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St. Louis hospital offers nurses summers off to retain staff

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The pediatric unit at Mercy Children's Hospital in St. Louis will give nurses summers off work in an effort to retain staff, KMOV reports.

The nurses who choose the seasonal staffing option would still work full-time — three shifts per week for the pediatric unit's nine-month busy season (September through May). The nurses can take off from June through August, while keeping full-time benefits, and return to their jobs in September. 

"It's exciting to see what the nurses, coming back to the unit after having three months off and doing whatever they want to do, the excitement they are going to have, the rejuvenation for their practice, maybe having a new spark, interest [or] excitement for nursing," Justin Travis, the nurse manager for pediatrics at Mercy Children's, told KMOV.

Seasonal staff will receive a stipend every two weeks to cover insurance costs. They also can use accrued paid time off to pay themselves during the summer and work extra hospital shifts as needed, Mr. Travis said.

The hospital is recruiting pediatric nurses for the positions. The contract year would begin in September, meaning the nurses' first summer off would be next year.

Hospital officials said they may expand seasonal staffing options to other departments if it works in pediatrics.

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