Approximately 2,000 U.S. nurse leaders revealed a near $4,000 decrease in annual salary, according to a survey in a recent issue of Nursing Management, The Journal of Excellence in Nursing Leadership. The journal is published by Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, a part of Wolters Kluwer Health, a leading provider of information and business intelligence for students, professionals, and institutions in medicine, nursing, allied health, and pharmacy.

Currently, a nurse leader's average salary is $80,170; in 2007, it was almost $84,000 ($83,930). "Similar to many industries, healthcare is experiencing fallout from the economic tumble," says Editor-in-Chief Richard Hader, RN, CNA, CHE, CPHQ, PhD, FAAN.

"If you thought nursing was immune to the downturn, think again. The poor economy is keeping us working longer than we'd anticipated," says Dr. Hader, "and in addition to wage cuts, organizations are freezing or eliminating retirement benefits, further negatively impacting employee morale."

Almost 60% of surveyed leaders felt that they weren't appropriately compensated for their level of responsibility within their organization. But although salaries have been reduced, there's no evidence from this survey that workload has increased. In fact, the survey confirmed that nurse leaders continue to work the same number of hours per week as they have traditionally, and aren't responsible for more staff members or greater fiscal aspects than before the economic crisis.

Also according to the study, 64% of respondents have held their current position for less than five years, and only 7% have been in a leadership position for greater than 16 years. "These statistics confirm an earlier Nursing Management survey finding that indicated 49% of nurse leaders will retire by the end of this decade," says Dr. Hader. "Those of us in leadership positions right now have had a lengthy career as a clinician, but a relatively short one as a manager." For more insight on the realities of nursing leadership, visit our site here.

Lippincott Williams & Wilkins