Hospitals turn to five figure bonuses and other perks to attract nurses

Nurses in demand as nation faces massive shortage
Posted at 6:55 PM, Apr 06, 2018

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Nurses are in demand. Hospitals across the nation are seeing a massive nursing shortage. They are turning to big dollar perks to attract more nurses.

Veteran nurse Denise Vaughn packed up her life in New Mexico moving 1,800 miles away to St. Petersburg. Today, she’s finishing up orientation at Johns Hopkins All children’s Hospital. She knew she’d work here after seeing just one number on a job posting.

“I immediately jumped up and down and said 'Yes! I will come work for you,'” she said.
The number she's talking about is a $15,000 sign-on bonus. Plus, $10,000 for referring other nurses, moving expenses and tuition assistance. She’s even using the extra money toward buying a house. These recruiting perks and incentives are getting more creative as a response to one concerning problem.

“I would say that the entire United States is facing a serious nursing shortage," said Carol McDaniel, director of talent acquisition for All Children's.

It’s such a big problem that the American Nurses Association estimates the U.S. will need to produce more than one million new registered nurses by 2022 to fulfill the country's health care need. Right now, All Children's has more than 50 open nursing positions. But jobs seekers are taking notice. On average this St. Pete hospital gets about 3,000 nursing applications every month.

“it’s a great time to be a nurse actually," said McDaniel

It’s not just All Children's. Florida Hospital North Pinellas is also offering sign-up bonuses depending on the position:

ICU RN – $10,000
Surgery RN – $10,000
Surgery Tech Certified – $5,000
Sterile Processing Tech – $5,000

They also include moving expenses and off recruitment bonuses to current employees who help identify candidates.

Tampa General is also boasting some perks:

Cardiovascular thoracic Operating Room nurses can get up to a $15,000 sign-on bonus and up to $5,000 relocation assistance as needed for out of town candidates, plus, referral bonuses.

The hospital also includes $16,000 tuition pre-paid after 6 months of employment, $1,500 skills enhancement program to cover costs of on-going license and certification courses.

Their Clinical Ladder program offers nurses the ability to earn an extra 4, 8, 12, and 16% through participation in additional programs. Finally, nurses can make up to 24% extra for covering weekend and overnight shifts.

But one hospital we heard back from is not such a big fan of this growing trend. Instead, they warn that perks and incentives above the dotted line will lead to another problem.

Sarasota Memorial Health Care System says they do not offer bonuses or perks. While they do provide moving expenses for some nurses, depending on the position and distance they are moving, their efforts are more focused on providing the best practice environment for nurses to practice and advance their profession.

"Financial incentives can exacerbate turnover. Nurses remain in jobs just long enough to claim their prizes before moving to other hospitals with better incentives. Rather, we strive to create an environment that supports nurses’ professional development and organization-wide initiatives that lead to higher quality nursing care. That, in turn, helps increase nursing satisfaction and retention."

“It’s an equal balance, I don’t find that to be a situation here at all," responded McDaniel.

Vaughn says perks like the ones she took advantage of could only help hospitals.

“You have to get the nurses in order for them to know that you have the incentives to stay," she said.