Earning Power for Advanced Practice Nurses Keeps Growing

October 31, 2017

Most advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) saw their compensation continue to grow in 2016, with six-figure pay now the norm across all categories, according to the 2017 Medscape APRN Salary Report.

The biggest pay hikes belonged to clinical nurse specialists (CNSs), who received $102,000 last year, 7.4% more than in 2015. Certified registered nurse anesthetists (CRNAs) and nurse practitioners (NPs) registered smaller gains, 3.4% and 2.9%, respectively, while compensation for nurse-midwives (NMs) slipped 1%.

Table 1. APRNs Move Deeper Into Six-Figure Pay

APRN Category 2014 2015 2016
CNSs $95,000 $95,000 $102,000
CRNAs $170,000 $176,000 $182,000
NMs $99,000 $104,000 $103,000
NPs $102,000 $103,000 $106,000
Source: Medscape


Fewer than 10% of those in each APRN category reported receiving less gross income in 2016 than 2015.

All categories of APRNs outearned RNs, who reported $80,000 in compensation last year.

Higher income for APRNs on the whole understandably translated into more contentment with their paychecks. The percentage of CNSs who said they were compensated fairly, for example, rose from 54% in 2014 to 68% in 2016.

Table 2. Okay With Their Pay

APRN Category 2014 2015 2016
CNSs 54% 54% 68%
CRNAs 73% 72% 76%
NMs 58% 61% 64%
NPs 61% 63% 66%
Source: Medscape


A small but significant percentage of APRNs are getting paid through incentive programs that reward productivity or performance on quality-of-care measures. NPs (20%) were most likely to receive incentive pay, while CRNAs (11%) were least likely.

The Medscape survey suggests that self-employment for APRNs is still in its infancy despite these clinicians gaining more and more professional autonomy. Twenty-two states and Washington, DC, for example, allow NPs to treat patients without physician oversight. However, only 4% of NPs reported that they own their own practice. CRNAs were most likely to be self-employed, at 11%. Healthcare attorney Carolyn Buppert told Medscape Medical News that the data "reflect the current trend away from clinician-owned practices" in the era of Big Box medicine.

All these findings emerge from an online survey completed by 3417 APRNs earlier this year. This group consisted of 2036 NPs, 567 CNSs, 501 CRNAs, and 313 NMs.

The full survey results are available online.

Follow Robert Lowes on Twitter @LowesRobert


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