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Why surveys matter

By: Lillee Gelinas, MSN, RN, CPPS, FAAN Editor-in-Chief

Tracking nursing trends and salaries provides valuable insights.

Thanks to all of you who participated in this year’s American Nurse Journal Nursing Trends and Salary Survey. Your responses help us all better understand career paths, specialties, education levels, and workplace characteristics. The 2020 survey also includes your perceptions about the COVID-19 pandemic and whether it’s affected your career or job. The pandemic is clearly a defining event in the career of any healthcare professional, and the repercussions won’t be known for a while. American Nurse Journal will continue to track what’s happening now and after the current crisis is hopefully resolved.

How will healthcare’s economic uncertainty impact nursing?

Like you, I wonder how the pandemic and its impact on hospital finances will affect nursing positions and salaries, both long-term and short-term. The American Hospital Association estimates that, as a result of COVID-19, hospitals and health systems face unprecedented financial pressures and are expected to lose more than $200 billion in revenue this year. However, our survey indicates that nursing salaries have been affected only slightly: 55% of respondents had a salary increase (vs. 62% in 2019), and 61% had a raise within the past year (vs. 66% in 2019).

Concern for the workplace environment

The biggest “Aha” moment for me were the responses to the questions about bullying and workplace violence. More than half of respondents reported that they’d been verbally assaulted or bullied by a patient, and 18% had been physically assaulted by a patient. Since many nurses chose not to report these incidents, often because they didn’t think it was serious enough, organizations may need better awareness and reporting processes. Healthy work environments with embedded cultures of safety are characterized by “cultures of reporting” and frequent feedback to reporters about actions taken. In addition, leaders need to reinforce that nurses have a right to a healthy workplace, which means any form of violence is serious and not acceptable. I applaud the nurses who gave such honest and open responses, which gives our editorial team direction for future articles and digital content.

Overview of the nurse manager role

A unique feature of the American Nurse Journal survey is that it analyzes responses in the aggregate as well as by clinician and manager responses. We also ask specific questions related to the role and responsibilities of nurse managers—number of employees supervised, hours worked, and job satisfaction levels are all illustrated through their responses. Most surprising were two findings: how few of the respondents are certified in nursing leadership, and that only 17% report using an acuity-based staffing system. I’m not sure why so few are certified in nursing leadership, and we need to explore that issue further. However, I’m sure that if more acuity-based staffing systems were in place to support nurse managers’ staffing responsibilities, their work-life balance would likely be more balanced.

We just don’t know yet

We’re still in the midst of the pandemic emergency, so we don’t yet know what kind of impact COVID-19’s lingering effects—fatigue and burnout, mental health, personal protective equipment shortages, and turnover due to fear of bringing the virus home—will have on nursing. What I do know when I read the results of this year’s survey, as with past surveys, is that I’m so proud of our profession and the many roles that comprise it. Again, to all of our survey respondents, a sincere thank you.

lillee gelinas msn rn cpps faan editor in chief



– Lillee Gelinas, MSN, RN, CPPS, FAAN,Editor-in-Chief

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