Yesterday at work, I had a conversation with a resident that's stuck in my thoughts today.
I was returning to the unit from taking one of my patients to a test, and I jokingly mentioned to him that, as evidenced by my other patient's awkward position in bed, my co-workers had neglected to check in on her for me while I was away, as they had promised. We laughed, and he said, "If only you could clone yourself," to which I replied, "Right. If that were the case, I'd expect to get paid double."
Funny idea. He laughed, I laughed, and then he said, "Hey, don't say that. You already do get paid double what I get paid!"
"True," I said. "For now."
It's great that I get paid double what this resident gets paid. I think I deserve it -- yeah, he has 24-hour call every five days, and has to work 7 days a week, but I think I work harder. I'm responsible for the lives of two patients, and for 12 hours straight, I actually physically carry out the myriad of tests, procedures, monitoring and general upkeep that is required to get them through their ailments.
That's not what bothered me about the conversation. What bothers me, is that in five years, when this resident is out of training, his statement won't be true. In fact, he'll be doing LESS work, for more money. While I, the RN, if I stay in my current position, will be making around the same amount.
Sure, the longer you stay in nursing, the more you make. With my Union, I get a good raise every year, so by my 30 year mark, I'll be making six figures.
But that's thirty years from now.
Immediately after I uttered the words, "For now," I stopped what I was doing and thought for a second. Thirty years is way too long to wait to make a six-figure salary. And, if I believe that I'm an expert, and that nursing is a field with endless options for advancement, there's no way I'm waiting that long.
It was good to realize, that, although it might not seem so to the bystander, nurses have every opportunity to make just as much as MDs do (although, for the record, I do believe the incomes of RNs and MDs should be swapped...but that's a post for another day).
The options are endless, and often free for the taking. Get your master's, get into administration, specialize in a field and become a sought-after consultant. All of it starts with the two letters: RN.
For those of you reading who don't have those letters behind your name just yet...here's one of many programs -- it's a scholarship program from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the AACN -- that hand out money to people ready to join the RN trend: http://newcareersinnursing.org/