Bismarck Nursing Excellence

A Champion for Nurses

The future of nursing at Sanford Health is filled with possibilities and potential – that is a direct result of our talented and dedicated nurses.

To every one of our valued nurses in the Bismarck region who do so much for our patients, residents, and communities, THANK YOU!

Together, we are working to make Sanford Bismarck the best place to work and to receive care.

Wendy Kopp


Wendy Kopp
Vice President of Nursing and Clinical Services
Sanford Bismarck

“It is important to recognize and acknowledge that the challenges we face have never been greater. I am proud of our nurses and all the front-line health care team members for their commitment to providing safe, quality care to some of the most complex patients we have ever seen over the past few years.

While our lives have changed, the resilience and resolve displayed by our Sanford nurses has not. It is an honor to lead nurses whose level of expertise and dedication have been simply amazing.

Our Sanford leadership team is committed to supporting nurses during these challenging times in healthcare. The future at Sanford Health remains bright because of the dedication demonstrated by our nurses today and every day. Thank you to all our nurses for all they have done, and continue to do, to help those who come to us in a time of need.”


What We're Doing for Nurses

Professional Growth and Development

We believe in investing in educational and leadership programs that develop RNs for future leadership roles and always strive to promote from within. Nurses at Sanford Health Bismarck are supported by people who value professional growth and development.

Professional Development
Professional development opportunities include:

  • Certification course fee support
  • Tuition reimbursement
  • Free continuing education session (Elsevier, Sanford sponsored conferences)
  • Support of research and evidence-based practice (EBP)
  • Annual education

Nurse Internship Program
The Sanford Student Nurse Internship Program is a hands-on, 10-week, paid internship that will expand clinical skills and knowledge under the guidance of an experienced nurse preceptor.

Nurse Residency Program
The Sanford Health Nurse Residency Program (NRP) is accredited with distinction as a Practice Transition Program by the American Nurses Credentialing Center’s Commission on Accreditation in Practice Transition Programs. All new RN graduates that are hired into a facility with the program are enrolled.

The program provides nurse residents with strategies for personal growth and well-being while also developing clinical judgment and leadership skills. The 12-month program is offered in association with the Vizient/AACN Nurse Residency Program.

Continuing Education
We offer a variety of in-person and virtual continuing education credits and educational offerings that cover many specialties. Many of these are offered free or at reduced costs for employees. CNA, LPN and RN sponsorships, annual scholarships and an employee assistance program are available to help current and future nursing staff with furthering their education. Learn more about scholarships.

Specialty Certifications
Sanford Health is committed to assisting our nurses with achieving their national certification by providing preparation courses, as well as assisting with costs associated for the initial certification and recertification. Additional information on certification can be found on the following websites:

Leadership Opportunities
Sanford Health Bismarck is continually looking for nurses to work in key leadership roles and leadership training, mentoring, coaching and precepting opportunities are provided at all levels.

All nurses from informal leaders to executives can take part in The Sanford Leader leadership development programs. The Sanford Leader is built around three key principles: Leading Self, Leading Others, and Leading Mission. Offerings include:

  • Leadership Development Pathways (Informal, Formal, Senior, and Executive).
  • Leadership Self-Assessment (Built based upon the leadership pathways).
  • Leadership Development Guides (Using content from Franklin Covey as the foundation).
  • Leader individual coaching with certified coaches with the ability to create a custom leader development plan.
  • Crucial Conversations Training.
  • Data-driven leadership development webinars based upon organizational employee engagement surveys.
  • Myers-Briggs and Gallup Strengths Assessments.
  • New Leader Orientation (including Getting Started, Leading Others, Leading Mission, and Fundamental Leadership Courses).
  • Leader Academy Cohorts (nomination based).
  • Monthly leadership newsletters based upon The Sanford Leader skillsets: communication, trust, excellence, people, accountability, engagement, business, customers, and values.

Sanford World Clinic Global Nurse Mentor Program
The Sanford World Clinic Global Nurse Mentor Program is an opportunity to impact care across the globe by participating in a shared learning experience with one of Sanford’s international partners. Recently, six Sanford nurses traveled overseas for global mentorship.

