Nursing Shortage Prompts ‘Bidding War’ Between Hospitals
The nation's nursing shortage has prompted hospitals to enter a "bidding war" to attract nurses, "selling themselves through advertisements, job fairs" and billboards, the New York Times reports. In addition, hospitals have begun to offer incentives such as flexible hours and signing bonuses to recruit nurses. Hospitals nationwide have 126,000 nursing vacancies, or 12% of capacity, with the number expected to triple over the next 10 years, according to the American Hospital Association. According to the American Nurses Association, hospital nursing salaries, which have "stayed relatively flat" for a decade, have contributed to the problem. As a result, some hospitals have increased bonuses offered to nurses who accept a position. In April, for example, the Health Alliance of Greater Cincinnati began to offer bonuses of $30,000 over three years to attract nurses with specialized skills. Other hospitals also have begun to offer large one-time bonuses or, in some cases, thousands of dollars for a down payment on a new home. Many hospital administrators criticize one-time bonuses, "saying they encourage nurses to take the money, then quit months later to get another bonus somewhere else." They also point out that the bonuses do not expand the number of nurses, improve working conditions or attract more college graduates into the nursing profession -- issues that have contributed in large part to the nursing shortage. "We're recruiting these people into a profession that's broken," Susan Bianchi-Sand, director of United American Nurses, the nation's largest nurses' union, said, adding, "The system needs to be fixed so people not only want to come in, they want to stay." The problem has forced many states to spend more for nursing schools and recruitment. In addition, federal lawmakers have proposed legislation that would provide $136.7 million for nursing scholarships, loan repayments and recruitment grants (Janofsky, New York Times, 5/28).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.