I have reported often about the severe and increasing shortages of nurses both in Virginia and nationally.
At some point in nearly everyone’s life, we literally will not be able to live without the help of a nurse, whether for injury or illness or just declining overall health.
We need both the nurses and ourselves to be safe when that happens. We will have to fill the shortages, first by recruitment and retention. Perhaps simultaneously by increased legal immigration of qualified nurses from other countries.
This article will focus first on what RNs were paid in 2021, both in Virginia and nationwide. We will examine it in absolute and in relative terms. Virginia in 2021 was competitive on pay in relative terms. But wages may be insufficient in absolute terms to address the shortages.
Then we will discuss what else needs to be done to recruit, train and retain more nurses. I mentioned in an earlier article that RN instructors in training programs are one of the biggest needs.
The Census Bureau and Bureau of Labor Statistics have captured the large increases in registered nurse (RN) pay across the board and the doubling of the pay of travel nurses in 2021. Those pay surges were driven by COVID supply and demand and funded partially by federal emergency money.
You will see that, by what I consider a useful calculation, Virginia RN’s median wage compensation is 18th among the states when adjusted for each state’s cost of living index. Virginia is the top-paying state among adjacent states and the District of Columbia.
Regardless of the reason, it was past time that we paid them more. We need the pay raises to stick. It is the only way over the long run to begin increasing the supply.
I say begin because there are other factors driving nurses away. Safety is a huge factor. Continue reading