Mercy Health, a 23-hospital system based in Cincinnati, has launched a student loan repayment program to attract and retain nurses in hard-to-fill roles, according to WVXU.
Due to tough competition for nurses and an increase in voluntary turnover, Mercy Health typically has between 1,500 and 2,000 openings for nursing positions. “We’ve seen voluntary turnover of almost 18 percent,” Allan Calonge, Mercy Health’s human resources vice president, told WVXU. “That’s quite a bit higher than it has been historically.”
Officials hope the new student loan repayment program will help address the problem. Mercy will make monthly contributions toward outstanding student loan debt for nurses who qualify. The system will contribute up to $20,000 to each nurse’s loans, according to WLWT.
“Talented nurses are vital to ensuring the health and well-being of our patients,” Mr. Calonge told WLWT. “Our new student loan repayment program is a win-win for us and our nurses.”
The pediatric unit at Mercy Children’s Hospital in St. Louis will give nurses summers off work in an effort to retain staff, KMOV reports.
The nurses who choose the seasonal staffing option would still work full-time — three shifts per week for the pediatric unit’s nine-month busy season (September through May). The nurses can take off from June through August, while keeping full-time benefits, and return to their jobs in September.
“It’s exciting to see what the nurses, coming back to the unit after having three months off and doing whatever they want to do, the excitement they are going to have, the rejuvenation for their practice, maybe having a new spark, interest [or] excitement for nursing,” Justin Travis, the nurse manager for pediatrics at Mercy Children’s, told KMOV.
Seasonal staff will receive a stipend every two weeks to cover insurance costs. They also can use accrued paid time off to pay themselves during the summer and work extra hospital shifts as needed, Mr. Travis said.
The hospital is recruiting pediatric nurses for the positions. The contract year would begin in September, meaning the nurses’ first summer off would be next year.
Hospital officials said they may expand seasonal staffing options to other departments if it works in pediatrics