Grow, Succeed, Advance
There are many other areas of growth that Sanford Medical Center Bismarck nurses can use to prepare for career advancement while remaining in their current role. Through shared governance, there are a variety of councils, teams, and committees for involvement including:

  • Ambulatory Council
  • Advanced Practice Providers (APPs) Council
  • Education Council
  • Magnet Council
  • Night Council
  • Quality Council
  • Nursing Senate
  • Policy and Procedure Council
  • Professional Management Council
  • Interdisciplinary Council
  • Research/Evidence-Based Practice (EBP) Council

Many of these are made up of staff who share a common interest in solving the concerns or challenges associated with a variety of health care related topics. Local councils provide nurses with an opportunity to work with a variety of staff from different disciplines in the region, all of whom share a passion for improving care.

Flexible Scheduling

With a growing variety of needs within the organization, Sanford Health offers more flexible scheduling options than ever. We collaborate with our nurses to develop family-friendly schedules that allow them to thrive in both their professional and personal lives.

  • There are a variety of shared governance committees and councils in place at Sanford Health Bismarck that are used as an avenue to promote flexible schedules and options for work life balance.
  • A few examples of scheduling flexibility include: 4-hour, 6-hour, 8-hour, or 12-hour shifts, self-scheduling, weekend and straight night packages.

Competitive Wages and Benefits

Sanford Health has a long history of serving as an advocate for nurses. We are proud to recognize the important contributions of our nurses by offering competitive wages and benefits.

  • The average hourly base rate for RNs at Sanford Health Bismarck is competitive with the average hourly base rate of RNs across the North Central Region of the United States. Source: third party 2021 RN market salary surveys
  • Additional premiums and incentives that stack on top of this base rate are offered for nights, weekends, holidays, and on-call shifts.
  • Sanford Health Bismarck continues to make meaningful investments in base hourly rates to not only ensure starting pay is competitive but also to improve base hourly rates overall.
  • Sanford military employees are eligible for compensation during deployments, presidential recall to active duty, national or state emergencies, annual encampment or training in the National Guard or military reserves not to exceed a period of 12 months.

  • Sanford Health Bismarck nurses are eligible for full-time benefits if they work 60+hours per two-week pay period. Nurses working between 40-59 hours per pay period are eligible for part-time benefits.
  • Sanford Health Bismarck nurses are eligible for health, dental and vision insurance, as well as long-term disability and many other optional benefits.
  • For more details, review the summary of 2024 Bismarck Health and Welfare Benefits offerings.


Sanford Health embraces innovative solutions to address workforce challenges so our nurses can focus on the work they are most passionate about — caring for our patients and residents.

  • North Dakota has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country, and coupled with increases in patient volume and  length of stay, Sanford Bismarck Medical Center continually has a need to hire more nurses.
  • Nursing staffing shortages are widespread across the nation and innovative staffing solutions are needed to address the challenges of hiring enough nurses. Sanford continues to aggressively recruit and hire nurses to not only fill open positions but also address the growing needs of the Bismarck area and projected health care needs of an aging population.
  • Sanford Health Bismarck is committed to supporting safe patient ratios which align with national staffing standards. Staffing is supported by individually established staffing matrices and staffing policies.
  • Sanford Health Bismarck continues a multi-faceted approach to improve the talent pipeline. This includes partnerships with higher education organizations such as:
    • The University of North Dakota School of Medicine and Nursing:
      • Primary teaching institution
      • Advanced practice
      • Nursing
    • North Dakota State University:
      • Nursing affiliation
      • Pharmacy
    • University of Mary:
      • Advanced practice
      • Physical therapy
      • Occupational therapy
      • Nursing
    • Bismarck State College:
      • Lab technicians
      • Nursing
  • Aspire by Sanford reaches approximately 4,000 student encounters annually in the Bismarck region through K-12 career exploration programs and camps. Other program offerings include MedX. This program brings students within the walls of Sanford to experience different departments and careers in a firsthand experience. Students learn directly from staff employed in various health care careers.
    The program aims to help students interested in health care become familiar with many departments within Sanford, explore future post-secondary paths of study, and learn about health care careers they may not be aware of.
  • Sanford Health is exploring alternative pipelines by recruiting nurses from around the world to meet our staffing needs, now and into the future. These internationally educated nurses (IENs) will be employed with Sanford and are not contract staff. They receive the same pay and benefits as all other Sanford Health nurses.

