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Use your mouse wheel, keyboard arrow keys, or scroll bar to move up and down in an article. salary survey reveals nurses’ willingness to relocate
Millennials most likely to make the move
Lisette Hilton
More than half of U.S. nurses — 53% — would at least consider moving out of state for a job, according to’s salary survey
, representing responses from 4,522 RNs from all 50 states.
Although high percentages in all generations of nurses indicate they’d move, millennial nurses surveyed are most likely — at 59%. Not far behind, 56% of Generation Xers indicated they would definitely move or consider moving, followed by 43% of baby boomers. The survey data, collected in summer 2017, suggests more than half of millennial and Gen X nurses are not actively looking for new jobs but considering changing employers. When adding passive job seekers to those actively looking to change employers, it leaves about a third of nurses in each generation who are not considering a change. Ken Shanahan, MSN, RN, CCRN-K, clinical nurse director of cardiovascular services at Tufts Medical Center, Boston, said he’s happy living and working in Boston. His family moved there because his wife is from Boston and wanted to be near her family. But he and his family would consider a move if the right opportunity popped up, Shanahan said. A nurse for 17 years, Shanahan, 39, said he would consider a move if an employer offered the right mix of job potential, tuition reimbursement and student loan forgiveness. “I got my masters at George Washington University, but eventually I’d like to go for my PhD,” he said. “What I would be looking for is an institution that would invest in me and either pay off some of my student loans or contribute significantly to the cost of the PhD. I didn’t graduate that long ago and my student loans are three times less than [than those of] some of the new grads. They’re coming out with $100,000 in debt. It’s going to take a lifetime to pay off.”
Location matters more than you think
Location does matter when it comes to relocation potential, according to the survey. States where nurses are most likely to say they definitely would move out of state, according to our survey, includes —
Third is New Mexico at 34%
Vermont comes in fourth at 33%
West Virginia and Kentucky tied at 26%
One-fifth of nurses in Arizona, Indiana, Mississippi and Tennessee indicated they would definitely make the out-of-state move.
Illinois and New Hampshire tied at 28%
Alaska comes in first at 41%
About 25% from Maryland, Delaware, Ohio and Nevada each would move
Wyoming comes in second at 40%
The findings are in line with what Shanahan finds with hiring and retaining nurses in Boston. “Boston is very traditional and we don’t have a lot of turnover,” he said. Shanahan believes it’s part of the culture in the Northeast, where people tend to stay close to home. As close as Washington, D.C., where Shanahan used to work, the culture is different. Employers there might experience complete turnover of an ICU staff in a couple of year, he said. The turnover also is high in Tennessee, where Shanahan says he recruits nurses for Tufts. “I started hiring new grads in the ICU probably four years ago,” Shanahan said. “And I’ve retained 100%, which is so odd. Retention in Boston is pretty good, whereas in other parts of the country, it’s not.” Nurses, who graduate nursing schools and want to stay in Boston might have a harder time finding work because of the low turnover, and they’ll often leave to go to other states, only to be hired years later when openings arise by employers like Tufts, Shanahan said.
In another survey question, respondents were asked if they would consider moving.
Iowa and Utah tied at 46%
Wisconsin came in fourth at 45%
District of Columbia came in sixth at 43%
Oklahoma came in eighth at 40%
Montana, Oregon and Vermont tied at 44 %
Wyoming came in first, where 60% of respondents would consider leaving the state
Alabama, Missouri, New York and Rhode Island tied at 42%
Second was Mississippi at 49%
Colorado, South Carolina and Virginia rounded out the top states at 38%
Georgia, New Jersey and Washington tied at 39%
But not all research suggests nurses are a mobile group. In fact, research done by faculty at New York University Rory Meyers College of Nursing suggests nurses are a relatively immobile group of workers. “In a survey of newly licensed registered nurses in 15 states, [researchers] found that 52.5% work within 40 miles of where they attended high school,” Amy Witkoski Stimpfel, PhD, RN, assistant professor at NYU Rory Meyers College of Nursing said in an email to “Given that nurses, along with other healthcare providers, are often needed most in rural, underserved parts of the country, strong recruitment strategies in those areas may be particularly warranted.”
Recruitment and retention tips to take to heart
Based on the survey’s findings about relocation, staff recommends these strategies for boosting nurse recruitment and retention:
Match your relocation and recruitment packages to the states with nurses who are most likely to consider moving for jobs.
Offer your staff nurses extra benefits or salary to retain them, especially if they are in a state with a higher likelihood of relocation. Extra benefits are often cheaper than recruitment.
Don’t forget to reach out to passive job seekers with your strategy. Almost half of nurses from all generations would change jobs if the right opportunity was offered.
Recruitment and retention strategies
Witkoski Stimpfel notes many years of research has shown that the professional practice environment is a critical factor in nurse recruitment and retention. “In the 1980s there was a huge nursing shortage, yet, some hospitals were still able to recruit and retain nurses,” she said in the email. “Researchers have identified features of what is now known as Magnet recognition, from the American Nurses Credentialing Center, and core to these hospitals is a supportive professional practice environment. This is translated into concrete features, like having adequate staffing and resources, strong nursing leadership and positive interprofessional relationships.” Salary and benefits may be able to help recruit nurses, Witkoski Stimpfel said, but the organization of nursing at the hospital is likely what will retain the nurses.
Witkoski Stimpfel said based on her own research, using a survey of more than 22,000 nurses, nurses who are overworked because of such things as long shifts and overtime, are more likely to be burned out and dissatisfied with their jobs. They’re also more likely to want to leave their jobs. Shanahan adds even Boston might have to get more competitive with recruiting and retaining nurses in the future. “In other parts of the country we’re seeing $20,000 to $40,000 hiring bonuses,” he said. Education is a big issue, Shanahan said. And strategies to keep nursing staff educated and value higher education would help in that regard, he said. Out-of-the-box thinking might incentivize nurses to move to and stay in big cities, where cost of living can be an issue with a nurse’s salary, according to Shanahan. One idea that he has considered but hasn’t yet proposed is to renovate existing hospital buildings into apartment complexes, where new nurses are subsidized to live and become acclimated to the city. Cost of living for New York City is a major factor for nurses relocating there, Witkoski Stimpfel said in her email. And housing subsidies, tuition benefits and commuting allowances could help offset expenses in similar areas with high costs of living.
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Lisette Hilton is a freelance writer.
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