CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The never ending recruitment of nurses at one of the state’s largest hospitals is showing better results so far this year.

Charleston Area Medical Center (CAMC) has hired 152 nurses in recent months and the turnover rate so far this calendar year is at 2.8 percent, down from 2017’s 9.6 percent, according to CAMC Chief Nursing Officer Heidi Edwards.

“I do believe that we’re beginning to see some pretty significant improvements. It’s a multi-faceted approach,” Edwards said.

During the past year, CAMC has teamed with the CAMC Foundation to finance tuition assistance for RN students and student loan forgiveness to the tune of $2.5 million a year for the next five years. The tuition assistance program targets up to 100 students who could get as much as $30,000 in assistance. It comes with a commitment to work at CAMC for three to five years.

It’s those programs and others that have shown some recruitment and retention improvements, CAMC Workforce Development and Planning Manager Anita Ferguson said.

“It’s that three to five years that we are holding on to staff and if they stay here at least that three to five years then our turnover sees a definite decrease,” she said.

Another item that could help with retention is CAMC’s push to earn Magnet status from the American Nurses’ Credentialing Center (ANCC).

“Lots of schools tell nursing students to go look for hospitals to work at that have achieved Magnet designation simply because they are known to be the best at nursing engagement, nursing retention and overall quality of nursing care,” Edwards said.

CAMC already satisfies a lot of criteria and Edwards said they hope to earn the designation in the months ahead once all of the requirements are met. WVU Medicine J.W. Ruby Memorial Hospital is the only Magnet hospital in West Virginia.

CAMC, which employees 1,300 nurses, has about 150 vacancies. Officials hope some of the those vacancies will be filled by nurse externs once they graduate from college. The hospital currently has 113 nurse externs.

The biggest need for nurses currently at CAMC is in the areas of medical-surgical and Telemetry, Edwards said.

Recently graduated nurses go through a six-month residency program at the hospital before they are given a full load of responsibilities.

Both Edwards and Ferguson agree recruitment of nurses never stops. CAMC would like to hire 175 to 200 nurses this year if possible. It’s a highly competitive industry and today’s incoming nurses aren’t afraid to speak their minds, Edwards said.

“This is a different generational voice in many cases and the way they like to learn and the way they like to work is different than what we’ve seen in the past and we have to consistently innovate and evolve to meet their needs,” she said.

CAMC eliminated approximately 300 non-nursing positions last year.

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