The cost of nurse turnover in 24 numbers | 2024

Nurse shortages and mounting labor costs are among health system CEOs' top concerns, and a new survey puts numbers to the financial risks hospitals face from nurse vacancies and churn. 

The 2024 NSI National Health Care Retention & RN Staffing Report features input from 400 hospitals in 36 states on registered nurse turnover, retention, vacancy rates, recruitment metrics and staffing strategies. 

It found the average cost of turnover for one staff RN grew from January through December 2023 to $56,300, 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 24 numbers that illustrate the cost of nurse turnover, according to the most recent edition of the report, which is available in full here

1. The turnover rate for staff RNs decreased by 4.6% in 2023, resulting in a national average of 18.4%. Given varying bed size, RN turnover can range from 5.6% to 38.8%.

2. The average cost of turnover for a staff RN increased by 7.5% in the past year to $56,300, with a range of $45,100 to $67,500. This is up from the average cost of turnover for an RN in 2022, which was $52,350.

3. Each percent change in RN turnover stands to cost or save the average hospital $262,500 per year. 

4. The RN vacancy rate sits at 9.9% nationally. This marks an improvement, as hospitals hired an additional 153,000 RNs in 2023 and lowered the vacancy rate by 5.8%

5. The average time to recruit an experienced RN ranges from 59 to 109 days, with the average for 2023 sitting at 86 days — nine days quicker than the year prior. 

7. Every region represented in the 2024 report recorded a decrease to RN turnover, ranging from -1% to -5.1%. The South Central region 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, and telemetry were most mobile with a cumulative turnover rate between 112% and 119%. "Essentially, these departments will turn over their entire RN staff in less than four and a half years," the report states. 

9. RNs in pediatrics, surgical services, and women's health were less mobile, with 2023 turnover rates of 13.3%, 15.4% and 16.3%, respectively.

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