The cost of nurse turnover in 23 numbers

Nurse recruitment and retention is top of mind for every hospital and health system executive in 2022, particularly those responsible for ensuring health systems' financial stability. 

The 2022 NSI National Health Care Retention & RN Staffing Report features input from 272 hospitals in 32 states on registered nurse turnover, retention, vacancy rates, recruitment metrics and staffing strategies. It found the average cost of turnover for one staff RN increased 15 percent from 2020 to 2021, to $46,100, among other dollar figures and statistics that are helpful to understand the financial implications of one of healthcare's most challenging labor disruptions. 

Here are 23 numbers that illustrate the cost of nurse turnover, according to the most recent edition of the report, which can be found in full here.  

1. In 2021, the turnover rate for staff RNs increased by 8.4 percent, resulting in a national average of 27.1 percent

2. The average cost of turnover for a staff RN is $46,100, with the range averaging $33,900 to $58,300. This is up from the average cost of turnover for an RN in 2020, which was $40,038

3. Each percent change in RN turnover will cost or save the average hospital $262,300 per year. 

4. More than 60 percent of respondents said the RN vacancy rate in their hospital tops 15 percent; 6.5 percent said they have an RN vacancy rate of less than 5 percent

5. The RN Recruitment Difficulty Index is 87 days on average, regardless of specialty, meaning it essentially takes 3 months to recruit an experienced RN.

6. For every 20 travel RNs eliminated, a hospital can save $4,203,000 on average.

7. From 2020 to 2021, the percent change in regional RN turnover ranged from 3.2 percent to 12.2 percent. The Northeast saw the high end of this range while the North Central region saw the low end.

8. Over the past five years, RNs in step down, emergency services, behavioral health and telemetry were most mobile with a cumulative turnover rate between 101.3 percent and 111.4 percent. "Essentially, every five years, these departments will turn over their entire RN staff," the report states. 

9. RNs in surgical services, women's health and pediatrics were less mobile, with 2021 turnover rates of 18.8 percent, 19.5 percent and 19.6 percent, respectively, compared to the national average of 27.1 percent

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