2007 Salary Sruvey Results

Salary snapshot: Family planning providers see very little increase in 2007 paychecks

Explore options to open up career opportunities in health care field

When payday rolls around in your office, are envelopes met with grins or grimaces? For providers in family planning, 2007 proved to bring fewer smiles on the salary scene. More than 50% (56%) of respondents to the 2007 Contraceptive Technology Update Salary Survey reported a 1%-3% increase, with less than 20% bringing in a 4%-6% increase. About 18% noted no change in pay. (See "What is Your Salary Level" graphic below, as well as "In the past year, how has your salary changed?" below.)

When analyzed by profession, salaries showed little change from 2006 figures. Median salaries for nurse practitioners (NPs) grew slightly from $62,500 to $64,078, while pay for registered nurses dropped from $49,545 to $45,500. Administrators reported a median salary of $67,096, slightly less than 2006's $71,667 figure. Nurses and administrators comprise about 82% of the current year's responses. About 8% identified themselves as physicians, with 4% as nurse-midwives, about 3% as physician assistants, and 2% as health educators. The survey was mailed in July 2007 to 1,474 subscribers with 146 responses, for a response rate of 9.9%.

Family planning providers may not be keeping up with others in their profession when it comes to salary matters. Average annual full-time salary for a nurse practitioner reached $74,812 in 2005, an 8.1% increase over the average in 2003, according to a national nurse practitioner survey. A similar gain is expected in upcoming results scheduled to be released in 2008.1

For physicians, obstetricians/gynecologists saw an income drop from $215,000 to $210,000 from 2004 to 2005, according to a national report.2 They are not alone; primary care physicians recorded a 10% inflation-adjusted decline in income between 1995 and 2003, according to the Center for Studying Health System Change.2

A 2005 snapshot compiled by the American College of Nurse-Midwives shows a $70,000 median salary for the profession.3 Mean income for full-time clinically practicing physician assistants increased from $81,129 to $84,396 from 2005 to 2006, states the American Academy of Physician Assistants.4

More providers on way

New faces soon may appear in your office. The American Association of Colleges of Nursing, working with the National Organization of Nurse Practitioner Faculties, reports that 7,197 potential nurse practitioners were prepared to enter the work force after July 31, 2006.5 These graduates were those who had completed master's-level nurse practitioner programs, NP certificate programs, or post-master's NP programs. This trend is set to continue: In 2006, NP program enrollments increased 14%, and graduations increased 10%.5

News of fresh troops will be welcomed in family planning clinics. Almost 60% of CTU salary survey respondents said they were age 50 or older. About 30% said they had worked in their present field for 22 years or more. (See "How Long Have You Worked in Your Present Field?" below.)

Ready for a change?

What if you are ready for a change, but not in the range for retirement? If you are a nurse practitioner, you may consider establishing an independent practice. According to Carolyn Zaumeyer, NP, author of How to Start an Independent Practice — The Nurse Practitioner's Guide to Starting a Successful Business (Davis, 2003), more NPs are looking at this career option. (For more information on Zaumeyer's book, see her web site, www.independentnp.com.)

When Zaumeyer first started speaking about independent practice in 1995, three years after she began her own business, she says there was interest in the idea. However, it seemed out of reach for many. That situation has now changed, Zaumeyer reports.

"Over the years, my audience has changed to many NPs who have established independent practice, as well as many that are seriously considering the possibilities," notes Zaumeyer. "To be able to practice autonomously in an environment that you create and control is very appealing to many NPs."

Put your skills to work

What skills do nurse practitioners bring to the table when it comes delivering quality women's health care? Zaumeyer should know: When she sold her practice, Women's Health Watch in Fort Lauderdale, FL, she had more than 4,000 female patients ranging from age 7 to 88.

NP training in physical assessment, diagnostic skills, and listening/communication is key, says Zaumeyer. Delivery of patient education clearly is a plus, she states. Nurse practitioners are taught to look at the "whole package," assessing family, environment, work situations, stress levels, and other factors in combination with the patient's health, she notes.

Don't step over boundaries

In beginning an independent practice, nurse practitioners need to consider their scope of practice and legal limitations, says Zaumeyer.

"We are not doing anyone any favors, to the patients or for ourselves, in stepping over our boundaries," she notes. "We must have a clear understanding of the state laws and regulations."

Having a good referral network of providers in the area is key, Zaumeyer advises. Know when and to whom to refer to and do it, she states.

Do your homework

What are some key objectives NPs need to have in hand before considering establishment of an independent practice?

Start with a thorough self-assessment, says Zaumeyer. Ask, do you:

  • really want this?
  • feel professionally ready?
  • have any business experience?
  • have the support of your family?
  • work well alone, or are you better in a group environment?

Making the decision to start your own practice is not to be taken lightly, advises Zaumeyer. Evaluate the following before making the commitment to independent practice:

  • Perform a self-assessment.
    Review your personal, professional, financial, family, business knowledge, and support factors.
  • Develop research and planning.
    Establish the need for your practice, and develop a list for start-up costs, location, and other items.
  • Analyze your potential practice.
    Do your homework when it comes to financial income vs. expenses, marketing, and collaboration, Zaumeyer advises.

References

  1. Tumolo J, Rollet J. 2005 Salary survey results: A place at the table. ADVANCE 2006; 14:34-36, 38-40.
  2. Tolkoff M. Exclusive earnings survey: How are you doing? Med Econ 2006; 83:74-76, 78-80, 82-83.
  3. American College of Nurse-Midwives. Selected Results of ACNM Compensation & Benefits Survey. Accessed at: www.midwife.org.
  4. American Academy of Physician Assistants. Physician Assistant Income: Changes in Inflation-Adjusted Total Annual Income from Primary Employer 2005-2006 and 2006-2007. Accessed at: www.aapa.org.
  5. Lebo S, Rollet J. AACN releases nurse practitioner graduation data. ADVANCE 2007; 15:14.