Five-figure signing bonuses, free housing, college tuition for employees and their children? Hospitals and other medical facilities are offering all sorts of pricey perks and incentives to recruit and retain nurses according to a recent piece on CNN Money.
The article states that "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?"
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.
The article also states that the American Nurses Association's Ross worries that rich bonuses and creative perks may not go far enough to retain nurses in the long run.
"What's to stop nurses from accepting a job because of the perks and then hop to another hospital after two years because of their perks," she said.
A better approach would be to invest in improving the work environment for nurses and offering better pay, career development and hours to help make sure they don't burn out, she said.
"All it takes is for one nurse to tell her friend that where she works is a great place for these reasons and applications will come in," Ross said.
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