Nursing & Healthcare News

Nursing Trends and Salary Survey for 2020

How the pandemic has impacted the nursing workforce

The American Nurse, official journal of the ANA, recently released results from its fourth annual Nursing Trends and Salary Survey for 2020. Here is what respondents said.

Conflicts with Colleagues and Patients

“The bully is given the benefit of the doubt”

How’s the atmosphere in your workplace? The American Nurse’s latest Nursing Trends and Salary Survey finds that bullying and verbal abuse are distressingly common.

Trouble at Work

Fully 39 percent of survey respondents said they’d been verbally assaulted by a colleague and 46 percent said they’d observed such bullying in their workplace. While most nurses who witnessed such incidents said they tried to intervene, only 38 percent reported them, and few of those who did so were happy with the response.

“Too many times managers and supervisors try to give the benefit of the doubt to the bully,” said one respondent.

Thirty-nine percent of those who didn’t report bullying said they feared reprisals.This is of particular concern because managers are sometimes perpetrators; 18 percent of respondents said a manager had bullied or verbally assaulted them. The number of nurses who said they’d been verbally abused at work rose from 35 percent to 39 percent between 2019 and 2020.

Nursing Education

Patient Conflicts

Assaults by patients and visitors also remain common: Fifty-four percent of nurses said a patient had verbally assaulted them; 18 percent had been physically assaulted by a patient; and 36 percent had been verbally assaulted by a family member or other visitor.

Nurses were slightly more likely to report incidents involving patients or visitors than interprofessional conflicts, although only about half of those who did were satisfied with the response. Four in 10 respondents said they didn’t report an incident because they didn’t think anything would be done about it. “The adage ‘the customer is always right’ seems to count first and foremost over the safety and regard for nurses,” one respondent lamented.

On the Bright Side

One positive step many organizations are taking to protect nurses is providing training in de-escalating conflicts. Seventy-one percent of respondents who received such training have used it in practice, and 85 percent find it helpful.

The Pandemic’s Impact on Staffing and Salaries

“Nurses don’t jump ship”

The good news is that the 2020 survey responses don’t suggest an impending mass exodus of exhausted, frustrated nurses — quite the opposite! Only 2 percent of respondents (mostly in Southern states) say they plan to leave the profession due to the pandemic. “Nurses don’t jump ship,” said one respondent.

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Strong Marks for Nursing

Despite the stress, the vast majority (85 percent) of survey respondents say they would still become a nurse if they had it to do over again. Sixty-nine percent are satisfied with their current organization’s COVID-19 response. While 56 percent of respondents say their workload has increased in the past year, only 11 percent of nurses are looking to change jobs or specialty areas.

Despite the increased workload, more than two-thirds (69 percent) are satisfied with their current compensation — 49 percent have an annual base salary of $80,000 or more.

Fifty-five percent reported receiving a salary increase. What would cause a nurse to leave? Sixty-three percent say they’d consider jumping ship for more money. Thirty percent would find a new employer for a more positive workplace environment. Although most nurses don’t plan to seek a new position in the immediate future, just under half (42 percent) see themselves staying with their current employers for the long haul (i.e., five or more years).

A Recruitment Challenge

Managers who responded to the survey are noticing increases in open positions and turnover compared to 2019, and 59 percent say recruitment has become more difficult.

As the pandemic drags on, that situation may get worse before it gets better, suggesting that healthcare employers should take a closer look at their strategies for RN recruitment and retention.

You can read more survey results at

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