    Bismarck team

    To date, 105 IENs have successfully started in Bismarck since the program’s inception, which is 62% of total nurses hired. Sanford Bismarck’s goal going forward is to secure 200 internationally trained RNs by the end of 2024.
  • Additional recruiting efforts include but are not limited to:
    • Expanded social media engagement including LinkedIn and Facebook.
    • Resume mining on Indeed and SeekOut to generate additional leads.
    • Increased presence on free job boards including Handshake, College Central and Featured Jobs.
    • Hosting events to attract local candidates and providing the opportunity to connect with local leaders face to face. 
  • In 2023, Sanford Bismarck has hired 250 external applicants in the registered nurse job family, which is nearly 58% higher than 2022.
  • During the same period, Sanford Bismarck has had 37 graduates from the Sanford Student Nursing Intern Program (SSNIP), 23 of which have been hired into RN positions (a 62% conversion rate). An additional 49 SSNIPs have accepted offers and will start in May 2024. 16 of the SSNIPs have transitioned into the Extended Sanford Student Nursing Intern Program (ESSNIP).
  • When necessary to support patient volumes, Sanford Bismarck will increase nurse travelers. To eliminate agency expense, and to provide opportunities for existing employees, Sanford recently launched a new internal travel agency, Solutions by Sanford.
  • Sanford leaders and frontline nurses work side-by-side to develop staffing plans for every single unit, with patient safety and quality always at the forefront. If there is ever a concern about staffing, our nursing leaders respond to understand and address the issue.

Sanford Health Bismarck is a Great Place to Work

With a commitment to diversity and inclusion, our journey as an organization includes continually building on the diverse talents, experiences, and beliefs of our employees, as well as the patients, residents, and communities we serve.

Employee Experience Survey
Nothing matters more to building a great culture than listening to our people and responding to their feedback. Employees have the opportunity to participate in the Employee Experience survey twice per year. Several organizational changes, including the introduction of a new working flexibly policy and changes to benefit offerings, were implemented because of our team’s feedback.

Sanford Health ranked in the top 25% of health care organizations on Peakon’s employee engagement platform for meaningful work and goal setting, scoring far above health care industry benchmarks. Here are a few recent comments from our Bismarck team:

“We have a wonderful team, and I am always assured my coworkers have my back and will help if needed. I do the same for them.”

“My coworkers are the best! Our department is amazing because of all the nurses and techs that work so hard every day. They are always willing to help and jump in when needed.”

“Sanford has supported me in many ways related to leadership classes, support from HR, supporting my higher education journey through graduate school and through a new internal fellowship opportunity that I am very much enjoying.”

“I absolutely love my job. I enjoy the tasks I do and my coworkers, from the clinic to operating room staff, charge nurses and management. A big satisfier is management. I could not do my job without the support of our management team. They make work fun and appreciate my input.”

Well-being matters. That’s why Sanford Health offers employees and their families access to a variety of resources for extra support whenever it is needed. Taking time to focus on the six dimensions of well-being (physical, emotional, spiritual, professional, financial, and social) allows employees and their families to thrive in all areas of life.

In partnership with VITAL WorkLife, Sanford's Employee Assistance Program (EAP) provides access to free counseling, coaching and 24/7 support services. Nurses and family members can access these services at their convenience including in-the-moment support, phone consultations, face-to-face counseling, nurse peer coaching, educator peer coaching, legal and financial services and identity theft prevention and support.

Zen Den
Sanford Health Bismarck recently announced the opening of a brand new "Zen Den," a wellness room dedicated to promoting well-being and providing respite for frontline direct patient care workers.

Zen Den in Bismarck

The Zen Den is a dedicated space at our medical center for staff on the frontlines of patient care. The 400-square-foot space is designed to provide a serene environment separate from a busy breakroom and allows frontline direct patient care staff to find respite from high stress situations they may encounter throughout a shift. The space features massage chairs, art therapy, wellness resources, aromatherapy, meditation, yoga and reading options.

