PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- A staffing shortage is forcing UPMC to get creative.
The hospital giant just announced a groundbreaking travel nursing program, aimed at keeping and attracting in-demand nurses.
UPMC told KDKA-TV it thinks this might be a first in the healthcare industry. Eight hundred new spots just opened up Friday, and UPMC said it hopes this will stop its nurses from looking elsewhere.
"We need to be innovative; we need to be willing to find new ideas, and we need to be bold about it," UPMC Senior Vice President of Health Services Tami Minnier said. "This is very bold. This is not a small endeavor that we're undertaking here. We know we have to try."
UMPC decided Friday to give local nurses an opportunity to land the incentives, to scratch that traveling itch, but do so while staying with UPMC, for about $7,000 a week.
Minnier, herself a longtime nurse, said the move can impact hospitals in three states.
"Pennsylvania, New York and Maryland, we have hospitals in, and we recognize it takes a couple months to get licenses in different states," she said. "So over the course of the first few months who we hire, we will ask that they become eventually licensed in all three states, and then be willing to move about. You might have six weeks at UPMC-Chautauqua, and then six weeks in Harrisburg at UPMC-Pinnacle."
The program will open up 800 travel nursing spots. To put it in perspective, there are 8,000 nurses across UPMC. The one catch: Current nurses interested in the program will not get to save and later return to their current floor or home hospital.
"You really do have to leave the unit that you're on, and that's what we think is fair," Minner said. "If you're going to be paid differently than the nurse beside you who is coming to the same unit every day, then you need to behave differently, right? You need to take on additional risk and movement. So we essentially will not permit staff to even go back to their home hospital for six months."
UPMC said it's also planning on increasing pay and offering incentives for nurses who pick up extra shifts and work weekends, anything to keep the nurses they currently have, and attract new ones to fill those 2,000 open spots.
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