2009 Salary Survey Results

New year, but the same story: Salaries of clinicians show little pay rate increase

Networking on local, national level key to finding new jobs

Does your paycheck seem to go a little less far these days? No surprise. Results of the Contraceptive Technology Update Salary Survey indicate that 38% saw a 1%-3% increase in salary in the past year, with 40% seeing no change. (See "In the past year, how has your salary changed?" graphic below.)

The survey was mailed in August 2009 to 582 subscribers with 114 responses, for a response rate of 19.6%.

If you are contemplating a possible job change, perform a self-assessment of your professional status, says Lynn Schiff, FNP, president and CEO of Advanced Practice Solutions, Lake Elmo, MN, a recruitment agency (www.advancedpracticesolutions.com). For example, about 32% of survey respondents hold graduate degrees, and almost 27% have worked in their present field for 25-plus years. (See "What is your highest academic degree?" below, and "How long have you worked in your present field?" graphic below.) About 35% say they supervise between four and 10 people. (See "How many people do you supervise, directly or indirectly?" graphic below.)

Once you have performed the assessment, determine what you are seeking in a new position. Figure out what is of most importance to you, such as flexibility, autonomy, salary, and benefits.

Next, begin to network, says Schiff. Networking is proving to be an effective tool, particularly in the current economy, she notes. Call your colleagues to let them know you are contemplating a possible relocation, she advises. Lunch provides an informal setting so job information can be shared, Schiff says.

How to promote yourself

Raise your visibility in the community, she advises. Some ambitious nurse practitioners and physician assistants have volunteered for community services to get their names circulating, Schiff observes. Such self-promotion is particularly important for new graduates who are just breaking into the job market, she says.

Look to national professional groups, such as the National Association of Nurse Practitioners in Women's Health (NPWH), for employment help. Such membership might not only help in securing a new job, but aid in bolstering your net worth to "recession-proof" your current position, says Susan Wysocki, RNC, NP, NPWH president and CEO. NPWH keeps its members current on changing rules with regard to certification, licensure issues, and federal reimbursement.

"I have received many calls from NPs who are no longer employable because they never were certified or they let their certification lapse and were unaware of the importance of national certification," says Wysocki. "Now a new employer requires national certification."

NPWH also monitors and comments on federal legislation to ensure that women's health nurse practitioners are included as primary care providers in federal legislation, says Wysocki. The organization also continues to fight for NPs to be paid the same as physicians, regardless of specialty, for the same services in Medicare reimbursement. Most important, NPWH looks to protect and promote health care to women by advocating that women receive the services they need and that those services are adequately compensated, says Wysocki.

Professional organizations such as NPWH (www.npwh.org), the American College of Nurse Midwives (www.midwife.org), and the American Academy of Physician Assistants (www.aapa.org) offer job banks for their memberships. If you are looking for a new job, professional membership might pay off by allowing you to search such databases.

Look for a recruitment firm that knows the positions well enough to determine whether you will be a good match for its employers, says Schiff. All firms are not created equal, she says. Make sure the firm you choose does not charge a candidate fee, Schiff says.

Longevity in the field is an important aspect when assessing a potential recruitment firm. Look for a firm that has been around for at least three years and one that understands the specialized skills you bring to the table.

"Nurse practitioners should look for firms that have been around for a long time and especially give that personalized attention," says Schiff. "Look for firms that will really take the time to get to know you as a candidate and know what your needs are."

Salary Survey at a Glance

  • Half of the 2009 survey respondents identified themselves as nurse practitioners. 20% identified themselves as registered nurses, and 4% identified themselves as nurse-midwives. Administrators made up about 17% of the current year's responses. About 7% identified themselves as physicians, with about 2% identified as health educators.
  • About 38% of all respondents indicated they made $59,000 or less. About half reported salaries between $59,000 and $99,999. About 12% said they earned a six-figure salary. (See "What is your annual gross income from your primary care position?" graphic below.)
  • About half of 2009 survey respondents said no changes had been made in job staffing levels. About 36% reported a decrease in employees, with 14% seeing more employees on site.
  • Working overtime is not an issue for the majority of survey respondents. About 72% report working 40 hours or less a week. (See "How many hours a week do you work?" graphic below.)
  • 56% of survey respondents said they work in a health department setting, while 25% say they are employed by a clinic.
  • 42% described their practice location as rural, with 26% in an urban location, and 20% in a medium-sized city.

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