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Highest Paying Nursing Jobs Not Always the Highest Satisfaction

Nursing is a career that requires hard work, a big heart, and a good deal of education and training.  So, it's no surprise that most nursing jobs come with a decent salary. In fact, any publication's list of the top reasons to become a nurse will include salary and/or flexible scheduling towards the top. However, high paychecks can often come with less than desirable working conditions.  The highest paid nursing jobs do not always provide the highest levels of job satisfaction.

Universal Factors Involved in Job Satisfaction

Psychologist Frederick Herzberg did significant research regarding job satisfaction.  He interviewed employees using two simple questions.  From a wide variety of responses, he was able to create a list of specific factors that contribute to job satisfaction.  Some of the key elements were: company and administrative policies, interpersonal relationships, salary, working conditions, and supervision.  Once these factors are in place, employees can focus on secondary aspects of their jobs such as the actual work they do, achievement, recognition, responsibility and advancement.

In other words, the highest paid nursing jobs in the world will not bring satisfaction until certain key elements are in place. Balancing these elements can help you to determine which area of nursing will be the best one for you, regardless of the paycheck.


Highest Paid Nursing Jobs - Are they right for you?


Management Positions

Many of the highest paid nursing jobs involve management positions. In theory, the idea of being The Boss can be appealing. But before you put your advancement plans in action, ask yourself these questions:

  • Are you a good leader?
  • Can you stay calm in the midst of staff conflict?
  • How do you feel about hiring and firing people?
  • Are you okay with working a considerable amount of overtime without extra pay?
  • Will you be satisfied managing other nurses, rather than working with patients?

Management positions are often all work and very little glory.  You will be the one that staff members complain to, or about.  Any mistakes or errors made by a nurse on your floor and you will be the one held ultimately responsible.  The stress that goes along with being a Head of Nursing, or a Nursing Director, can be debilitating if you can't handle the pressure. 

However, if you answer the above questions and still feel that management is where you belong, then you are in for a rewarding career and will have the privilege of creating a well managed environment while acting as a mentor to your nursing staff.

Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA)

When you work as a CRNA, people's lives are literally in your hands.  The stress can be overwhelming.  You must be someone that can work well under incredible pressure and make critical decisions in an instant. You also must complete two more years of intensive training and learning on top of  your R.N requirements. 

One of the most rewarding things about being a CRNA is the ability to work in a variety of different work environments from operating rooms, to oral surgery offices and obstetrics.  You will never be bored.

Nurse Practitioner (NP)

As a Nurse Practitioner, you have all of the training of an R.N. combined with additional training and certification that allows you to diagnose patients' diseases, infections, and injuries.  You will also be able to legally prescribe medication.  This added responsibility can be stressful and any misdiagnoses and/or adverse reactions to your prescriptions will come back to you.

Although you will often work in collaboration with a physician, it is common for NPs to run their own clinics.  It is another field that allows a nurse to work in a wide variety of settings, which can be a major bonus.

Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM)

CNMs are becoming more common as the field of Obstetrics continues to evolve.  Medical facilities are realizing that M.D.s are not necessary when monitoring the health of mothers and their babies, in low- to moderate-risk pregnancies and deliveries.  The CNM will usually facilitate mother and baby's healthcare throughout the pregnancy and birth.  She will oversee the birth process and only call in an M.D. in cases where there are complications or more stringent medical interventions are required. The stress in this position is mostly related to the great responsibility involved.

At the end of the day, literally, it is important that you feel satisfied with the work you have done, the relationship you have with your co-workers, and the day-to-day tasks that comprise the work you do.  Salary should fall somewhere in the middle of these factors.  The highest paid nursing jobs will be the ones in which salary and job satisfaction are balanced. Making a conscious decision about which area of nursing is right for you, will provide a long and rewarding future career.

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