Comparing Nurses’ Salaries to Physicians’
A March 11 article posted to cnnmoney.com taunts readers
with the provocative headline "Some nurses paid more than family doctors."
point of the article is that primary care physicians are "struggling to make ends
meet" on their average annual base salary of $173,000 in 2009, with the
implication that they should be paid more. But the argument supposedly
supporting that conclusion is that certified nurse anesthetists (CRNAs) earned
an average annual salary of $189,000 last year.
It's clearly "nurse" that's the
fighting word here, because if we focus on "anesthetist" we'd see that the
comparison isn't valid. (The idea that any nurse should not make more than any
physician is the unstated premise in the argument. After all, the article
points out, anesthesiologists have 4 or 5 years more medical training than
Compared with salaries of nurses
whose jobs are similar to those of family practice physicians, those with a
medical degree come out ahead. According to the 2009 National Salary and
Workplace Survey of Nurse Practitioners,
family NPs made almost exactly half the average annual salary of a family
practice physician -- $86,520 average ($83,000 median) (see Table 3).
And comparing the CRNA average salary cited in the article to the median salary for anesthesiologists ($378,000 according to
salary.com), we see that the nurses make about half of what the physicians
So we can all relax now. When we
compare apples to apples, we find that nurses do not make more than physicians.
case you were wondering, according to the American Academy of Physician Assistants
, PAs in family medicine made an
average annual salary of $84,173 in 2008.