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 USD Medical Center are supported by people who value professional growth and development.
Professional development opportunities include:
- Certification course fee support.
- Tuition reimbursement.
- Free continuing education session (Elsevier, Sanford sponsored conferences).
- Shared governance, Nursing Senate, Unit Based Councils (UBCs), Work Life Balance, and Night Nursing Council.
- Schwartz Rounds, Nursing Ethics.
- Support of research and evidence-based practice (EBP).
- Improvement Symposium.
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.
We offer a variety of in-person and virtual continuing education credits and educational offerings that cover many specialties. Many of these offerings are free of charge or at reduced costs for employees.
CNA, LPN and RN sponsorships, annual scholarships and an employee assistance program are available to assist current and future nursing staff with furthering their education. Learn more about scholarships.
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:
- Certification through ANCC
- Certifications/board specialty
- List of nursing certifications
- Certification recognized by Magnet
Sanford USD Medical Center (SMC) 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 SMC 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. 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. Membership in local councils gives our nurses an opportunity to work with a variety of staff from different disciplines in the region, all of whom share a passion for improving care.
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.
- The standard schedule for a full-time nurse at Sanford USD Medical Center (SMC) is 36 hours per week.
- There are a variety of shared governance councils in place at SMC that are used as an avenue to promote flexible schedules and options for work life balance. Examples of these committees are the Night Nursing Council, Work Life Balance Council, and various unit-based councils.
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 Sioux Falls Medical Center is comparable to 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.
- SMC 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. Over the past several years, the average base hourly rate for nurses has increased steadily and remains above the median (50% percentile) across the region. These investments have also allowed us to provide equity adjustments within the salary ranges for our most tenured nurses, improving overall wage compression.
- Sanford military employees may be eligible for compensation during participation in 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 Sioux Falls Medical Center (SMC) nurses are eligible for 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.
- SMC nurses are eligible for health, dental and vision insurance, as well as long-term disability and many other optional benefits.
- Review the summary of 2023 Sioux Falls Health and Welfare Benefits offerings.
Sanford Health embraces innovative solutions to address workforce challenges and alleviate administrative burdens so our nurses can focus on what you are passionate about — caring for our patients and residents.
- Sioux Falls is a growing community and expected to be among the fastest growing cities in the United States over the next 40 years. Currently, annual growth is trending higher than projected and coupled with an increase in patients’ length of stay, Sanford USD Medical Center (SMC) hospital census has risen resulting in 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 Sioux Falls area and projected health care needs of an aging population.
- As part of our “Culture of Caring” work, SMC continues a multi-faceted approach to improve the talent pipeline. This includes partnerships with higher education organizations such as the University of South Dakota, South Dakota State University, Augustana University, and the University of Sioux Falls for internships, scholarships, and residencies. SMC, in partnership with local technical schools, has also created LPN sponsorships to support the ambulatory care model.
- Aspire by Sanford reaches approximately 15,000 students annually in the Sioux Falls region through their K-12 career exploration programs and camps. One of the programs offered is high school internships. From the fall of 2019 to the fall of 2022, SMC/SC hosted 46 total interns. 24 interns continued employment in some capacity.
High school clinical-certified interns come to Sanford as certified nursing assistants. All our interns are high school seniors wanting to pursue a career in health care and are looking for experiences. The interns apply, interview, onboard, and complete orientation for this position. They are placed in nursing assistant positions based on the department/clinic need, personal interest, and their stated availability.
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 partnered with local organizations to implement a Classroom to Careers (C2C) program for Sioux Falls high school students. Our goal is to make post-secondary education a reality for underserved, low income, and/or ethnically diverse students. Students earn dual credit, paid for by Sanford. Courses are taught by Southeast Technical College (STC) instructors, and funding includes a coordinator to work with students on post-secondary career plans.
- Augustana University has partnered with Sanford to create the Sanford Health Nursing Scholarship Program — an effort to provide even more Augustana nursing students with a pathway into the nursing profession within the Sanford Health System. As the only university in South Dakota to earn a Holistic Nursing Program endorsement, the Augustana nursing program has been a regional leader in preparing nurses for more than 80 years.
