U of Arkansas for Medical Sciences offers $25K signing bonus for nurses

Amid a worker shortage and the latest COVID-19 wave, Little Rock-based University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences is offering a $25,000 signing bonus for nurses, CNN reported Aug. 5.

The signing bonus incentive, which is for experienced nurses who are hired to work in 24/7 critical care areas, comes as UAMS has about 360 vacancies for healthcare providers, including 230 for nurses, Cam Patterson, MD, chancellor of UAMS, told the station. He said some workers have walked away in the middle of their shift because they "couldn't take it anymore." 

"Teams are stretched thin. People are frustrated. People are very tired," Dr. Patterson told CNN. "We are down a significant number of positions here, because we just don't have enough nurses that we can recruit to come here and help us to take care of patients."

To qualify for the $25,000 signing bonus, nurses must have experience working in an acute care hospital, according to UAMS spokesperson Leslie Taylor. She said the signing bonus is paid out over three years and was implemented to keep pace with bonuses being offered by other hospitals.

In addition to the $25,000 signing bonus, UAMS also offers an $18,000 referral bonus for registered nurses currently working in the hospital who refer another experienced registered nurse who comes to work in a 24/7 area. That also is paid over three years.  

"COVID-19 has certainly exacerbated the nursing shortage and we are very proud of the job our nurses in our COVID-19 units, the ICUs and other areas are doing right now in fighting this pandemic. Some of them are picking up extra shifts in those 24/7 areas because of COVID-19," Ms. Taylor told Becker's. "We try to compensate them when they do by paying them time and half plus an extra $300 per shift on weekdays and $400 per shift on the weekend."

This week, she said UAMS announced $10,000 retention bonuses paid out over a year for nurses who have been at the organization for at least three years and work in 24/7 in patient units, the emergency department and procedural areas. 

The UAMS health system includes UAMS Medical Center in Little Rock and family medical centers throughout Arkansas.

More information about the bonuses is available here. To read the full report, click here

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