Amidst burnout, staffing shortages, UVA Medical Center offers nurses bonuses

Published: Jul. 16, 2021 at 6:13 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - COVID-19 case numbers are going down, but turnover rates at University of Virginia Medical Center remain high. Nurses continue working hard, but they are feeling the effects of these efforts.

“I think that there was a lot of burnout during COVID, and perhaps we’re just now feeling the effects of that,” Registered Nurse Jackie Keller said. “And so I, in some ways I think that people might be more stressed now with less help they were, at least that’s how I feel.”

The impact is hitting now because there is a delay between the time nurses leave, and the time it takes to onboard new ones. Nurses have to go through an orientation after they are hired before they can actually start, and fill the shortages.

“It can be physically more demanding when you don’t have as much help because you tend to like overwork your body more than you really should or would like to, so that’s one of the things that happens,” Keller said.

Many nurses have left because of burnout, or to become travel nurses instead.

“Travelers just in general make a lot of money,” Keller said. “Being a traveler is really enticing when it comes to the money so I think there’s that too so if you’re sort of burnt out and you need a change and you still want to be a nurse, you know you can make money and see what other hospitals are doing.”

Nurses are also leaving because of the high cost of living in Charlottesville. UVA Health recognizes the negative turnover trends and is trying to help. It was announced Friday nurses will be receiving bonuses.

“UVA is facing challenges and recruiting and retaining nurses and that’s really because the pandemic, COVID, we’ve been 18 months, you know in a very stressful situation,” CEO of UVA Medical Center Wendy Horton said. “It’s really important that we make sure that we’re caring for nurses.”

Bonuses will come August 13, but nurses are the only frontline workers at the hospital receiving this benefit right now.

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