Montana raises nurse pay by 17% at state hospital in effort to retain, recruit staff

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The state health department is increasing entry-level nurse wages by 17 percent at Warm Springs-based Montana State Hospital in an attempt to boost recruitment and retention, reports The Montana Standard.

The wage increase is effective immediately at the psychiatric hospital, the Montana Nurses Association said June 10, according to the Standard. The increase raises wages to $37.65 per hour, compared to the previous $32. Nurses with two or more years of experience will now make $38.70.

The increases were based on compensation comparisons of other similar psychiatric hospital employers, reports the nurse association. 

There are currently 36 non-management openings for registered nurses at the hospital, a state health department spokesperson said June 10. The hospital currently serves about 174 patients. 

Vicky Byrd, MSN, RN, CEO of the Montana Nurses Association, applauded the bump to remedy the hospital's chronic staffing shortage.

"They have a seemingly insurmountable vacancy rate," Ms. Byrd told the Standard. "Mental illness is really difficult work. It's not for everyone, so we really praise the nurses who have stuck it out and stayed there." 

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