Journal of Nursing

Nurses Signing Bonuses Start Again- First Time Since Recession


Here is a sign that nurses are demand.

A senior living center is offering a signing bonus to nurses hired for a new program at a free bed rehabilitation hospital, and the nearby senior living community, in Grand Rapids.

Registered Nurses can pocket $2,000 while Competency Evaluated Nursing Assistants are eligible for bonuses of $500.

This center reserves signing bonuses for when the living assistance operator is trying to recruit a large number of nurses.

"The reason we are doing it is because we want to attract the best and brightest, most talented employees," said Lori Portfleet, the regional vice president for West Michigan.

The senior living center is collaborating with the free bed rehabilitation hospital on the 48-bed skilled nursing facility on the hospital's fifth floor that will provide sub-acute rehabilitation and is designed to help adult patients recover from injuries and return to their homes.

"It adds to the continuum of care that the free bed offers hospital offers," said Portfleet. "Right now, their inpatient beds are acute rehabilitation beds."

While signing bonuses are relatively rare in the profession, most nursing students have no trouble finding a job, said Janet Winter, Associate Dean of an undergraduate nursing program.

More than 96 percent of the 197 undergrad nursing students who graduated from a college of nursing last year now have jobs. The rate bumps up to 100 percent for students who finish graduate nursing programs.

One reason for the increased demand for new nurses is the profession will see a mass exodus of experienced nurses in the coming years.

A recent survey notes that fewer nurses are renewing their licenses, and for the first time in a decade the number of nurses licensed by the state has decreased. Since 2013, the number of RNs fell by 2.2 percent. That departure rate is expected to snowball in coming years because the number of nurses 55 years or older has jumped to 39 percent from 34 percent in 2012.

One of the state's biggest health care employers with about 12,887 RNs in its workforce, typically doesn't offer signing bonuses for staff nurses at its hospitals.

"In general, we are not experiencing a shortage of RNs," said Bruce Rossman, a spokesman. "However, there may be times when it takes us longer to fill an advanced practice nurse position."

Their signing bonus is only available to the first 15 RNs and and first 50 CENAs hired.

The small print on the bonuses says they will be paid over time.

For CENAs, $250 is paid after 3 months and the final $250 after 6 months on the job. The bonus for the RNs is spread out over a year: $500 at 3 months, another $500 after 6 months and the final $1,000 after a year employment.

The company also offers a $500 referral bonus to its employees.

Beginning pay is $13.25 for CENAs, and varies for RNs depending on experience, Portfleet said.


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