UCHealth, Inova Health System offer nurses 5-figure signing bonuses to solve shortage

In the wake of the nationwide nursing shortage, hospitals and other healthcare facilities, including Aurora, Colo.-based UCHealth and Falls Church, Va.-based Inova Health System, are offering large incentive packages to recruit and retain nurses, according to a CNNMoney report.

To fulfill the nation's growing healthcare needs, the U.S. will have to produce over one million new registered nurses by 2022, according to the American Nurses Association.

UCHealth, a nine-hospital, nonprofit health system that operates over 100 clinics across Colorado, Wyoming, and Nebraska, currently has 330 openings for RNs. UCHealth is struggling to find nurses locally and has been looking for candidates from other states and countries.

The health system is now offering new recruits relocation allowances and signing bonuses of up to $10,000, which provides nurses with up to $4,000 annually to invest in continuing education, Kathy Howell, BSN, RN, chief nursing executive for UCHealth, told CNNMoney. It also offers the Traveler RN program, which allows nurses to complete a 13-week rotation at different UCHealth facilities.

Inova Health System, a six-hospital system based in the Washington, D.C., metro area, is offering candidates who have at least two years of critical care experience and live over 50 miles from one of its hospitals a $20,000 sign-on bonus and up to $20,000 in reimbursable relocation costs, CNO Maureen Sintich, DNP, RN, told CNNMoney.

In addition, Morgantown-based WVU Medicine, an eight hospital-system in West Virginia, will begin offering tuition reimbursement for employees and their children this fall. WVU aims to hire 200 nurses and will also offer free housing to some of its nurses as part of its commuter program.

However, Seun Ross, MSN, DNP, director of nursing practice and work environment at the American Nurses Association, is concerned these bonuses and perks may not be enough to retain nurses long-term. "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," Dr. Ross said.

Dr. Ross suggests for health systems to invest in career development, offering better pay and improving the nursing work environment to make sure nurses avoid burnout. "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," Dr. Ross said.

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