Updated: Mar 13, 2022
Why is legislation considering capping nurses' salaries is unnecessary and harmful to the healthcare field?
Nurses are vital in healthcare. Currently, individuals who work in the healthcare field know the importance of nurses and what they contribute to the healthcare system; however, now, millions of individuals worldwide have also witnessed how essential nurses are in the healthcare realm. Furthermore, the infrastructure in healthcare has changed drastically for the healthcare system, more specifically for the nurses. Nurses have influenced the medical field for decades. We have innovated new techniques that affect how patients are treated, ways to prevent illness, educate patients on healthy lifestyles, and improve healthcare for nurses, other healthcare personnel, and patients and families which care is being provided. In the last 2 ½ years, nurses have been the backbone in fighting the pandemic, sacrificing themselves, their families, social life, etc. Over the last year, there have been whispers of Congress passing a law to cap nurses' wages. Many nurses are perplexed as to why the government is attempting to cap nurses' salaries; furthermore, nurses want to know why the government wants to decide how much nurses should be compensated. This discussion will discuss the myths, clarify what is going on regarding nurses pay, my opinion, and unknowns in how capping nurses' salaries can influence healthcare.
Myth: Legislation is attempting to restrict nurses' pay!
So, let's be clear that legislation is not trying to cap nurses' salaries. However, legislation wants Congress to limit how much agencies are legally allowed to inflate wages they charge hospitals and medical facilities for nurses they hire for contract jobs.
Hospitals, LTC, and other healthcare systems struggle to find and retain nurses. Why is it hard for facilities to retain nurses? Let's talk about it. Nurses have been underpaid, underappreciated, and abused by the healthcare system, patients and their family for years. Then, when the pandemic hit, it threw the healthcare system into disarray, all that we knew changed drastically. Lack of proper PPE, nurse-patient ratio increased drastically, causing nurses to take on more patients with fewer nurses; procedures and actions that would usually be implemented went out of the window as well at one point individuals said the fighting Covid-19 is what nurses signed up for. Nurses were needed more than ever; however, nurses quickly became burnt out with the workload, and demands increased drastically. The pandemic has allowed nurses to be compensated at a decent pay rate over the last two years and counting due to the demand for nurses. The disparities that nurses face with fair pay are astonishing. Females dominate the nursing field; however, male nurses, who make up little more than 10% of nurses, are paid higher by 7k a year. Whereas over 60% of males are physicians, male physicians get paid close to 2 million more over their careers than female physicians. The pay cap is mainly referring to agencies' price gauging traveling nurses.
My Opinion (Just my thoughts, ladies and gentlemen)
So, I agree that agencies should not price gauge medical facilities; however, I know that if there is a cap on how much agencies can charge, then the little fish in the ocean (Nurses) will be the ones to suffer. Had nurses been compensated accordingly, had a safe patient ratio, no abuse, amongst other unfair treatment, the amount of nurses quitting at an alarming rate and traveling to a facility that pays the higher would not be so alarming. Many nurses have left jobs they have been at for years and are traveling due to higher pay, better working conditions, and fewer politics. With agencies inflating the fee they charge for nurses, specifically travel nurses, nurses have been in the limelight, and the whole country knows about travel nurses. Personally, anytime I tell someone I'm a travel nurse, they're amazed, and they usually say something to the effect of "you're so lucky" or "OMG, that's such a cool job" or my favorite "you must be rich." Many people do not realize the sacrifices that nurses deal with when traveling. Traveling has to be worth more than the sacrifice, meaning higher pay, per diem pay, providing OT, accommodating my living standards, flexible hours, providing scrubs and transportation, etc. Nurses are at the forefront of this pandemic, and we are doing a lot more than other professionals in the healthcare setting, so yes, we expect our pay to reflect our sacrifices. I also believe that Congress needs to consider agencies are putting out to obtain travel nurses; this includes housing, insurance, travel, and other essentials. If Congress succeeds in mitigating agencies fees for nurses, we might not be allotted these essentials, which may constrain nurses from traveling. This may cause more of a strain on the healthcare system.
Furthermore, it would be naïve to believe that nurses would not be affected directly if there is an attempt to implement the suggested cap. I also think what is going on in the healthcare system revolving nurses proves that the money has always been there; however, many healthcare facilities never invested in their nursing staff. It amazes me that before Covid-19, when asking for a raise, the response of "budget" or "we cannot afford that" shows that healthcare facilities have always had the money, and now nurses are coming to collect.
Unknown: Will Congress pass this law? How will nurses and healthcare workers be affected if the law is passed?
If Congress approves or passes a law to cap costs for nurses, the strain on the healthcare system and nurses may be felt even more by workers, patients, and civilians. If this law is passed, how will it affect the nursing profession? Are healthcare agencies gouging the prices, or is the healthcare field upset because they are paying more? Imagine if they paid nurses $30 more an hour. Would they have run into this issue?
If Congress passes the cap on agencies, how do you think that will affect you?
I don't think it'll ever affect me. I probably will never work agency and get stuck with staff pay, but I know that all nurses deserve a damn raise. I got a 3.5% raise when I went back to work a 1% annual salary bonus from the company, and that sh*t will never be enough. 🤕 (JP)
Capping salary is boxing us in 😩 when we're needed now more than ever. (MB)
So from my understanding from the little bit that I have read, this bill is not even being considered. But if by chance they do, I think you will see a significant decrease in the number of nurses that we have now. After dealing with the pandemic and the tragedy faced daily, the burn of nurses. You have already seen nurses leaving in flock to do something else. Whether that is in the nursing field or they have left nursing altogether. Then you had a surge of nurses leave initially when it was mandated that nurses be vaccinated to do the job they have been doing unvaccinated since the pandemic happened. So, if they are earnest about this cap, it will be devastating to hospitals and nursing facilities that depend on the agency workers. So, to answer your question about how it will affect me, I don't have an answer for that because I'm doing what I love, so I'm not 100% sure if I would leave nursing. (JA)
If that were to happen, it would personally make it hard for me to agree to work for specific agencies. They would have to pay a decent amount for me to work for them. It also impacts the ultimate care for the patients and their families because it would be hard to find workers on top of an already weakened health system. (PH)
Yes, I absolutely think I would be affected! The only reason why I applied to travel was to get ahead of inflation just a bit. The cost of everything has/is rising while nursing salaries remain the same, but the workload and the demand have increased. Due to Covid, every medical-related facility is short-staffed. If Congress passed a bill to put a cap on nurses' salaries, the quality of care will diminish tremendously because I'd be the first to say "I'm out" ✌🏾(DH)