industry has not been able to respond to the market force, and claims inability to do so. Only the solution to alpha factor two will address this very fundamental aspect of the nursing shortage.