I recently interviewed for a PT position with a local Home Health company to utilize my nursing skills, remain flexible with my elder family members and share my healing wisdom after finishing Grad School. It was going quite well until the discussion of “orientation”. At that point I heard the words, “minimum wage”- WHAT??? At first, I wasn’t sure what I heard or how to respond, so I asked, and the recruiter repeated “minimum wage during orientation”. When he left the room I “googled” it- surely, it’s more than $10/hr. In Florida, however, I learned that it was recently RAISED to $8.25 on January 1, 2018.
Deep breaths… this MUST mean time spent on the computer from home (as I was recently paid $10/hr. to update online education with another company) … NO, that was the rate for entire time spent for two full days in the office. Yikes! Isn’t my time as a Professional Nurse with 30 years of experience worth more than that???
My Internal Chatter
In comes the little girl voice- “Oh, you should be happy they are paying you anything; just smile and be grateful.” But, minimum wage? Sure, nurses don’t make tons of money, but I’ve not made minimum wage since high school (late ‘70’s). WTF? All I want to do is help people! Don’t worry, this is not going to be a political discussion about minimum wage, but we DO need to discuss Nurses/ Professionals standing firm in our Power.
My little girl voice continued, “Come on- It’s only for TWO days of orientation- after all, you’re not actually taking care of live patients, just going through protocols, skills and paperwork.” But, in the hospital, or any other setting in which I have been employed, I was always compensated at the agreed up hourly rate for time spent “at work- orientation, or not”.
I left the meeting and planned to hear back from the employer in a couple days. I knew I’d be thinking about this over the weekend. During that time, I spoke with my mom (a retired RN) who validated my feelings of being insulted, minimized and even a bit coerced. Sure, I’d like to take this position due to it’s flexibility… yet the more we talked, the less palatable the position looked. She shared stories of how far we’ve come as nurses over the last 6 decades, yet we obviously have MUCH more work to do!
Who are WE?
Nurses are the largest group of healthcare providers in the country- We are nearly 3 million strong today (and more than 19 million strong worldwide). WE are the ones who touch the patients (body, mind and spirit) to facilitate healing… We have attended college for many years (2, 4, 6, 8… etc) beyond HS and are PROFESSIONALS! What other group of professionals would accept Minimum Wage during Orientation???
CRICKETS… No other group! It is time to listen to the little girl (validate her feelings), and tell her that she is indeed VERY VALUABLE and worth more than minimum wage as an RN (regardless of the setting). No longer does she need to accept the crumbs being offered, “keep the peace” and “play nice”. It is time to speak up for all nurses in a very professional fashion, and clearly articulate acceptable compensation for our skills. After all, WE are the most respected profession based on a recent Gallup poll. This is an invitation to ALL NURSES out there… What is YOUR line in the sand??? Drop me a line!
When I worked as a travel nurse for five years, the low “hourly rate” (taxable) seemed acceptable, because it was offset with Housing/ Per Diem (not taxed). I felt that it worked out in the long run… but maybe not. Other travel nurses on FB have spoken up and accused those that take low rates are negatively impacting ALL nurses. I didn’t understand that position… until now, when it really hits home. It’s been VERY insightful to untangle these FEELINGS (hidden messages) instead of just arguing about the $$$.
SO, here’s my plan-
- Stand Firm in my Position- “Minimum wage” is not acceptable compensation for ANY Professionals, period. Clearly define my OWN expectations for employment based on “Minimum wage for an RN” search ($28.47 average hourly rate).
- Graciously decline the position; I am launching a Kickstarter campaign this week for my book, so that is MUCH more valuable use of my time!
- Write a letter to the President of the company explaining my position and offering suggestions.
- Seek or CREATE a position more worthy of my skills, passion and positive vision.
- Envision myself (and ALL of us- 3 million strong in USA) as VALUABLE PROFESSIONALS, able to command fair compensation for our education, experience and expertise in healing.
- Continue to write, speak and advocate for Nurses, Patients & Healthcare- Empowering ALL with visions of Health, Vitality and Quality of Life.
Lisa Evers, RN, BSN, MA (2/18)