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Children’s Hospital & Medical Center last year started paying up to $3,000 to employees who make referrals for most nursing positions; Bryan Medical Center in Lincoln, Nebraska Medicine and Madonna Rehabilitation Hospitals also offer referral bonuses. Methodist and CHI offer both types of bonuses, with CHI paying a $5,000 sign-on bonus over two years. Several organizations have extended sign-on bonuses just for hard-to-fill positions. At Madonna, it’s the night shift. Children’s has used them for specialties such as pediatric and neonatal intensive care and home care. “It’s definitely a tough market right now for getting RN’s,” said Jennifer Howard, director of nurse staffing and development for Madonna Rehabilitation Hospitals. “And it’s only going to get tougher.” Because of its growth, the market is more competitive in Omaha than in Lincoln, said Howard, who recruits in both. The shortage, however, hasn’t slowed Madonna’s efforts to scale up operations at its Omaha facility, which opened in October. Though pay for nurses varies with experience, degrees earned and shifts worked, wages generally are good, said UNMC’s Sebastian. They’re similar across Nebraska and equivalent across the country, when adjusted for cost of living.

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