Florida, Georgia health systems offering nurse sign-on bonuses

Health systems in Georgia and Southwest Florida are offering nurses sign-on bonuses amounting to tens of thousands of dollars and/or relocation assistance amid efforts to address staffing needs. 

Naples, Fla.-based NCH Healthcare system said it is hiring nurses to fill hundreds of open positions. As of June 22, the organization had about 450 open nursing positions, including new seasonal positions. Of those open positions (based on data from June 18), NCH had five advanced nurse practitioner positions, 147 registered nurse positions to include next year seasonal positions, and 12 licensed practical nurse positions open, the health system said. About 20 job offers were pending.

To continue to boost staffing, NCH is offering sign-on bonuses ranging from $500 to $20,000. Inpatient acute care RNs (bedside), night shift, is such a position offering $20,000.

"The pandemic is the primary reason for the staff shortage we currently face, and the bonuses we are consequently offering to further enhance the reasons that candidates would select NCH to work at," NCH Chief Human Resource Officer Renee Thigpen told Becker's. "Organizations across the country are competing for a smaller pipeline of talent, and many experienced nurses have left the field or retired. Sign-on bonuses are something that have been used for decades and ramp up and down based on shortages."

Florida Hospital Association President and CEO Mary Mayhew also said that staffing and challenges filling clinical vacancies are issues at organizations statewide and across the country.  

She told Becker's in a statement: "Many systems report issues filling vacancies in nursing, as many are choosing to retire. Others are switching employment to staffing agencies which are promising much higher pay and bonuses. This is making it more difficult to hire clinical staff and leading to the cost of nursing in some hospitals to significantly increase. More recently, there have also been challenges with filling vacancies for entry-level positions as well. Hospitals are working locally to recruit these positions and are offering staff development programs that will support professional growth within their organization. This is part of the retention strategy as well."

In addition to sign-on bonuses, NCH said it has also offered a 5 percent across-the-board market pay increase (excluding executives and providers), zero-dollar premiums for employee health insurance benefits, paid time off cash-out at 100 percent, and free meals monthly to all staff, as part of efforts to attract and retain workers. 

In Georgia, Piedmont Healthcare is offering qualified nurses the opportunity to earn up to $30,000 in sign-on bonuses and/or relocation assistance with a commitment that extends through a two-year period, the Atlanta-based health system said. 

Piedmont said offering enhanced sign-on bonuses "has penetrated the market and encouraged travel nurses to come off the road and has encouraged nurses outside the state to come to Georgia for full-time employment with our organization."

The health system said it intends to continue the offering through July.

Fort Myers, Fla.-based Lee Health said it is also offering money for relocation expenses (up to $9,200) for bedside nurses, depending on the job. 

Currently, the health system has 415 bedside nurse open jobs systemwide, including Lee Memorial Hospital, Cape Coral Hospital, Gulf Coast Medical Center, Golisano's Children's Hospital and HealthPark Medical Center. Nurses are needed in areas such as medical/surgical, oncology, emergency department and the intensive care unit.

Lee Health said it also is seeking physicians and advanced providers.

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