Nurses: Overworked and Underpaid?

Nursing in Australia is a highly fulfilling career.   Being able to relief the sick and injured people is a rewarding feeling. Nurses play an essential role in the delivery of Australia’s health, aged and general community care.

Demand for nurses is widely expected to grow as the Australia population increases and ages. However, are nurses underpaid and overworked?

Nurses are one of the hardest professions, but do they get paid what they deserve? From working 16 hour shifts, getting no breaks, no lunches, barely enough time to go to the bathroom, insufficient staffing, impossibly long shifts, endless charting, working with inexperienced nurses, conflict between other nurses or doctors, to being abused by patients.

It is not surprising that nurse’s feel overworked and underpaid. Some nurses are on a salary that does not compensate for the amount of work that they are doing.

Some nurses across Australia are so irritated with the current working conditions that they are considering leaving their jobs and majority would discourage others from becoming a nurse. All because of the disillusionment, low pay, lack of resources and limited opportunities.

Over the years, there has been a countless amount of strikes by nurses all across the world; ranging from Royal Melbourne, to Ballarat to California.

The average registered Australian nurse specialising in medical/surgical practices are making a total of $25 – $35 per hour, which can range from $42 000 to $59 000 per year. The average registered Australian doctor makes anywhere from $70 000 to $98 000 per year.

Specialising doctors will make near $115 000 to $240 000 per year. By looking at these figures, you can see a drastic difference between the average nurse’s salary and the doctors.

Nurses are always seen as putting in the same effort as doctors, if not more. So why are nurses being paid so much less for doing the same amount of effort?

It is a common fact that whenever a patient is in the hospital that the nurse will spend more time with the patient than the doctor and sometimes double the time that a doctor will.

Wouldn’t it be more beneficial and open-minded that nurses get paid just a little bit less than a doctor or the same? Why aren’t they given the same respect as a doctor?

Nurses are understaffed, overworked and overpaid and they still turn up to work to do their job every day.

All they want are benefits, decent pay, respect and dignity. You cannot attract people to this job unless the conditions of the whole business are willing to change.

By Dani Paparone

Australia's Student Newspaper, trying to Improve Student Life. We publish articles written by students from across Australia and the world!

1 Comment

  1. Thomas Mort

    01/11/2012 at 3:23 am

    Interesting topic Dani, I’ve got family and friends in the profession and the issues you raise are common experiences for them. There are similar issues in other occuppations such as Defence: NCOs doing much of the hard-yards with quite simlar skill levels plus more experience but for less reward than their commisioned counterparts. I suspect these inequualities are remnants of past class-distinctions that are no longer relevant (or less relevant).

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