The opening of the Zen Den is just one of the many steps we are taking to ensure staff have the support and resources needed for healthy work-life integration.

Workplace Violence Prevention
Sanford Health believes our hospitals and clinics should be places of safety and healing for caregivers, patients, and visitors. Sanford Bismarck Medical Center continually collaborates with nurses on preventative measures to reduce the potential for workplace violence. Focus areas include environmental controls, patient and visitor screening processes, and staff training.

Recently, the Workplace Violence Committee has been developed with frontline representatives focusing on efforts to improve patient and employee safety. In addition, the Behavioral Emergency Response Team has been implemented in the Medical Center.

Daycare Services
We recognize access to childcare continues to be a challenge for our employees and communities across our footprint. Earlier this year, Sanford Health convened a workgroup to find solutions addressing access to childcare at a local level. We have built a partnership with 3rd party childcare app Bambino to help employees find backup childcare solutions in our major markets, provided funding to translate recruitment fliers for in-home providers through Sanford CHILD Services, and bolstered our enterprise policy on expressing milk at work in addition to development of a knowledge article and leader guide to support team members as they return to work from a caregiver leave.

In Bismarck, we are currently partnering with YCD North and Wee Folk to have specific spots available for Sanford employees. While we are actively exploring and engaging in these and other tactics to increase access to childcare, due to regulatory and economic barriers, we are not currently exploring starting our own childcare facility on site in Bismarck.

To access Bambino services, download the app. There you can find, book, and pay babysitters directly through the app. Sitters listed in the app are run through ID verification and the national sex offender database. In addition, they must have a recommendation from a member of the community before receiving a request for a booking.

Resources to Support Safe, Quality and Highly Reliable Patient Care
In response to our nurse’s feedback, Sanford Health Bismarck has implemented several changes and resources to support safe patient care including:

  • Behavioral Emergency Response Team (BERT)
  • Evolv security system in ED
  • Patient placement 24/7
  • Security officers 24/7 in the ER
  • Avasure Telesitter remote monitoring for falls, safety
  • Focused Efforts to improve Code Blue resuscitation, team debriefing and early identification of patient deterioration
  • Throughput initiatives including newly opened Transition Unit

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DE&I)
With a renewed commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion, Sanford Health has significantly grown our diversity councils and multilingual capabilities, as well as advanced work focused on health disparities among certain populations. Our programs are focused on ensuring representation, creating awareness, and driving a stronger feeling of inclusivity and belonging in the workplace for patients and employees alike.

Sanford Health Bismarck has invested additional resources to support DE&I work and recently selected the members for its 2023 DE&I Council, which includes physicians and nurses. Bismarck employees represented Sanford at various community events including Capital PRIDE, Commemorating Matthew Shepard concert, the ND LGBTQ+ Summit and Diwali. Other highlights include:

  • Over $20,000 total in funds to students through the Equity in Education, Military and Veteran and the Merrill and Elizabeth Koster scholarships.
  • We donate to the community including Abused Adult Resource Center, Sanford Cares, our food pantry and other programs.
  • Additionally, our Internationally Educated Nurse program was recognized in the Chamber Connection and Report on Business.

Military and Veterans Services
Sanford Health is actively recruiting past and current military members to its nursing ranks and other positions. From differential pay to educational scholarships and more, the organization strives to be an employer and provider of choice for veterans. View a full list of benefits and featured career opportunities for veterans and military service members.

Military Times recognized Sanford Health for being one of the best employers across the country for veterans. This is the fourth year in a row Sanford has been honored on this list. The 2022 Best for Vets: Employers List highlights 175 employers, and Sanford Health landed at no. 4, up from no. 36 last year. This year, Sanford Health ranked No. 1 in the nonprofit category of employers and No. 1 in the health care category of employers.

Professional development grants are now available for veteran employees. Grants are up to $3,000 annually, and recipients can receive up to $12,000 in their lifetime. Grant funds may be used for professional development opportunities such as academic classes, certifications, professional courses, or training. To date, 36 veteran nurses have received grants.