- Sanford is exploring alternative pipelines by recruiting nurses from around the world to meet our staffing needs, now and into the future. 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. SMC’s goal going forward is to secure 15 internationally trained RNs per quarter.
- 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.
During the same period, SMC has had 47 graduates from the Sanford Student Nursing Intern Program (SSNIP) and Extended Sanford Student Nursing Intern Program (ESSNIP) accept RN positions. An additional 47 SSNIP/ESSNIPs have already accepted RN positions for the coming year - 23 are December 2022 graduates and 24 are May 2023 graduates that will start this summer.
- When necessary to support patient volumes, SMC 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.
- Nurse assignments at SMC are determined using several factors including:
- Patient acuity.
- Volumes, resources across interdisciplinary care team and capacity.
- Type of department (ICU, Med/Surg, Peds, etc.).
Sanford USD Medical Center 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 Engagement Survey
Nothing matters more to building a great culture than listening to our people and responding to their feedback. Employees participate in an annual employee experience survey. Recently, 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 inclusiveness, scoring far above health care industry benchmarks.
Your well-being matters. That’s why Sanford Health offers our 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, social) allows you and your family 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 support services available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Nurses and family members can access these services at your 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.
Workplace Violence Prevention
Sanford Health believes our hospitals and clinics should be places of safety and healing for caregivers, patients, and visitors. Sanford USD 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.
Resources to Support Safe, Quality and Highly Reliable Patient Care
In response to our nurse’s feedback, Sanford USD Medical Center has implemented several changes and resources to support safe patient care including:
- MEWS scores and process of rescue nurse monitoring and assessment.
- Rescue RN overnight coverage.
- Patient placement 24/7 and patient transfers after placement.
- Security officers overnight in the ER.
- Easy Lobby expansion to encompass all inpatients.
- Patient Transport Team.
- Artisight pilot – a technology system that uses computer-vision and artificial intelligence (AI) to improve the lives of patients and front-line staff.
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.
Sanford Health has been recognized by Military Times 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.
The Veterans page on Sanford Health News features stories of veterans and their experiences as an employee of the system.
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.
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.
“Though our footprint is large, we still have a constant community feel. Everyone knows everyone. We are taking care of our family, friends, and community members every day. We have an incredible culture of nursing. It’s about innovation. It’s about discovery. It’s about allowing that voice of nursing to be at the forefront. Our shared governance structure stretches across our entire Sanford nursing community, including the Good Samaritan Society as well as in our ambulatory and acute care settings where our front-line teams’ brilliance can be shared to help us solve the challenges we are navigating.” – Erica DeBoer, chief nursing officer, Sanford Health
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 USD Medical Center (SMC) is a 545-bed tertiary medical center in Sioux Falls, SD, providing comprehensive, innovative multispecialty care for patients from across the Midwest. It is the largest hospital in South Dakota and serviced by Sanford AirMed air ambulance, which covers a vast geographic region and offers four specialized transport teams, including adult, pediatric, neonatal, and obstetric.
- SMC is a verified Level II Adult and Level II Pediatric Trauma Center by the American College of Surgeons. It is the only verified Pediatric Trauma Center in South Dakota. When every second counts, we’re here to provide the highest level of care to our patients.
- SMC is accredited by The Joint Commission and has been a designated as a Magnet hospital five times by the American Nurses’ Credentialing Center.
- As a provider of highly specialized services, SMC offers Centers of Excellence in heart and vascular, children’s services, cancer, neuroscience, orthopedics and sports medicine, and women’s health. It also serves as the primary teaching hospital for the Sanford USD School of Medicine, located at the University of South Dakota in Vermillion.
- Through our mission, dedicated to sharing God's love through the work of health, healing and comfort, and our vision of improving the human condition at every stage of life through exceptional care, spiritual enrichment, innovation and discovery, Sanford is making medical care accessible to the entire region.
- Sanford Children’s Castle of Care serves pediatric patients in a five-state area and through Sanford World Clinics, which comprise 133 health facilities in ten countries. State-of-the-art neonatal intensive care and pediatric intensive care units offer 24/7 care by local specialists.
