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Clinical Systems Leadership

Pay Gap Between Male and Female RNs

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According to a recent report published in the Journal of the American Medical Academy, there is and has been a significant pay gap between male and female registered nurses in the U.S. Regardless of specialty or position, male RNs consistently out-earn female RNs, and the situation didn’t improve between 1988 and 2013.

Assessing the pay gap
While other industries have seen the pay gap between male and female earnings reduce over the past few years and since the passage of the Equal Pay Act, the problem has persisted among RNs, according to JAMA. While women make up an overwhelming majority of all RNs in the U.S. – 92 percent in 2008 according to the U.S. Department of Labor – this report pointed to a difference of thousands of dollars in average salaries between the genders.

Among RNs in ambulatory care, men were paid about $7,600 more on average than their female counterparts, the study explained. In cardiology, the gap was about $6,000. In a hospital setting and with chronic care, the average gap was lower, but still significant at about $3,800 each.

The report analyzed data from the National Sample Survey of Registered Nurses, which ended in 2008, and the American Community Survey, which had data from 2001 to 2013. Less than 10 percent of the nearly 300,000 nurses involved in the surveys were men. The surveys did not include information on employment factors which may have contributed to these salary differences, the JAMA report notes.
“The roles of RNs are expanding with implementation of the Affordable Care Act and emphasis on team-based care delivery,” the study explained. “A salary gap by gender is especially important in nursing because this profession is the largest in health care and is predominantly female, affecting approximately 2.5 million women. These results may motivate nurse employers, including physicians, to examine their pay structures and act to eliminate inequities.”

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Finding better pay
Nursing advocates and legislators can work to install regulations that address this pay gap between male and female RNs in the near future, but what can an individual RN do?

If you’re looking to earn more money as a nurse, you may want to consider getting your master of science in nursing or another graduate nursing degree. According to Nurse Journal, many of the top paying nursing careers require a higher degree, such as a certified registered nurse anesthetist, a nurse practitioner, a researcher or a clinical specialist, require a graduate nursing degree. Many of these careers can lead to salaries above $100,000.

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