According to a report by NSI Nursing Solutions, Inc., the registered nurse (RN) turnover rate in 2022 remained high at 22.5 percent, resulting in hospitals losing millions of dollars. Resignations accounted for 94.7 percent of hospital exits, with personal reasons, career advancement, and relocation as the most common reasons. Hospitals raised the RN pay scale and put in place effective compensation plans to address these staffing issues. Despite indications of continued labor shortages, hospitals expect to increase their labor force and RN complement and anticipate an increase in recruitment budget and staff.
A new report from NSI Nursing Solutions, Inc. reveals that despite healthcare employment gradually recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic, the registered nurse (RN) turnover rate in 2022 remained high at 22.5 percent. This resulted in hospitals losing millions of dollars. The report reflects survey responses from 273 hospitals across 35 states, representing over 730,000 healthcare workers and more than 200,000 RNs. The hospitals reported data from January through December 2022.
Hospitals were able to regain 5.65 percent of the workforce that was lost during the “Great Resignation” in 2022, which translated to 975,000 employees. The number of workers leaving their jobs declined in the later part of 2022, leading to reduced hospital turnover. However, the hospital turnover rate decreased by only 3.2 percent from 2021 and remained high at 22.7 percent in 2022. Labor competition, provider burnout, and retirement still pose retention challenges.
Resignations accounted for 94.7 percent of hospital exits, with personal reasons, career advancement, and relocation as the most common reasons. Workers also reported leaving their jobs due to salary, retirement, and scheduling reasons.
The RN workforce gained 142,000 workers back in 2022, for a 4.17 percent add rate. RN turnover increased by 8.4 percent in 2021 but fell by 4.6 percent to 22.5 percent in 2022. The median turnover rate was 21.7 percent, ranging from 6.5 percent to 64.5 percent.
According to the report, the average cost of a turnover for a staff RN is $52,350 and ranges from $40,200 to $64,500. With the 22.5 percent turnover rate, the average hospital lost $8.55 million in 2022, ranging from $6.57 million to $10.53 million. Each percent change in RN turnover will either cost or save the average hospital $380,600 annually.
To manage these staffing challenges, hospitals implemented strategies such as asking RNs to volunteer for overtime, authorizing critical staffing pay, relying on travel nurses, and increasing the RN salary scale. Respondents noted that the compensation programs relative to critical staffing were the most successful strategies.
Within the RN workforce, telemetry, step-down, and medical/surgical RN turnover were the highest and exceeded the national average. The report predicted that in less than five years, the telemetry, behavioural health, and emergency services departments would likely replace all of its registered nurses.
The current RN vacancy rate is 15.7 percent, while the RN Recruitment Difficulty Index ranges from 61 to 120 days. These figures indicate that hospitals will continue to face labor shortages.
Despite these indications, hospitals have hopeful plans for the future. Sixty-two percent of hospitals expect to increase their labor force, and 69 percent expect to increase their RN complement. Additionally, 37 percent of hospitals anticipate an increase in the recruitment budget, while 20 percent plan to boost their recruitment staff.