How Much Is Your Overtime As A Nurse Worth?
How Much Is Your Overtime As A Nurse Worth?

As a nurse I have worked my fair share of overtime. It’s really hard to turn down. I see days where I’m not scheduled to work and my nurse manager begging people to pick up time. Sometimes there are even additional incentives.

It doesn’t seem to matter to anyone if my overtime shift is the 4th or 5th 12-hour shift I will be working in a row. What is important is that the unit is staffed.

But those 4th and 5th 12-hour shifts are harsh.  I’m more irritable, less accommodating, and statistically more likely to make mistakes.

In the short run, overtime is a quick fix for my constant shortage of money, but it always seemed to me there must be a better way.  As I get older, I’m less and less tolerable of shifts stacked one on top of another.  It occurred to me there has to be a better way.

I finally realized that I am only worth the time I have available to exchange for labor.  In business terms, this is not a good model.  First, I cannot replicate myself, so there is a specific, finite amount of overtime that I could ever make.  Let’s do some math.  If you make $35 an hour as a nurse, your base pay is $65,520.  This number may be higher or lower than where you live and work, but the concept will be the same.

This number also assumes you work 156 days out of the year (3- 12hr shifts a week).  This number will leave 209 days that you can do overtime.  If you work every single day of the year in overtime at your regular rate (depends on your hospital system) then you could potentially make an additional $87,780 (209 days x 12 hours x $35).  And your end of year salary would be $153,300.  This number would be an excellent salary, except for the fact that you spent every single possible day working 12-hour shifts.

Now let’s say you earned time and a half on all of your overtime, at a rate of $52.50.  This rate doesn’t take into account the 4 hours a week that aren’t counted as overtime but work with me here.  So now if you work every single day of the year, for 12-hour shifts, your overtime would amount to $131,670 (209 days x 12 hours x $52.50).  And your end of year salary would be $197,190.  Again, this would be a high salary to have!!  Except for the fact that you spent every single possible day of the year working in the hospital system with no days off.

So your absolute max potential of working as a nurse, presuming you never do anything but work is $197,190.  You can work through your numbers, but suffice to say, this isn’t much given the fact that you have to give up your life to achieve it.  And you would likely be fired from making too many mistakes and being miserable to be around before long.

What I came to understand about overtime—not only do I burn out quickly doing overtime, the math for running myself ragged doesn’t add up, it doesn’t move the needle forward for me earning real money.  Plus there is the other little detail, that I kind of like seeing my family and friends and doing things other than working.

The Only Way to Earn Real Money in Life is to get away From Using Your Labor As The Commodity.  When You Trade Labor For Money You Limit Your Earning Potential To Whatever Your Hourly Rate Is.

Realistically, you are probably doing 1-2 overtime shifts a month.  At $40 an hour for 12-hour shifts, this amounts to about $10,000 extra a year to your bottom line.

Now Consider This Alternative:

There is another way to make $10,000 a year without doing any overtime, while at the same time providing value to your patients and your community and impact the healthcare system overall.

And that is to start your own business.  The only way to make money is to make money work for you instead of trading your labor for money.

Ok, so sounds easier said than done right?  And what could you possibly do to bring in $10,000 a year?

Think of this scenario and then apply it to whatever you do.  You work as a cardiology nurse, and you see heart failure patients come in multiple times over the year.  Many of the readmissions are completely preventable and extremely expensive.  Many insurance companies have developed programs to assist heart failure patients at discharge, yet problems persist.

As the nurse providing discharge instructions, you know or could easily find out precisely what the patient understands or doesn’t understand about his diagnosis and treatment plan.  You know the transition from the hospital setting to the home setting is a very vulnerable time and extremely stressful for patients and families.  You also know the patient is only listening to 10% of what you are saying and that the 50-page discharge document you are providing the patient says a whole bunch of nothing.

What if you discovered the top 5 things that patients consistently fail to do that directly contribute to readmission.  And what if you created a basic course that teaches patients exactly what they need to know when they get home, in a step-by-step program.  And what if you put it all together in 4-5 modules that the patient and family could access anytime they wanted.  And you sold it for $99.

Here is some math for you.  How many courses would you need to sell to make $10,000 in a year?  The answer is . . . 100 courses per year.  That is 8.4 courses a month.  And how many overtime shifts would you need to do?  The answer is none.

The beauty of this set up is that you are not limited by the number of courses you could sell.  For instance, what if your program is such a success that you sell 1000 or 10,000 courses.  Then you have just made $100,000 or a million dollars.  You can’t make that kind of money when you trade your time for an hourly wage.

The other great thing is that it doesn’t require any labor on your part except the design and set up.  After that, the program goes on autopilot.  I’m willing to bet an insurance company would be ready to buy out any plan that shows a significant benefit as well!

And the best part about this is that you provide a service that patients need and want.  Believe it or not, insurance companies don’t know what patients need and want.  They don’t ask; they don’t investigate this; they rely on a bunch of published research that can take a decade to implement.  Research is great, but it has flaws and is meant to appeal to the statistical mean, not the individual.  Businesses focus on the needs, wants, and desires of individuals.  The statistical mean is irrelevant and quite honestly is the dead zone of reality.

How many times have you heard the conversation: “Well, statistically speaking, you may have five years to live, but I can’t tell you anything about your circumstances because everyone is different.”  How is this helpful?  The patient may have one month, five years, ten years.  I may have one month, five years, or 10 years to live.  How is it that we base all our treatments on the mean of something that doesn’t have any meaning?  So I’m a little sensitive about talking statistically.  Anyway, the point is, businesses and nurses don’t care about the mean.  Businesses and nurses want to help individuals.

There is no limit to the types of businesses and courses that could be set up.  Right now, there is nothing that exists, so the market is wide open.  And there is no place where there are patients, but there aren’t nurses.  The only reason to come to the hospital is to receive nursing care.  We know what patients need, and we can provide it.

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