- Hospitals across the country are struggling to fill tens of thousands of vacant nursing positions.
- Some hospitals are offering sign-on bonuses and lucrative hourly rates to entice nurses.
- As nurses struggle with burnout and rising COVID cases, staff shortages can put patients at risk.
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As states are gripped by a dire nursing shortage, some hospitals are offering sign-on bonuses of up to $US40,000 ($AU55,490), better benefits, and hefty hourly rates to lure nurses through the doors.
Though a nursing shortage has been looming for years, the pandemic accelerated the number of nurses quitting the workforce and retiring early, as burnout and fear of contracting COVID-19 worsened working conditions.
While the Delta variant rages and COVID-19 cases tick up, unfilled nursing positions can overburden nurses already working in hospitals and cause the quality of care for patients to plummet. As hospitals grapple with the surging coronavirus and a staffing shortage, a gunshot patient in Houston had to wait hours to receive surgery while a Mississippi hospital began setting up beds in a parking garage, according to The New York Times.
To help plug shortages, Monument Health in South Dakota is offering a $US40,000 ($AU55,490) bonus for intensive care and operating room nurses, despite the median pay for nurses in the state lingering at $US55,660 ($AU77,214) a year, according to the Watertown Public Opinion. Allegheny Health Network in Pennsylvania offers $US15,000 ($AU20,809) sign-on bonuses and many nursing jobs in Indiana offer $US7,500 ($AU10,404) sign-on bonuses.
Others are offering bonuses to current nurses, hiking pay, and offering more pay for those willing to work extra shifts, according to TribLive. However, when many vacancies are in positions requiring high levels of experience, extra perks and bonuses may only go so far.
In Florida, 70% of hospitals are facing critical staffing shortages as the number of COVID cases in the state surge, and there are 23,000 more vacancies in Texas than there are nurses to fill them, according to Becker’s Hospital Review.