A nurse holds hands with a senior nursing home resident
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Long-term care providers’ best strategy for attracting and retaining nurses will have to be paying higher salaries, a staffing expert said after reviewing a new nurse wage survey.

Nurse pay is rapidly rising, while more are considering leaving the profession altogether, according to findings published Thursday by Relias. The 2022 Nurse Salary Research Report assessed salary, benefits, education and nurses’ career paths. It was based on more than 2,500 responses from qualified registered nurses, advanced practice RNs and licensed practical/vocational nurses in long-term care, home health, acute care and school settings. 

Key findings showed that the median RN salary was $78,000 — a “substantial increase” of the median RN salary of $73,000 reported in Relias’ 2020 report. Median salary was also up for LPNs, from $45,000 in 2020 to $48,000 in this year’s report. 

Nurses in long-term care and acute care were 26% and 35% more likely to report pandemic-related increases in salary when compared to other industries, data showed. They also were more likely to work more hours. The average number of total hours worked per week at the pandemic’s peak, including overtime and on-call, was 39.9 hours. However, for long-term care, the average hours hit 45.5 hours.

The survey also showed that the percentage of nurses considering changing employers increased to 17% in 2021 — up from the 11% in 2020. Nurses in long-term care were 22% more likely to be actively looking to change employers. 

Long-term care providers don’t have the same operating budgets as their counterparts in the healthcare industry, according to Matthew Mawby, co-founder of StaffHealth.com, a national, full-service healthcare staffing & recruitment agency.  

He told McKnight’s Long-Term Care News on Thursday that since more older nurses are considering leaving, the amount of opportunities in the industry can be appealing to young recruits looking to get their foot in the door. 

“In turn, this could lead to a higher negotiated pay rate, as well as scheduling options that will increase the likelihood of a provider staying mentally fit with an acceptable work life balance, and therefore, decreasing turnover,” he said.