Hospitals Offering Big Bonus Plans To Find New Workers In A Tight Job Market

CNN Money) — Five-figure signing bonuses, free housing, college tuition for employees and their children.

Hospitals and other medical facilities are getting so desperate to recruit and retain nurses they’re offering all sorts of pricey perks and incentives.

“These are some of the grandiose examples we’ve heard from our members,” said Seun Ross, director of nursing practice and work environment at the American Nurses Association. “Who knows what employers will come up with next?”

America is undergoing a massive nursing shortage. Not only are experienced nurses retiring at a rapid clip, but there aren’t enough new nursing graduates to replenish the workforce, said Ross.

The nation’s aging population is exacerbating the problem. The American Nurses Association estimates the U.S. will need to produce more than one million new registered nurses by 2022 to fulfill the country’s health care needs.

UCHealth, which operates nine acute-care hospitals and more than 100 clinics across Colorado, Wyoming, and Nebraska, currently has 330 openings for registered nurses. Since the nonprofit health system can’t find all the nurses it needs locally, it has been seeking out candidates from other states — and sometimes other countries.

To entice these new recruits, it has offered relocation allowances and signing bonuses of up to $10,000, said Kathy Howell, chief nursing executive for UCHealth.

UCHealth is trying to sweeten the pot in other ways, as well. It provides nurses with up to $4,000 a year to invest in continuing education. And it offers the Traveler RN program, which allows nurses to do a 13-week rotation at different UCHealth facilities.

Meanwhile, across the country, Inova Health System is offering candidates who have at least two years of critical care experience and live more than 50 miles from one of its six Washington, D.C.-area hospitals a $20,000 sign-on bonus and up to $20,000 in reimbursable relocation costs, said chief nursing officer Maureen E. Sintich. Candidates who live within 50 miles of one of Inova’s hiring hospitals are offered a $10,000 signing bonus.

This fall, West Virginia’s WVU Medicine, which operates eight hospitals in the state, will start offering tuition reimbursement for employees and their children.

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News Reporter