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News » Nurse turnover costs U.S. hospitals millions annually

Nurse turnover costs U.S. hospitals millions annually

WASHINGTON, UNITED STATES — American hospitals lose an average of $3.9 million to $5.8 million annually due to bedside registered nurse (RN) turnovers, according to a new report.

The 2024 NSI National Health Care Retention & RN Staffing Report, which surveyed 400 hospitals across 36 states, found that the average cost of turnover for an RN grew to $56,300 in 2023, up 7.5% from the previous year. 

“Each percent change in RN turnover stands to cost or save the average hospital $262,500 per year,” the report stated.

The national RN turnover rate decreased by 4.6% in 2023 to 18.4%, but the vacancy rate remains high at 9.9%. 

According to the report, recruiting an experienced RN takes over three months, “with med/surg presenting the greatest challenge.”

Over the past five years, RNs in step-down, emergency, and telemetry departments were most mobile, with a cumulative turnover rate between 112% and 119%. 

“Essentially, these departments will turn over their entire RN staff in less than four and a half years,” the report said. 

RNs in pediatrics, surgical services, and women’s health were less mobile in 2023, with turnover rates of 13.3%, 15.4%, and 16.3%, respectively.

To fill in workforce gaps, hospitals have turned to outsourcing virtual nurses. These nurses take care of administrative tasks such as patient check-in, inquiries, and discharge, among others.

Over the years, their role has evolved to ambient patient monitoring.  This has allowed floor nurses to focus on other tasks and reduce burnout.

“It will help healthcare organizations retain experienced nurses who no longer want to work 12-hour shifts at the bedside,” said Sandy Alexander, RN, an associate nursing officer at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

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