LocumTenens.com Says CRNAs Earn More for Rural Practice

Locum Tenens CRNAs Out-Earn Staff CRNAs in Salary Survey

"If this year's CRNA (certified registered nurse anesthetist) salary survey results from LocumTenens.com are any indication, nurse anesthetists who work in rural America out-earn their urban and suburban colleagues by about 10%.

Overall annual CRNA compensation averaged $178,084.70 among 417 respondents to this year's salary survey, compared to $196,194.60 for the 28% of respondents who said they currently practice in rural areas (defined as areas with populations of less than 50,000). Rural respondents averaged 19.8 years in practice, compared to an average of 16.5 years in practice overall.

"The income differential isn't surprising when you consider the increasing surgical demands of our aging population and the scarcity of clinicians in many parts of rural America," LocumTenens.com Recruiting Manager/Anesthesia Diana Holmes said. "Nurse anesthetists function as the sole anesthesia providers in more than half of all rural U.S. hospitals, according to the AANA (American Association of Nurse Anesthetists)."

Holmes noted that only about 14% of the 419 respondents to LocumTenens.com's 2007 anesthesiologist salary survey reported practicing in rural areas. She said this tracks with data from the National Rural Health Association indicating that only 10% of physicians practice in rural America, where about a quarter of the U.S. population lives.

Rural Locum Tenens Lucrative
Among rural respondents to the CRNA salary survey, the highest earnings were reported by the 10% of survey respondents who work locum tenens exclusively for an average of 10.3 months per year, with total compensation averaging $205,538.50 annually.

"The AANA indicates that CRNAs administer 65% of the 26 million anesthetics given each year to patients in the United States," Holmes said. "Companies like LocumTenens.com facilitate getting them to where they're most needed-often at facilities where an OR (operating room) would have to close but for their willingness to travel. That's one reason why they get paid well for doing it."

Sixty percent of all 2007 CRNA salary survey respondents said they have worked locum tenens while another 37% who haven't done so said they would consider it. Thirty percent said they plan a job change within the next year, while almost half (49%) said they plan to make a change within 3 years. Overall 40% of respondents said the possibility of higher compensation would be the number-one influencer, while 24% cited the potential for a better work environment.

CRNA Frustrations Consistent
Rural CRNAs' list of top frustrations with medical practice today matched the larger respondent universe's list fairly consistently, as follows:

Administrative and business agendas interfering with clinical decisions 29% 30%
Reimbursement issues 22% 19%
Medical liability issues 16% 13%
Lifestyle issues: too much time at work, not enough time to enjoy life 12% 14%

Likewise, 82% of both rural and all CRNA salary survey respondents said they would choose a CRNA career again. This compares to 90% of 2006 respondents, only 20% of whom planned to change jobs within the coming year.