Some nurses earn more than doctors

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Certified nurse anesthetists (CRNAs) earn more per year than the average family doctor.

According to a study by Merritt Hawkins & Associates, a physician recruiting and consulting firm, the average base salary for a CRNA in 2009 was $189,000, while the average base salary for a primary care physician was only $173,000.  The trend is expected to continue into 210, with annual salaries estimated at $186,000 for CRNAs and $178,000 for family physicians.

While representatives of Merritt Hawkins are concerned that the income disparity may discourage young physicians from specializing in primary care — at a time when primary care providers are desperately needed — the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists insists that CRNAs are fairly compensated for highly specialized work.

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