Survey Reveals Healthcare Salaries on Rise, But More Is Needed to Retain Employees

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The U.S. healthcare industry is feeling the staffing pinch with a growing and aging population that requires more care and has greater access to it than ever before. Despite the creation of 475,000 new healthcare jobs in 2015 to handle this growth (according to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data), there’s still a shortage of key positions, making it a job-seeker’s market.

Health eCareers™, the healthcare industry’s online career hub, today released its annual Healthcare Salary Guide, based on a survey involving nearly 20,000 healthcare professionals. The results show that 87% are making more or the same as a year ago, yet nearly half are actively looking for better opportunities and their confidence is high.

The Retention Dilemma
Of those studied, 29% said they anticipate changing employers in the next year, 30% have no plans to change and 41% are unsure. What’s more, 86% are confident they could find a new position. The top reasons given for seeking new employment were higher pay, more rewarding and challenging work, better working hours and wanting to work for a different organization.

Despite the intensely competitive hiring market, employers are falling short in motivating employees to stay. While 61% offer some type of incentive to retain employees, this represents just a 1% increase from last year, and 39% offer no motivator at all.

“Healthcare employers have an opportunity to sway those 41% who are on the fence about leaving,” said Bryan Bassett, Health eCareer’s Managing Director. “It’s not just about higher pay. They could be incented with more rewarding or challenging tasks, or by retooling their work hours.”

How Average Salaries Have Shifted
Ten out of the 14 studied positions saw salary increases over the past year, but some were more sizeable than others, and key positions such as nursing actually saw a drop.

Average annual salaries by position compared to 2015 data:

  • Physicians and surgeons  – $255,648, a 2.5% increase
  • Healthcare executives – $134,632, a 12.9% decrease
  • Physician assistants – $105,856, a 4.3% increase
  • Nurse practitioners – $100,549, a 5.3% increase
  • Healthcare IT – $91,251, a 2.2% increase
  • Nurses – $61,875, a 3.1% decrease

The positions that reported the largest year-over-year salary increases were academics/research, administrative/operations and allied health. Healthcare executives and pharmacy saw the biggest decrease this year.

“It struck us that NPs and PAs received a higher pay bump than physicians,” said Bassett. “This could, at least in part, be attributed to the physician shortage, which is causing healthcare providers to hire NPs and PAs in larger numbers, and having to pay them more to be competitive.”

Where employees live also plays a role in their pay. Physicians in California are paid nearly $40,000 more a year than theirFlorida counterparts, and nurses in New York are paid over $7,000 more than those in Colorado.

Salary and Job Satisfaction Is So-So
Health eCareers found healthcare professionals have varying levels of satisfaction with their current pay and jobs. Forty-five percent are satisfied with their salaries, 14% are neutral and 41% are dissatisfied. When it comes to their jobs and employers, 57% report being happy, but a sizeable 43% are actively looking for better opportunities.

Among nurses, only 44% are satisfied with their salaries.  The main drivers of dissatisfaction are that salaries don’t reflect experience or are lower than similar jobs in the region. Seventeen percent are happy and plan to stay in their current jobs, but 13% are actively looking elsewhere.

Physician assistants are the most satisfied with their salary and current position – 60% are happy about their pay and 27% said they are “very happy” in their current jobs.

Physicians and surgeons are happier than nurses, but less so than PAs. More than half (52%) are content with their salaries, and 20% plan to stay with their current employer. Those who are dissatisfied pointed to pay that is below similar positions and being required to work uncompensated hours.

Learn more by downloading Health eCareers’ 2016 Healthcare Salary Guide and trying out the new Healthcare Salary Calculator at healthecareers.com/salary.

About the Survey
The Health eCareers 2016 Salary Guide is a comprehensive resource on compensation and employment trends in the healthcare industry. Responses were collected via a survey of 19,754 healthcare job seekers from the Health eCareers database in January and February 2016. Survey participants were comprised of nurses (20%), administrative/operations (19%), physicians and surgeons (10%), nurse practitioners (7%), physician assistants (5%), allied health professionals (5%), radiologic technologists/medical imaging professionals (5%), counselors/social services (4%), pharmacy professionals (3%), healthcare IT professionals (3%) and other healthcare professionals. Eighty-five percent of respondents currently work full time, 8% work part time, 6% are per diem or contract, 4% have irregular hours or on call, and 3% are unemployed.

Compensation findings are based off of base salary and hourly wage, and compensation information is only provided where a sample size of at least 100 exists.

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