The Sanford Health Military and Veteran Scholarship honors those who have furthered their own progress and enriched the lives of others, especially in service, academics and community involvement. The scholarship is administered by the Sanford Health Department of Veterans and Military Services and was created in 2018 as part of the health system’s efforts to serve veterans and military personnel through patient care, employment opportunities and community outreach. Four $5,000 scholarships are awarded annually to veterans, Guard/Reserve members or active-duty military service members who have demonstrated leadership and commitment in their community.

The Veterans page on Sanford Health News features stories of veterans and their experiences as an employee of the system.

AMA Employee Well-being Recognition
The American Medical Association honored Sanford Health as a recipient of the 2021 Joy in Medicine, one of 44 health systems recognized for their commitment to health care team well-being and programs to combat work-related stress and burnout for clinicians.

Becker’s Hospital Review
Becker’s Healthcare recently announced Sanford Health is on its list of 150 top places to work in healthcare in 2023. This list is meant to call attention to hospitals, health systems and healthcare companies that invest in their employees' wellbeing, satisfaction, and fulfillment.

The organizations highlighted on this list provide comprehensive benefits packages, opportunities for professional development, inclusive work environments and the flexibility needed for a true work-life balance. These honorees prove that when employees' needs and desires are met, the entire organization is better for it - they are able to make a greater impact on the lives of patients.

Becker's also factored in community impact, acknowledging organizations that place an emphasis on giving back to their communities and providing volunteer opportunities.

Investing in Patient Care

Sanford Health is dedicated to the work of health and healing, and we continually work to transform the health care experience and provide access to world-class health care close to home.

  • Sanford Bismarck Medical Center is a 248-bed tertiary medical center providing comprehensive, multi-specialty care for patients in central and western North Dakota. Sanford Bismarck employs more than 3,600 people including 260 physicians and advanced practice providers.
  • Sanford Health Bismarck consists of a hospital, a level II adult trauma center, seven primary care clinics, four multi-specialty clinics, three walk-in clinics, three occupational health clinics, a home health agency, three kidney dialysis centers, three long-term care facilities, one independent living center, and a college of nursing.
    It serves as a regional hub for AirMed air ambulance services and supports 12 regional Critical Access Hospitals by providing specialized care including cancer care, heart, women’s and children’s specialties, OccMed services, orthopedics and sports medicine.
  • Key accreditations include The Joint Commission, verification by the American College of Surgeons as a level II adult trauma center, Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) for long-term care, Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education CCNE), Magnet designation for nursing, and Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF).
  • Sanford Health has implemented several programs and services to improve access to affordable care. To address healthcare coverage for uninsured and underinsured, Sanford integrated full-time onsite financial advocates to help patients and their families enroll in health coverage programs. Sanford’s Financial Assistance Program helps thousands of patients each year reduce or eliminate medical bills they can afford to pay. Sanford also assists at risk populations with enrollment in public healthcare coverage programs.
  • To help bridge the gap between health care services provided in our facilities to at-risk patients outside our walls, Sanford created a community health worker (CHW) program. The CHW collaborates with patients in the community to assist with social services, community resources, transportation needs, food stability and other key social determinants of health.
  • To help the community’s most vulnerable patients better manage chronic diseases including diabetes, asthma and depression, Sanford established Better Choices, Better Health, a self-management program designed to help adults better understand their health and better manage their symptoms. Additional free healthcare classes include family parenting and sibling classes, birthing classes, breastfeeding classes, and Caring for Your Newborn class.
  • Subsidized Health Services—clinical programs that are provided despite a financial loss - are provided to meet identified community needs and if it were not offered by Sanford, it would either be unavailable or fall to the responsibility of government or another not-for-profit organization. Examples of subsidized health services include behavioral health services, renal dialysis services, trauma care and women’s and children’s services.
  • Sanford Bismarck Medical Center serves as the region’s safety net hospital, providing free and discounted care to thousands of patients unable to afford healthcare costs. Sanford also collaborates proactively with patients and community members to help individuals apply for healthcare coverage programs including Medicaid, Medicare and private coverage.
  • Sanford Health has many innovative nursing initiatives that are empowering nurses to do their most fulfilling work including using predictive analytics to manage clinical staffing, leveraging technology to support patients at the bedside and automating workflows to build a more resilient workforce and improve patient care.
  • In 2021, Sanford Health announced a landmark Virtual Care Initiative as part of our commitment to transform health care for patients living in rural and underserved areas. Virtual care makes it possible for patients to see a provider or specialist wherever they are. The Virtual Care Initiative is taking access to the next level. Our expertise comes together with the latest technology to deliver more care options when, where and how our patients need them. Learn more about the Virtual Care Initiative.

