PhD: Poor, Handcuffed and Debt ridden

In short, a PhD or masters degree is rarely the answer to building wealth. Let’s talk about a relevant example. Right now in British Columbia, Registered nurses have the option to do an additional 4 years of clinical experience and education to become a Nurse Practitioner (2 years acute care experience as an RN and 2 years in university leading to a masters in nursing).

The question is whether or not becoming a nurse practitioner is worth the hassle for the extra pay?

The base pay for an RN is $89,712 at step 9 on the wage grid with Island Health. The base pay for a Nurse Practitioner is $93,000 right now with Island health.  It’s likely going to cost the Nurse Practitioner (NP) $30,000 to get the designation due to tuition and lost wages while in school. It’s already not looking good.

Generally speaking Nurses Practitioners work Monday to Friday and are for the most part not allowed to take overtime. Something positive to say, the work schedule looks nice.

The RN however, is allowed to take over time and shift differentials. For example  working nights on weekends works out to an extra $6.50 an hour. This could average out to about an extra $8,000 a year in salary. Currently, RNs who take overtime can be paid out or better yet bank the overtime and take 2 days off for every shift of overtime they work. This is adventitious because the RN ends up getting paid full-time but can end up working as little as 2-3 days a week!

As is the case with me, I work in a specialty area of nursing. On these specialty units there is an additional pay such as hard to fill pay, On call pay, vehicle and phone reimbursements as well as other types of benefits.

There is so much variation in pay among RNs, It’s very common for nurses, especially in hard to fill areas (ICU, Emergency, Operation Room etc), to make $125,000 to $150,000 per year.

So is it worth it to become a nurse practitioner?  Defiantly not in my opinion! And I haven’t even touched on taxes; any amount made by the NP over the RNs’ base salary is only taking home 60 cents on the dollar.

Can you apply this logic to your situation? Are you thinking about going back to school for a masters or PhD? Why? Is it for personal achievement? Better work schedule? Love to hear your comments below.


Happy Friday


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