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Published on March 16, 2018

Registered nurse jobs are projected to grow 15 percent between 2016 to 2026, much faster than the average for all occupations, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Melody Dickerson, Chief Nursing Officer for Virginia Hospital Center, recently spoke with the Washington Business Journal about Virginia Hospital Center's efforts to retain and recruit the best nurses in the Washington, DC metro area.

Article Highlights:

In the past year, Virginia Hospital Center has drastically reduced its number of contract nurses, which cost three times the amount of staffed nurses, by focusing on referrals. All but one department should stop using contract nurses by June, said Chief Nursing Officer Melody Dickerson. Virginia Hospital Center nurses are offered $10,000 per referral they make that results in a new hire of a full-time nurse co-worker. The hospital purposefully does not offer signing bonuses, which Dickerson said can encourage job-hopping between hospitals. A few months ago, the hospital started increasing its nursing referral bonus, now up to $10,000 for a full-time hire. "That sends a different message," Dickerson said, "that we value the nurses that are here, and they should bring in other nurses who they'd want to work with."
In January, the hospital launched a residency program for recruiting and training new nurses. It also has a $3 million endowment that can only be tapped for programs that support or train nurses.
Virginia Hospital Center also emphasizes it's recognition as a Magnet hospital - a "gold standard" designation by the American Nurses Credentialing Center, an arm of the American Nurses Association, to measure quality and satisfaction of nursing staff.
If any nurse indicates they are thinking of leaving, Virginia Hospital Center leaders have increasingly sat down with them to talk about talent development and figure out pathways to other jobs they may be seeking in other departments, for instance. "I don't care where you are in the facility, as long as I keep you," Dickerson said.

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