Quality of Care

Sanford Health Bismarck has received many quality awards and recognition. This recognition demonstrates the medical center’s value to rural communities in the region as well as Sanford Health’s overall commitment to achieving higher quality care and better patient outcomes.

Sanford Health Bismarck Magnet Designation
The Bismarck region of Sanford Health received prestigious Magnet® designation through the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) for the fourth time in 2023. The recognition is the highest honor a health system can receive for professional nursing practice, and, by earning the designation, Sanford Health Bismarck is in the top one percent of health systems in the country and the only Magnet designated facility in North Dakota. The health system first earned designation in 2008, the second in 2013, and the third in 2018.

The Magnet difference:

  • Sanford Bismarck’s ambulatory nurse-sensitive clinical indicator for hypertension control data outperformed the eCQM’s benchmark statistic for the majority of eight quarters on 100% of the units.
  • Sanford Bismarck outperformed the benchmark for all eight quarters with 100 percent of stemi patients making device contact in < 90 minutes.
  • Magnet facilities outperform other hospitals in both recruiting and retaining nursing
  • Nurses employed by Magnet designated facilities report higher job satisfaction and less overall burnout.
  • Shared Governance is at the center, Magnet designated facilities elevate nursing voices ensuring nurses govern nursing practice.

The Magnet Recognition Program designates organizations worldwide where nursing leaders successfully align their nursing strategic goals to improve the organization’s patient outcomes. The Magnet Recognition Program provides a roadmap to nursing excellence, which benefits the whole of an organization. To nurses, Magnet Recognition means education and development through every career stage, which leads to greater autonomy at the bedside. For patients, it means the very best care, delivered by nurses who are supported to be the very best that they can be. Nationally, there are 612 Magnet hospitals, which accounts for only about 10 percent of all hospitals in the country.

Sanford Bismarck named America’s Best-In-State Hospital 2024
Sanford Bismarck Medical Center has been named to Newsweek’s list of America’s Best-In-State Hospitals 2024.

Four data sources were used for the evaluation:

  • Nationwide online survey: Over 10,000 medical professionals (doctors, hospital managers and health care workers) were asked to recommend the best hospitals (in and out of state) based on their expertise.
  • Quality metrics data: Data from Medicare and Medicare services available for mortality, safety, readmission, experience, timely and effective care was considered.
  • Patient experience: Cleanliness of the hospitals and quietness, communication of the nurses/doctors and staff responsiveness, care transition, medicine communication and discharge information.
  • PROMS implementation survey: To account for the increasing importance of Patient Reported Outcome Measures (PROMs).

This prestigious award is presented by Newsweek and Statista Inc., the world-leading statistics portal and industry ranking provider. Hospitals from every state were eligible for the ranking and included in the nationwide survey. The America’s Best-In-State Hospitals 2024 ranking was created to identify the top hospitals at the state level.

Top 10 Business for Young Professionals recognizes Sanford Bismarck
Sanford Bismarck was recently named a 2023 Bismarck-Mandan Top 10 Young Professionals Workplace. The organization was selected by the Young Professionals Network for providing the necessary leadership and resources to their employees that make an impact each day on the lives of patients and patient care. Sanford Bismarck received the same recognition in 2021.

Prairie Business selects Sanford Health as one of top 50 Best Places to Work
Grand Forks Herald’s Prairie Business selected Sanford Health Bismarck as one of top 50 Best Places to Work in 2023. Employees throughout the region nominated their companies, highlighting some of the reasons they believe make their place of business a great place to work. Among the topics were workplace culture, opportunities for employee growth, teamwork and individual responsibility, and employee morale, among others. This year’s 50 Best, listed below, are recognized in this Celebrating 2023's 50 Best Places to Work! article.

