A friend of mine recently found out a coworker's salary is nearly 100% more than their own. Should we feel worth 50% less? Do we contribute 50% less, bring in half as much business? How far does salary.com go when we are asking questions like these? We all feel we have special traits that make us particularly marketable. We think we know where we should fall within that bell curve. But how do we decide how much to ask for our time? I think this is a frequent question for New Professionals and it's certainly not an easy one. Nor can we be sure that we all gravitate to the appropriately deserved income. Some of us are just better at haggling, negotiating, and schmoozing than others.
Here's what I think. As new professionals we are inherently undervalued. But my reasons for thinking this are a little nontraditional. I don't think we're doing the right jobs. Generally an NP's talent in patient care is developing but we have other immediately helpful, untapped skills. We are coming through a period where critical analysis, studying, and technological resource savvy are paramount. I think that those skills could often be put to use early in employment in meaningful ways across a variety of practice settings. What if we respected those skills enough to allow NPs some time to collaborate on and potentially initiate programmatic change? New grads could be seen as consultants and fresh eyes. To me, that's powerful.
The situation reminds me of politics. The status quo is such that by the time an individual is in a position to enact change, they are so thoroughly vested in the traditional way of working that the risks are too great to rock the boat. Clayton Christensen has talked a lot about this phenomenon as it relates to business and later health care. When someone else is committed to cyclic, ongoing innovation, those less willing to be disrupted always lose in the end.
I would like to think NPs could and should be that injection of creative thinking and of unbiased appraisal without predilection. But perhaps this whole blog is all shallowly subconscious supposition about my worthiness for the Rehab Supervisor position. Regardless, I think valuation of our time and expertise should extend beyond current clinical contributions and incorporate the capacity we have for disruptive innovation. I would like to see what more NPs rocking boats would do to our health care climate, PT and non-PT alike.
To finish, I would like to share an anecdote, courtesy of my mother, about our demographic's potential contribution to society if we were valued a little more highly. During a discussion about stimulus packages a few months ago, my mother made the clearly brilliant suggestion that forgiving graduate student loan debt would be an exceedingly effective way of boosting the economy. This is why my mother might have made a better Senator than Social Worker. She observed that people in their late twenties are usually in the process of accumulating 'stuff' and are often constrained in their purchases by lingering loan debt. I couldn't agree with her more. I, for one, would take many more trips across the country and purchase more goods and services if I weren't climbing out of a giant pit of Emory loans. I'll keep you posted if she decides to come out of retirement and run for office.