Many CRNAs Expect Universal Healthcare to Lower Salaries Nurse Anesthetist Salary Survey Finds Eight-Percent Drop in Average Salary

This year's presidential election has sparked considerable discussion about healthcare reform and decreasing the uninsured U.S. population, but how do those on the frontlines of patient care view the issue? More than half (52 percent) of certified registered nurse anesthetists (CRNAs) responding to a recent nurse anesthetist salary survey conducted by physician recruiting firm said universal healthcare would negatively affect their personal incomes.

Among 412 nurse anesthetist salary survey respondents, 37% indicated the policy would have no effect on their earnings. Only 11% thought universal healthcare's effect on their personal incomes would be positive. However, this is not to say that CRNAs generally oppose universal healthcare.

"Based on the healthcare provider comments we've received through several recent surveys, the term 'universal healthcare' prompts visions of greater government control and bureaucracy," Senior Vice President Pamela McKemie said. "However, a number of providers seem to think it's a policy whose time has come, regardless of how it affects them personally."

CRNA comments related to universal healthcare included these:

"Willing to make a little less to help more people."

"(Universal healthcare) would increase the demand for care and exacerbate shortages."

"Our country is long overdue for universal healthcare. I don't care what it does to my pay. I would give up substantial salary if our country would finally provide health care [sic] free for everyone."

Nurse Anesthetist Salary Trends Identified
Forty percent of CRNA salary survey respondents said their 2007 income was about the same as (25%), or less than (15%), their income in 2006. However, 37 percent reported an income increase of 2 to 9 percent and 23 percent reported an increase of 10 percent or more.

Overall 2008 CRNA annual compensation averaged $163,467.30, roughly 92 percent of the average $178,084 for 2007 CRNA respondents to the nurse anesthetist salary survey. While 54 percent of respondents were employer-based, 42 percent had worked as a locum tenens provider and 32 percent reported working on a locum tenens or contract basis exclusively.

Like 2007 survey participants, this year's rural nurse anesthetist salary survey respondents reported the highest salary average relative to the metro or suburban CRNA salary averages reported:

Rural average $174,214.30
Metro average $164,148.80
Suburban average $156,630.70

Twenty-five percent of 2008 CRNA salary survey respondents reported practicing in rural areas; the rest of this year's CRNA respondents were almost evenly split between major metro areas (38%) and suburban areas (37%).

More than half of 2008 CRNA respondents (54%) said they had no plans to change jobs. However, a quarter of respondents said they planned to change jobs within the next year. Higher compensation was the top reason for making a job change, as identified by 41 percent of respondents. Twenty percent said the top reason was to seek a better community for themselves and their families, while 17% would be seeking a better work environment.

Most 2008 CRNA respondents (84%) said they would choose medicine as a career again if given the choice.