RAPID CITY, S.D. — With median pay for nurses ranked lowest in the nation and pandemic burnout resulting in more than 2,500 nurses leaving the states workforce, South Dakota’s three major healthcare providers are having to get creative to attract and retain employees.
In Rapid City, Monument Health has started paying bonuses for signing, retention, and referrals. Officials say the health system has accelerated the time line for wage reviews and raises.
Within the last year, Monument Health has implemented tuition assistance and loan repayment programs to offset the cost of education.
“We do loan repayment programs, so if someone comes to us with some student debt from a program they had previously, we make direct payments to their student loan,” says Vice President of Human Resources Trina Allen.
Some out-of-the-box thinking resulted in Monument leasing 24 apartments in Rapid City to provide guaranteed housing for potential workers – helping to remove barriers for those coming in.
“Just knowing that if they accepted a position that they had a place guaranteed that they could live in really helped them take that step to accept the position,” Elle Larsen, director of real estate at Monument Health.
Monument Health officials say that while hiring is an internal issue, one of the problems they’re facing is people coming in to work but not finding their niche in the community. They say it’s a community effort to welcome these people into schools, churches, and other organizations to make them feel welcome.
Monument has even hired a community relations person to address the problem.
“So when someone comes here from another state and they don’t know what they’re looking for in South Dakota yet, we have this person who helps them what’s important to them – churches, activities, a place to live, friend groups, those sorts of things,” Allen says.
Allen says Monument has about 200 open positions for nurses and nursing support staff.