2004 Salary Survey Results

Family planning providers hold the line in salary and staffing levels in 2004

Slight increases seen in pay, and most providers say staffing has remained steady

Good news for family planning providers: Salary levels are reflecting a modest increase in 2004, according to the results of the annual Contraceptive Technology Update salary survey. (See "What is Your Salary Level?", and "In the Past Year, How Has Your Salary Changed?") The survey was mailed in July 2004 to 1,247 subscribers and had a response of 229, for a response rate of 18.36%.

Average salary for nurse practitioners (NPs) rose to $55,265 in 2004, up from $51,472 in 2003, according to the 2004 results. Median salaries for this group also moved up to $55,465, climbing from 2003’s $52,368 level. The gain in pay offsets a decline in salaries reported in 2003; NPs had recorded slight increases in their paychecks in 2001 and 2002. Nurse practitioners represent almost half (41.92%) of the 2004 responses.

"It is encouraging that salaries are going up," says Susan Wysocki, RNC, NP, president and chief executive officer of the Washington, DC-based National Association of Nurse Practitioners in Women’s Health.

When it comes to pay, location and place of employment can make a difference in compensation, she reports. About half (45.41%) of CTU responses came from those working in health departments, while another 24% said they were employed in a clinic setting. When analyzed by geographic location, 35% of CTU responses came from the Southeast, with about 23% from the Midwest and 21% from the Southwest. Jobs in Southeastern public health settings typically record lower levels of pay, Wysocki notes.

Other groups also recorded upward movement on the compensation front, according to the CTU annual report: Administrators reported a median salary of $60,000, compared with 2003’s $59,000 figure, while registered nurses (RNs) recorded a median salary of $53,725, climbing from $42,000 in 2003. Nurses comprised about 28% of the 2004 responses, while administrators represented about 17% of the total number. Physicians, nurse midwives, and health educators each were about 3% of the 2004 responses, with physician assistants at 2%.

Work hard for the money

Productivity may be a key component when it comes to compensation at your facility. Such attention has impacted pay, particularly for physicians: 2003 was the third consecutive year that increases in production outpaced increases in compensation, according to the Denver-based Medical Group Management Association.1

According to the association, OB/GYNs recorded a five-year compensation increase of 8.3%, while their charges grew by 15.5% during the same period. With rising costs and declining reimbursements, providers are working harder for the same amount of money or are taking home less pay.1

"I suspect that this is also true for nurse practitioners, that the expectation is that clients have to be served," says Wysocki.

About 40% of CTU survey respondents say staffing levels have remained steady in the past year, while about 22% report employee increases. About 30% say employee numbers have dropped in 2004. More workers are putting a little extra time in the office: About 21% say they worked 41-45 hours per week in 2004, compared to about 14% in 2003. (See "How Many Hours a Week Do You Work?") About half of respondents say they worked an average 31-40 hours per week. Supervisory duties have changed somewhat for providers; about 42% of respondents say they supervise one to three people. Sixty percent registered similar numbers in the 2003 survey. (See "How Many People Do You Supervise?")

What motivates you when it comes to staying in your current job? The rewards of working in family planning cannot be measured in just monetary compensation, sources say.

"One of the best things about being a nurse-midwife is the ability to work in settings that provide family planning, gynecology, and/or maternity care," says Deanne Williams, CNM, MS, executive director of the Silver Spring, MD-based American College of Nurse-Midwives (ACNM). "This flexibility is very attractive for those who are committed to providing compassionate health care to women while still balancing their career and family needs."

There is job stability for those who work in public health; about 60% of 2004 survey respondents say they have been in their present field for more than 10 years. (See "How Long Have You Worked in Your Present Field?")

Look for more job opportunities to open up in public health: The largest increase in RN employment from 1996-2000 was recorded in public and community health settings,2 and there is an escalating shortage of qualified public health workers, according to a recently released report issued by the Washington, DC-based Association of State and Territorial Health Officials.3 According to the 2004 report’s findings, the average age of public health workers is about 47, retirement rates in public health can rise as high as 45% in some states over the next five years, and job vacancy rates are as high as 20% in some parts of the country.3 The most severe shortages will occur in the fields of nursing, epidemiology, and laboratory sciences, findings indicate.3

Funding will be a critical part of attracting and retaining public health staff; state health officials are eyeing are considering benefits such as advanced education, flexible work hours, and telecommuting opportunities in light of budget constraints that restrict pay increases.3 Educational opportunities may be attractive to family planning providers. About 40% of survey respondents say they hold a graduate degree, while about 24% have a bachelor’s degree. About 25% say they have some college or an associate degree. (See "What is Your Highest Academic Degree?" )

Is a change imminent?

If your present employment scene needs changing, the Internet may offer valuable job resources. Nurse-midwives can check professional opportunities across the nation and internationally at ACNM’s dedicated web site, www.MidwifeJobs.com. The web site allows nurse-midwife job seekers to freely link to hospitals, birth centers, physicians, and any health care organization seeking midwives to expand their services.

The Washington, DC-based Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses (AWHONN) has launched its own on-line nursing career center, www.NursingCareerCenter.com, as a one-stop shopping for employers, recruiters, nurses, and people considering a career in nursing. The on-line resource includes a searchable database of nurses’ resumes to allow employers to scan for specific criteria; position listings with opportunities ranging from staff nurses to nurse executives; a clearinghouse of information about various nursing specialties, nursing schools, scholarships, the Nurse Reinvestment Act, and becoming a nurse; career management advice for nurses interested in a career change or development; and links to numerous web sites.

The site is open and available to nurses and persons interested in nursing free of charge; applicants can confidentially post their resumes on the site. The site offers a search engine that can be set to periodically scan posted resumes for specific nursing qualifications and notify an employer when qualifying resumes are posted.

"The demand for nurses overall, and for women’s health nurses, in particular, remains high," says Gail Kincaide, AWHONN executive director. "The increasing emphasis on promoting prevention and healthy lifestyles to help women prevent conditions like osteoporosis and breast cancer makes women’s health nursing a positive and rewarding specialty that also provides important growth and leadership opportunities."


1. Norbut M. Primary care physicians are caught in productivity squeeze. AM News 2004; accessed at: www.ama-assn.org/amednews/2004/09/20/bil10920.htm.

2. Inglis T. Nursing the trends: Nurses have more employment options than ever. Am J Nursing 2004; 104:25-32.

3. Steib PA. Public health workforce shortage could jeopardize terrorism preparedness. Press release. June 8, 2004. Accessed at www.astho.org/templates/display_pub.php?u=JnB1Yl9pZD0xMTQw.