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Published on November 02, 2015

Barnstable comes up big for registered nursesBarnstable comes up big for registered nurses

If you are a registered nurse, when it comes to great places to work it doesn’t get much better than in Massachusetts – and Cape Cod.

A recent study of 377 locations nationwide identified six Massachusetts towns, including the town of Barnstable, that are among the top 25 best places to be a nurse. The study was based on average salaries, cost of living and job demand. California was second with five locations.

The study, which was first reported in the Boston Globe and was conducted by ValuePenguin, a consumer and career research company, rated the town of Barnstable as the 15th “best city” across the country for registered nurses. Nurses in Barnstable earn on average $79,730 annually, compared to a national average of $69,790.

“What this study demonstrates is that you don’t have to work in a big city to earn excellent compensation within a healthcare system with world-class nurses and doctors, state-of-the-art technology and an environment that welcomes ideas and values work,” said Emily Schorer, vice president of human resources at Cape Cod Healthcare.

Many of the nurses working in the town of Barnstable, work at Cape Cod Hospital, which is a member of Cape Cod Healthcare.

“Barnstable far outpaced many large and mid-sized cities like New York, Philadelphia and Baltimore,” Schorer said.

The essential registered nurse

Registered nurses are essential, according to Judy Quinn, vice president for patient care and chief nursing officer at Cape Cod Hospital.

“They are highly educated and trained to be responsible for the plan of care for each patient. They work collaboratively with physicians to carry out their orders, administer medications and treatments, communicate with families of the patients and plan discharges from the hospital among other duties. They will be found in virtually every department in the hospitals,” she said.

The ValuePenguin study, which was released last week, noted that earnings represent only one factor in their ratings – given the relative costs of living from one city to another. For example, registered nurses in Boston make about 14 percent more than those on Cape Cod, but Boston’s cost of living was 30 percent higher, according to the study.

“A high salary in an expensive city may be less attractive than a lower salary in an affordable town,” explained ValuePenguin.

To measure cost of living, the study established a base index of 100. Boston had a 145, making it 45 percent more expensive than an average U.S. city for registered nurses. Barnstable, by comparison, registered at 103.

A third factor in measuring the best places for a registered nurse to work and live is the demand for their services. Demand on Cape Cod is virtually the same as in Boston, which ranked number eight on the ValuePenguin list, according to the study.

“Our compensation package at Cape Cod Healthcare hasn’t happened by accident,” said Schorer. “We pay very close attention to what’s going on in the market and work hard to attract high caliber professionals. A competitive salary is terrific, and we offer that – but to be able to work for an organization you respect, to live within a wonderful community in a beautiful geographic location, to have good quality of life – that’s the complete package you get here and it’s just part of what I think differentiates us from other healthcare systems.”

While Boston hospitals do pay registered nurses more, “we often find that nurses prefer to work here because of easier commutes, saving time and money,” said Quinn. “One nurse from Boston told me she paid $300 a month just for parking, yet still had to take a bus another 40 minutes from there to the hospital.”

The challenge facing most hospitals, including those on the Cape, is to continually reinforce the current corps of registered nurses because many are nearing retirement, said Quinn. Cape Cod Healthcare is in the midst of an active recruitment campaign, and “is always looking for talented nurses,” she added.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, registered nursing is listed among the top occupations in terms of job growth through 2022. Their numbers are expected to grow from 2.71 million in 2012 to 3.24 million by 2022.

“Today, most registered nurses earn four-year bachelor’s degrees. We recently hired 20 new RN’s who were at the top of their classes at college – extremely bright and motivated men and women,” Quinn said.