With registered nurses critically needed in the northeast Indiana region, Lutheran Hospital has chosen to offer a $25,000 signing bonus. Parkview Hospital

Here’s a look at how different health systems are reacting to the shortage.

Lutheran Health Network

A recent online search of health care jobs for nurses and allied health staff revealed several postings with large signing bonuses for Lutheran Health Network (LHN). The online job board indeed.com posted positions for registered nurses and surgical technologists. Signing bonuses of up to $25,000 and up to $15,000, respectively, were offered.

“We have many initiatives in place to recruit and retain registered nurses, who comprise a significant part of the care team,” Natalie Seaber, RN MHA, CNML, regional chief nursing officer for Lutheran Health Network, said. “In an effort to recruit more registered nurses to this area, Lutheran Health Network is offering a sign-on incentive up to $25,000 for full-time, critically needed registered nurses.”

The number of critically needed nurses does change. It is based on need and is confidential, she said.

However, both nurses and various allied health staff are needed in several areas.

“Based on the growing needs in our community, registered nurses, surgical technicians, certified medical assistants and certified nursing assistants remain in demand,” Seaber said.

According to indeed.com job postings, the LHN openings for nurses included the Rehabilitation Hospital, 7970 W. Jefferson Blvd., offering up to $25,000 signing bonuses.

Another indeed.com job posting for medical-surgical nurses included a $4,000 relocation bonus and up to a $25,000 signing bonus but did not specify a facility or facilities where the vacancies were.

An indeed.com posting for surgical technologists offering up to a $15,000 signing bonus specified openings at Dupont Hospital, 2520 E. Dupont Road.

“The program, which is supported by each entity within Lutheran Health Network, requires a two-year commitment for registered nurses who accept an applicable full-time position. Lutheran Health Network also supports additional incentive programs for non-nursing clinical staff,” she said.

Parkview Health

Similarly, Parkview Health has a signing bonus for nurses and allied health staff.

“We have a generous sign-on bonus for nurses and other high-demand roles,” Jeffrey Rice, director, talent acquisition, Parkview Health, said. “We feel our sign-on bonus is competitive with other health care providers. The amount varies based on the position.” He added, “Because the amount varies, it is disclosed during the hiring process. We can also be flexible with what we offer, if needed, depending on the situation.”

The value of signing bonuses is not lost on health care providers or qualified job applicants.

“Sign-on bonuses are beneficial not only to recruitment, but also to retention efforts. So, the value is two-fold,” Rice said.

Besides signing bonuses, a positive workplace culture entices new hires. Additionally, management responsive to staff concerns as new situations arise, like the pandemic, further lure new employees.

“Beyond that, many candidates are attracted to Parkview by our culture of excellent care — not only our patients, but also our co-workers. We had a competitive benefits package prior to the pandemic, but in the past six months, we’ve added more support for our co-workers, including resources for childcare, mental health and other needs,” Rice said.

Besides signing bonuses and updated benefits, several other initiatives are in place at Parkview Health for attracting skilled staff.

“Knowing nurse recruitment was going to be a challenge nationwide, two years ago Parkview ramped up its talent attraction initiatives,” Rice said. “We have been able to meet our patient care needs with efforts such as expanding our recruiting footprint geographically, strengthening our partnership with area schools offering nursing programs, and using social and digital media marketing to connect with passive candidates — individuals who are qualified for a role but aren’t actively looking for a new job.”

Signing bonuses for allied health staff is a big draw for new hires considering a multitude of openings at various health care facilities.

Like nursing, the market for other clinical roles is also competitive, meaning there are more jobs than candidates. With the same talent attraction initiatives (used to attract nursing staff), “we have been able to meet our needs for allied health staff,” he said.

“Some of the most in-demand roles are in lab, respiratory therapy, diagnostic imaging and EMS, as well as surgical technologists and other positions,” Rice said.

Despite the challenges in meeting staffing needs, patients can still expect to receive the care needed to hasten their recovery.

“We have sufficient staff to meet patient care needs at all our facilities. However, the job market for nurses is competitive. Right now, there is a higher demand for nurses and other clinical positions than there are applicants,” Rice said.

Cameron Community Memorial Hospital

Meanwhile, another area hospital uses a different strategy to attract qualified candidates.

“Our low turnover and vacancy rates do not meet the criteria for large bonuses,” Kelly (Keirns) Hammons, executive director of strategy and development said. “Nurses make the choice to work at Cameron due to the great work environment, competitive pay and culture without a sign-on bonus. Our rate of pay, programs and work environment are extremely competitive and nursing ratios are amongst the best in the country, comparatively.”

Cameron Memorial Community Hospital, in Angola lake country, relies on its reputation to attract and retain qualified nurses.

Part of a statement from Cameron Memorial Community Hospital reads, “We currently only have one nursing opening that is in the process of being filled. So, we enjoy extremely low vacancy rates — best it has been in years — even with the nursing shortages. Lately, as soon as there is an opening, we get many applicants and it is filled rapidly.”

The statement was jointly prepared by Hammons and Angela M. Logan, MSN,RN, PCCN, senior VP of nursing/CNO.

Besides a good work atmosphere and competitive wages, Cameron relies on its reputation to draw nurses from other metropolitan areas.

The statement further reads, “We have had a high percentage of nurses that have come from other markets, including Fort Wayne, to work at Cameron based on our reputation. Cameron has had very few nurses take the bonus opportunity, less than other hospitals, which is still a very small number.”

Finally, while taking care of patients is a top priority, CMCH also focuses on taking care of staff.

“Our goal is to continue to take care of our own while offering at or better than market options for nurses,” Hammons said.

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