Nurses needed: Hospitals offer big signing bonuses

ATLANTA — Hospitals all over metro Atlanta are trying to lure new nurses by offering signing bonuses upwards of $10,000-$20,000.

Industry leaders say a major nursing shortage forced them to come up with the incentives.

“You have to have a strong mind and a tough stomach to do the things that nurses do,” said Emory nursing student Jessica Goza.

Goza says she knows when she graduates next year she will be in high demand because there aren’t enough nurses in the industry right now.

“It's a very scary thing we're facing because if you don't have a qualified nurse at the bedside we know what happens,” Linda McCauley said.

McCauley is the dean of Emory's nursing school. She says 97 percent of her students are now landing jobs within six weeks of graduating.

“Even a small shortage in a geographic area, you're going to feel it,” she said.

That’s exactly what is happening in metro Atlanta. Channel 2’s Erin Coleman checked with major hospital systems like Piedmont and Wellstar, which are now offering signing bonuses, relocation packages and more to get experienced nurses on board.

“We have up to $10,000 for most of our specialty areas,” said Megan Groover, assistant VP of talent acquisition for Wellstar.

Groover says nurses must agree to stay for two years to qualify for the bonus. Right now, labor and delivery and catheterization lab nurses are just some of those in high demand.

For Goza this all means she'll be entering the workforce at a great time, and she says she can't wait.

“I think I’m learning to be a part of something that's larger than myself, and that to me is so inspiring,” Goza said.

So far, Wellstar leaders say the incentives appear to be working. They've hired 500 nurses in past year, which helps keep the hospital competitive.