The median salary for nurses across all licensures was higher in 2021 than it was in 2020, according to the 2022 Nurse Salary Research Report from nurse.com.
Nurse salaries were up in 2021
For the report, nurse.com's parent company, Relias, along with Brandware, surveyed 2,516 nursing professionals between Nov. 12 and Dec. 12, 2021.
The report found that the median RN salary was $78,000 in 2021, up from $73,000 in 2020. Meanwhile, the median salary for APRNs was $120,000, up from $107,000 in 2020, and the median salary for LPN/LVNs was $48,000 in 2021, up from $45,000 in 2020.
The report also found a notable gender gap in salary among RNs, with male RNs getting paid $14,000 more than female RNs in 2021—significantly higher than the $7,297 gap found in 2020. However, female APRNs and LPN/LVNs were paid slightly higher than their male counterparts.
The report found that female RNs were less likely to negotiate their salaries either always or most of the time (31%) compared with male RNs (40%).
There were also notably different median salaries among respondents of different races. Nurses identifying as Asian or Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander reported the highest salaries while those identifying as Black or African American and those identifying as white reported the lowest.
How the pandemic has affected nursing
When respondents were asked whether the Covid-19 pandemic affected their salaries, 25% said they saw salary increases while 9% said they saw salary decreases.
Specifically, 30% of nurses ages 25 to 44 reported salary increases, as did 30% of male nurses and 25% of female nurses, the report found. Nearly a third of nurses working in acute care reported a salary increase, while just over a quarter of those working in long-term care reported the same.
On average, at the peak of the pandemic, nurses worked 39.9 hours per week, including overtime and time on call, the report found. However, some groups reported working more hours than other, including male nurses, who worked an average of 44.6 hours per week compared with female nurses' 39.3 hours.
In addition, nurses working in acute care reported working 41.6 hours per week on average while those in long-term care worked 45.5 hours per week, and Black or African American nurses reported working 42.6 hours per week on average.
Travel nursing also saw a significant increase during the pandemic, with 90% of hospital executives and senior leaders saying they hired travel nurses in 2020 compared with less than 60% in 2019. Of the 4% of respondents who said they work as travel nurses, 62% said they became travel nurses in 2020 or 2021.
The percentage of respondents who said they were considering changing employers increased from 11% in 2020 to 17% in 2021, the report found. Of those who said they were looking to change employers, fewer than 20% said they intended to stay at their current employer for more than three years, and 30% said they intend to leave within the next two to three years.
Nearly a quarter of millennial nurses said they were actively looking to change employers, as were 20% of male nurses (compared with 17% of female nurses), 22% of nurses working in long-term care, and 21% of Black or African American nurses.
Meanwhile, 73% of Generation Z nurses said they were not actively looking for a new job but said they were open to new opportunities.
The report also found that 29% of respondents said they are considering leaving the profession altogether, up from 11% saying the same in 2020. That includes over a third of male nurses, a third of female LPN/LVNs, and nearly a third of baby boomer nurses.
According to the report, among those saying they were considering leaving the profession, higher pay was the most influential reason to stay, followed by better work-life balance support and a more reasonable workload. (Carbajal, Becker's Hospital Review, 5/9; "Nurse Salary Research Report 2022," nurse.com).