February 1, 2017

University of Missouri Health Care is working on a “cure” for the shortage of nurses and health care professionals in central Missouri.

The health system announced a recruitment and retention plan for 2017 to attract more nurses and health professionals to Columbia.

One of the most unique features of the plan for 2017 is a student loan repayment program.

“Many nurses and health professionals worry about student loans, and beginning March 1, we will offer $10,000 toward student loan debt for nurses and health professionals who agree to work in clinical units where we are experiencing high patient volumes,” said Peter Callan, director of talent acquisition for MU Health Care.

The student loan repayment plan will also be available to nurses and other health care professionals who presently work at MU Health Care in specific high-volume areas.

New hires and current employees who qualify for the student loan repayment program will receive monthly payments of $166.66 directly applied to their loan principal, up to a total of $10,000.

“Our patient volumes have been trending upward for the last five years,” Callan said. “As an academic health center, MU Health Care receives patients from every county in the state of Missouri. With more than 600 physicians, we specialize in treating patients with the most complex illnesses and injuries. For that reason, community hospitals often transfer patients needing advanced specialty care to MU Health Care.”

“Our 2017 initiatives are designed to recruit and retain not only registered nurses and LPNs, but also respiratory therapists, certified medical assistants and genetic counselors,” Callan said.

Other incentives include:

  • Beginning March 1, a retention reward will be offered to health care professionals who do not have student loans to repay. Qualified employees will receive $2,000 at the end of each year of service up to a total of $10,000. The retention award will also be available to nurses and health care professionals who presently work at MU Health Care in specific high-volume areas.
  • Beginning Feb. 1, a referral reward for non-supervisory employees of MU Health Care who refer qualified professionals to work in high-volume areas, specifically:
    • Referral award for experienced registered nurses – $10,000
    • Referral award for experienced registered respiratory therapists – $5,000
    • Referral award for experienced licensed practical nurses or certified medical assistants – $3,000
    • Referral award for experienced genetic counselors – $5,000

MU Health Care non-supervisory employees who successfully recruit a qualified health care experienced professional to work full time for MU Health Care will be entered into a drawing for an all-expenses-paid trip for four to Hawaii. The drawing will be held in early November.

  • Beginning March 1, an enhanced weekend-only program will allow registered nurses who agree to work on weekends to earn $8 more per hour. Weekend nurses will work 47 weekends per year, one weekend less than previously required. This enhanced weekend program will enable more nurses to work the shifts they desire: weekends or weekdays.

In addition to the incentives, MU Health Care is also offering a registered nurse refresher course in 2017. The course is available to RNs who have left clinical care but want to return to work at the bedside. After a skills and general knowledge evaluation, RNs will receive paid training and then placed in one of the targeted areas.

“We were thrilled with the results of last year’s recruitment initiatives,” Callan said. “We designed our 2017 recruitment and retention initiative to build on our 2016 success. By adding incentives like a student loan repayment program and a retention reward, we are confident we will meet our expected need for RNs and health professionals in 2017.”

The 2016 recruitment and retention initiatives:

  • Increased the recruitment of experienced registered nurses by 51 percent, from 77 to 116, from 2015 to 2016
  • Resulted in the hiring of 172 new nurse graduates in 2016
  • Resulted in 21 MU Health system employees earned $10,000 or $5,000 awards for recruiting registered nurses.
  • A staff nurse at Ellis Fischel Cancer Center won a drawing for a trip to Hawaii for referring a qualified nurse who was hired at MU Health Care. She plans to take her husband and her two children on the Hawaii trip this spring.

MU Health Care currently employs 1,369 RNs.

For more information, email nurserecruitment@missouri.edu or call 573-882-9084.