The cost of nurse turnover by the numbers

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The COVID-19 pandemic wore down registered nurses, causing many to leave and retire early, leaving vacant spots in hospitals. Due to this, hospitals have been paying astronomical prices in turnover costs, according to the "2021 NSI National Health Care Retention & RN Staffing Report."

In this report, 226 facilities from 37 states participated and were asked to report data from January to December 2020. The survey covers 501,764 healthcare workers and 144,300 registered nurses.

Here are 10 important facts about the cost of nurse turnover, by the numbers:

1. Since 2016, the average hospital turned over about 90 percent of its workforce and 83 percent of its RN staff.

2. In 2020, the turnover rate for staff RNs was at 18.7 percent, a 2.8 percentage point increase from 2019.

3. The average cost of turnover for a bedside RN is $40,038 and ranges from $28,400 to $51,700, causing a hospital to lose $3.6 million to $6.5 million per year. Each percent change in RN turnover costs or saves the average hospital $270,800 per year.

4. Hospitals in the Southeast had the highest RN turnover rate of 24.9 percent, a 7.2 percentage point increase from 2019. The Northeast had the lowest turnover rate of 13.2 percent, a 0.6 percentage point decrease from 2019.

5. Hospitals with 200 to 349 beds had the highest RN turnover rate of 22.9 percent, a 5.8 percentage point increase from 2019. Hospitals with more than 500 beds had the lowest turnover rate of 17.4 percent, a 2.1 percentage point increase from 2019.

6. RN turnover depends on specialty. Step-down had a turnover rate of 24.4 percent in 2020, compared to 18.5 percent in 2019. Behavior health had a turnover rate of 22.7 percent in 2020, compared to 20.6 percent in 2019. Emergency had a turnover rate of 20 percent in 2020, compared to 18.5 percent in 2019.

7. It also depends on tenure. About 24 percent of RN turnover are those in their first year. Those with more than five years had a higher level of commitment, accounting for about 14 percent of turnover.

8. The top three reasons for RNs resigning were relocation and career advancement tied for first and retirement as the third reason. This is the first time retirement has been in the top three.

9. The RN vacancy rate is almost a full point higher than 2020 at 9.9 percent, and 62 percent of hospitals have an RN vacancy rate of higher than 7.5 percent, brought on by the economy and COVID-19.

10. Hospitals are turning to travel nurses, who receive an average hourly rate of $120 an hour. For every 20 travel RNs eliminated, the average hospital can save $3,083,600. According to Sumner College, travel nurses made on average $1,673 per week pre-pandemic. Now, they can get more than $4,000 per week in some cases.

 

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