Nurses in the money?

State nurses earn well over the national average

Nurses in California have seen a significant increase in their salaries due to overtime pay, with most nurses making well above the national average.

The majority of the overtime pay is concentrated in prison and mental-health-care settings, where nurses have worked longer hours due to reduced staffs and prison hunger strikes that required extra attention, according to California Healthline. The state has paid nurses about $424 million in overtime pay since 2005 and $98.7 million in 2010 alone. One nurse made $331,346 in 2008, aided by $211,257 in overtime. The national average nursing salary is $67,720.

Kathy Gaither, the acting chief deputy director of the Department of Mental Health, said plans to overhaul California’s mental-health-care system will make staff-to-patient ratios more flexible. The state has also employed a management team to identify factors leading to high overtime rates.