Nursing shortage prompts St. Louis hospital to offer summers off

(Credit: CNN)

Across the country, hospitals are struggling with a nurse shortage. Now, a St. Louis hospital is trying a new way to attract and keep pediatric nurses, by giving them the summer off work!

The pediatric unit at Mercy Children's Hospital in St. Louis is rolling out the new staffing option. The department’s nurse manager explains census is usually low in the summer. The busy months in pediatrics is September through May, during the school year and flu season. So, the nurses who take the seasonal staffing option would still work full-time, which is three shifts a week, for those nine months. But, when June rolls around, they can take off, and keep full-time benefits. Their job is guaranteed again in September.

“It’s exciting to see what the nurses, coming back to the unit after having three months off and doing whatever they want to do, the excitement they are going to have, the rejuvenation for their practice, maybe having a new spark, interest, excitement for nursing,” said Justin Travis, the nurse manager for pediatrics at Mercy Children’s Hospital in St. Louis.

The seasonal staff will receive a stipend every two weeks to help cover insurance costs and can use any accrued paid time off to pay themselves during the summer. They can also choose to pick up additional shifts at the hospital.

“I’ve heard nurses say, ‘I can stay home with my kids all summer. We have Six Flags passes.’ I’ve heard nurses say, ‘I’m going to go to Italy for the summer’ Or ‘I’m going to go to California and be a nurse there for the summer.’ Other nurses say they will take the summer off and pick up shifts here as needed,” said Travis.

Travis said this isn’t only a good option for the nurses who want summer off. It’s also a win for nurses who want to pick up more shifts in the summer, but with census so low, they wouldn’t be able to if everyone was vying for those hours.

Mercy is looking to interview pediatric nurses for the positions now. The contract year would start in September 2018, meaning their first summer off would be next year.

Mercy leaders said if it works in pediatrics, they may try to expand seasonal staffing to other departments in the future.

If you are interested in learning more about the pediatric seasonal staffing positions, you can contact recruiter Stephanie Royer at Stephanie.royer@mercy.net .

Copyright 2018 KMOV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved

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