With a new contract set to kick in this month, the first 12 doctors to join the profession have all had their pay increased by $600 a month.
Dr Chris Stokes, a former nurse who joined the practice in July, has been earning $1,100 a week, with a salary increase of $400 a month, in line with his colleagues.
It means he can now pay his daughter, who was born in December, the same amount of money he did.
Stokes, who had previously been earning a salary of $2,000 a week in the US, says the pay increase has meant he can take time off work to raise her.
“I can spend time with her at home, and she’s learning to drive, and I can have a really good time with my family, and spend time doing things that I enjoy,” he said.
“And I don’t think that’s an issue.”
Dr Chris, who has been teaching at the Royal Melbourne Hospital for nine years, says it is an honour to have his colleagues earn more than he did, despite his current contract.
I think it’s a great achievement for the profession and it’s great for the country.
Dr Chris Stoke, an RN, who joined RN Practice at the hospital in July.
And while the new deal is expected to be a significant boost for the industry, it may also leave some doctors with a sour taste.
The average doctor pays about $8,500 a year in salary and benefits, with most earning about $4,000, according to the Australian Medical Association.
In a statement, RN Australia general secretary Mark Brown said it was “important to recognise that the rise in pay in the past year has been a response to the dramatic reduction in the number of new nurses entering the profession”.
“However, it is also important to recognise there are also other ways in which pay has increased in the last 12 months which may have contributed to the current pay rise,” he wrote.
He said the increase was the result of an increase in the proportion of nurses with experience working in a hospital setting, and “an increase in training opportunities for nurses”.
“We have been encouraging the increase in RNs’ skills over the past 12 months, which is also reflected in the rise of RNs earning a higher pay rate than their peers,” he added.
However, a survey of more than 4,000 RNs by the Royal Australasian College of Nursing found that more than half (52 per cent) said their pay was too low, with half (49 per cent), a quarter (23 per cent, or 935 RNs) and one in four (18 per cent of all RNs, or 12,858) of those surveyed saying they felt they were underpaid.
“It’s a matter of feeling good about your job, knowing you’re making a good living, and having confidence in your profession,” said Dr Stephen Waugh, the dean of the RNs at the University of Melbourne.
“Most of the time the pay rises are driven by changes in practice or a change in the recruitment strategy of a new hospital or clinic, but I think there is still a lot of scope for improvement.”
Dr Paul Farr, a professor of health policy and management at the Griffith University, said he believed the recent pay rise was “a reflection of the way the industry has changed in recent years”.
“If you look at the past 10 years, we have seen an increase of about $10,000 in the salary and an increase by almost $4 million in benefits,” he told Fox Sports.
“We haven’t seen a rise in the overall number of people entering the health industry in Australia.”
Dr Paul, who also runs the Australian Health and Medical Research Council’s Australia Health Research Council, said the current wage rate was “exceptionally low” compared to other countries.
“[The wage] was really, really low and I think it reflects the way people in the industry work,” he explained.
There is a strong correlation between the level of pay a doctor earns and how many hours he or she works.
If a doctor is working around 12 hours a week and makes $80,000 per year, a salary that is equivalent to about $6,000 an hour in the United States, that doctor would earn $18,000 over the course of their career.
But Dr Waugh said there were “very few doctors who can make that much money”.
“The problem with doctors is that they don’t know what their job is going to be in five years time, and so they’re not going to know what they need to be doing in order to be paid what they should be paid in that year,” he continued.
According to the OECD, the average salary for a nurse is about $23,000.
Dr Waugh has also questioned why the government has not made better use of