Sanford Health Bismarck Accreditations, Certifications, and Memberships

  • College of American Pathologists (CAP) AP, American Association of Blood Banks (AABB), Clinical Laboratory Improvements amendments (CLIA).
  • Joint Commission.
  • Joint Commission disease specific certifications - stroke and joints.
  • American College of Surgeons (ACS) designated Level II Trauma Center.
  • The Commission on Accreditation of Medical Transport Systems (CAMTS) – Bismarck AirMed.
  • American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) – Magnet certification.
  • The National Accreditation Program for Breast Centers (NAPBC) - breast accreditation.
  • Transplant program United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) certified.
  • Bariatric Center of Excellence.
  • Blue Distinction for hip, knee & spine by Blue Cross and Blue Shield.

Investing in our Community

Making our communities stronger and healthier is at the core of everything we do at Sanford Health. As the nation’s premier rural health system, we’re committed to delivering world-class health care no matter where you live. Our care extends beyond our medical centers and clinics. We are active in the communities we serve and invest substantial resources to drive more opportunities and better health for all.

  • For more than 100 years, legacy Medcenter One served central and western North Dakota with great dedication and care. Then in 2012, Medcenter One and Sanford Health saw an opportunity to better serve the region together. They officially merged in July of that year with Sanford Health making a lofty promise: to invest $200 million in the region over the 10 years that followed. In fact, Sanford invested 50% more than initially promised, putting $300 million into the communities served, in part to make care more accessible than ever.
  • Sanford supported McKenzie County Healthcare System’s construction of a new medical center in Watford City, and Sanford also helped fund Bismarck State College’s health science programs.
  • Other partnerships include working with the YMCA on the construction and operation of the Family Wellness Center located in Mandan, providing sports medicine services to 19 area high schools and colleges, and helping to fund sports complexes in Bismarck and Dickinson. The center provides childcare services to assist young families and provides free memberships to individuals and families who cannot afford the cost.
  • Sanford collaborates with community partners to offer Better Choices, Better Health. The evidence-based program is free to patients with chronic disease and caregivers. It is designed to be an intervention that offers support to individuals aged 18 or older and proven to help establish long-term health benefits and health cost savings for patients and their families.
  • To address community hunger, Sanford supports Great Plains Food Bank and screens pregnant and new moms to identify household food shortages and provide needed resources.
  • To address drug and alcohol abuse, Sanford partners with community organizations including Bismarck-Burleigh Public Health, Heartview and Face It Together to support community resources and to connect community members to support services and treatment options.
  • To welcome in the holidays, the Sanford Cares program delivered backpacks to students. Employee volunteers from Sanford Health Bismarck provided backpacks filled with goodies for roughly 700 second-grade students in the Bismarck-Mandan community.
    As the Sanford Cares program has continued to work together with the public-school foundations in both Bismarck and Mandan, participation in the event has grown from approximately 400 students in 2021, to 600 last year, and 700 this holiday season.
  • All told, Sanford’s ongoing community investments in the Bismarck region total $1 million annually.
  • To support and encourage employees to participate in volunteer activities, Sanford provides employees with eight hours per calendar year of paid volunteer time off.
  • As a system, we are committed to extending care beyond our bricks and mortar. It is through this work that we identify unmet health needs in the community, and strategically plan how to best address them. For more information refer to the Sanford Bismarck Medical Center Community Health Needs Assessment.

Myth Busters

Myth: Sanford Health can provide its employees better benefits.
Fact: Sanford Health offers a self-funded health plan (Sanford Group Health) to our eligible employees and their qualifying dependents. Sanford takes great pride in investing in our employees’ well-being through a competitive and comprehensive benefits package tailored to address the diverse needs of our employees and their families. Sanford covers on average, depending on plan and tier elected, approximately 75% of the health insurance premium while also offering a Health Savings Account (HSA) match for those enrolled in the value plan. We are continually exploring options and evaluating our benefits and will continue to bring forward creative ideas for our employee’s benefit programs.

