Why a Well-Paid Nurse Is a Better Nurse


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Abstract

Executive SummaryRebutting the argument by Heyes that lower wages attract better, “vocationally called” nurses, the authors invalidate this position on several grounds including existing research regarding the relationship between wages, retention, and patient outcomes as well as forces evident in the current nursing labor market.Simply put, the strength of “vocation does guarantee skill” and good nursing care hinges heavily upon clinical and technical knowledge.In addition, Heyes projects the possible decisions of an individual onto the entire labor market, ignoring the possibility that some caring nurses also need a well-paying job to support their families.Taking Heyes' assertion to an extreme, the best way to secure a fully “vocational” workforce would be to rely solely on volunteers to deliver patient care.While Heyes asserts that higher wages “crowd out” good nurses, he overlooks the evidence that wages, when used as a form of recognition, can “crowd in” good nurses.In reality, the lack of wage incentives in the U.S. is one factor leading to the labor shortage and the need for recruitment of foreign-trained nurses.

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