Myth: Sanford Health is not doing enough to retain its current nursing staff.
Fact: We are committed to exploring innovative ways to retain our valued and talented workforce. Over the past year, we launched several initiatives designed to improve retention including: 

  • Flexible scheduling: Sanford Bismarck offers more flexible scheduling options than ever, and we have a variety of shared governance councils in place that are used as an avenue to promote flexible schedules and options for work life balance. Examples include the Night Nursing Council and various unit-based councils.
  • Professional development:
    • Certification course fee support
    • Tuition reimbursement
    • Free continuing education session (Elsevier, Sanford sponsored conferences)
    • Support of research and evidence-based practices (EBP)
    • Annual education. 
  • Competitive pay: Sanford continues to make meaningful investments in base hourly rates and currently offers incentive and extra shift pay rates that ensure pay is comparable, or higher, than a traveler rate of pay.
  • Recognition: Annual Nursing Awards, DAISY Award, HERO awards, years of service award/breakfast, night suppers, picnics, and more.
  • Recruiting: Expanding recruiting partnerships, offering interdisciplinary team recruitment, recruiting internationally educated nurses, and adding travel support when needed.

We continue to gather feedback from our nurses via town halls, rounding, and the employee experience survey to identify ways to further enhance these programs as well as identify new opportunities to retain our talented staff. 

Myth: There is not a nationwide nursing shortage.
Fact: According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Employment Projections 2021-2031, the Registered Nursing (RN) workforce is expected to grow by 6% over the next decade. The RN workforce is expected to grow from 3.1 million in 2021 to 3.3 million in 2031, an increase of 195,400 nurses. The Bureau also projects 203,200 openings for RNs each year through 2031 when nurse retirements and workforce exits are factored into the number of nurses needed in the U.S.

Compounding the problem is the fact that nursing schools across the country are struggling to expand their capacity to meet the rising demand for care. The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) is collaborating with schools, policy makers, nursing organizations, and the media to bring attention to this healthcare concern. The AACN is leveraging its resources to shape legislation, identify strategies, and form collaborations to address the shortage.

Myth: Sanford Bismarck is not hiring additional nurses.
Fact: Sanford Bismarck continues to aggressively recruit and hire nurses to not only fill open positions but also address the growing needs of the Bismarck area and projected health care needs of an aging population. In 2023, Sanford Bismarck has hired 250 external applicants in the registered nurse job family, which is 58% higher than 2022.

During the same period, Sanford Bismarck has had 37 graduates in the Sanford Student Nursing Intern Program (SSNIP), 23 of which have been hired into RN positions (a 62% conversion rate). An additional 49 SSNIPs have accepted offers and will start in May 2024.

16 of the SSNIPs have transitioned into the Extended Sanford Student Nursing Intern Program (ESSNIP).

Myth: Leadership at Sanford Health does not listen to the staffing needs of nurses.
At Sanford, leadership and frontline nurses work side-by-side to develop staffing plans for every single unit, with patient safety and quality always at the forefront. If there is ever a concern about staffing, our nursing leaders respond to understand and address the issue.

Myth: Sanford Health is hiring contract nurses from other countries. 
Staffing shortages in nursing are widespread across our footprint and innovative staffing solutions are needed to address the challenges of hiring enough nurses. Sanford Health is exploring alternative pipelines by recruiting nurses from around the world to meet our staffing needs, now and into the future. However, these internationally trained nurses will be employed with Sanford and are not contract staff. They receive the same pay and benefits as all other Sanford nurses. 105 internationally trained nurses have successfully started in Bismarck since the program’s inception.

Myth: Sanford Health’s spending on charity care is the only community investment the system makes.
Sanford provides charity care, as do many hospital systems, which only represents a portion of our total community investment. Sanford has a strong history of financially contributing to the community and will continue to do so as a mission-based organization. As a system, we are committed to extending care beyond our bricks and mortar. It is through this work that we identify unmet health needs in the community, and strategically plan how to best address those needs. Sanford’s ongoing community investments in the Bismarck region total $1 million annually.