- Sanford Heart Hospital is a state-of-the-art hospital offering highly advanced, integrated, and personalized heart care from more than 750 experienced heart specialists and staff. All services for heart patients — emergency care, outpatient testing, surgery, rehab, catheterization, and consultation with specialists — are consolidated into one building attached to the medical center, allowing for easy access.
- Sanford Orthopedic and Sports Medicine has a depth of services and specialties to treat sprains, strains, tears, breaks, joint pain, and concussions. We offer more than 45 expert providers with extensive experience in diagnosis, surgery, and nonsurgical treatments. Sanford is a regional leader in sports medicine and works with over 125 club, high school, collegiate, and semiprofessional teams.
- Sanford’s Cancer Center and Edith Sanford Breast Center combine to form a unique beacon of expert cancer and breast care throughout the region. It features a space that supports advanced cancer care and breast care delivery models of the future, encompassing the whole person built on a foundation of distinguished research and supporting team-based care.
- Sanford Women’s offers state-of-the-art obstetric and gynecological care for women of all ages in several locations throughout a four-state area. Care is provided by specialists in OB/GYN, maternal-fetal medicine, urogynecology, fertility and reproductive medicine, low intervention birth, and more. Sanford Women’s Plaza is a unique destination that provides women with a variety of health options, in one location.
- Sanford Health is embedding the latest in genomic medicine into primary care through Imagenetics. This program provides physicians with unprecedented patient-specific information to better identify effective medications and risk for inherited disease to design a care plan for the future. Through a national partnership with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Sanford Health is bringing free pharmacogenetic testing to 250,000 veterans across the country.
- The behavioral and mental health provider team at SMC continues to grow. The Psychiatry and Psychology Clinic currently has 25 total providers, including five physicians (two adult psychiatrists and three child and adolescent psychiatrists); six APPs; six psychologists and eight behavioral health therapists. The region has 24 Integrated Health Therapists (IHT) within primary locations including seven IHTs in Sioux Falls primary care clinics; two IHTs covering specialty clinics; one IHT covering oncology; eleven network IHTs and three behavioral health therapists (BHTs) embedded in primary care locations in Sioux Falls.
- Sanford Health has several 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 USD Medical Center 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 USD Medical Center and Clinics Achieve 5th Magnet Designation
Sanford USD Medical Center and clinics in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, attained Magnet recognition for the fifth straight time. Sanford is one of less than 40 hospitals to be honored for the fifth straight time - a testament to its continued dedication to high-quality nursing practice. The American Nurses Credentialing Center’s Magnet Recognition Program distinguishes health care organizations that meet rigorous standards for nursing excellence. This credential is the highest national honor for professional nursing practice.
US News Ranks Sanford USD Best Hospital in South Dakota
U.S. News & World Report’s Best Hospitals for 2022-2023 ranked Sanford USD Medical Center the No. 1 hospital in South Dakota. The annual U.S. News & World Report rankings are published to help patients decide where to receive care. U.S. News evaluates data on nearly 5,000 hospitals in sixteen adult specialties, nine adult procedures and conditions and ten pediatric specialties.
Sanford USD Medical Center received high-performing rankings in three adult specialty areas, including gastroenterology and gastroenterology surgery, orthopedics, and pulmonology & lung surgery. In gastroenterology and gastroenterology surgery, Sanford USD Medical Center ranks as one of the top in the nation when comparing those specialty services with health care systems across the country.
Sanford USD Medical Center Recognized with 5-star CMS Rating
Sanford USD Medical Center in Sioux Falls received a 5-star rating by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). This national distinction recognizes Sanford Health’s quality measures and its continued effort in providing safe, quality health care to its patients.
The overall star rating is based on how well a hospital performs across different areas of quality, such as treating heart attacks and pneumonia, readmission rates, and safety of care. CMS has reported that only 9.6% of the 5,491 evaluated hospitals received a 5 star rating.
Sanford USD Medical Center Recognized by Vizient
Sanford USD Medical Center has been recognized as a top performer in the 2022 Bernard A. Birnbaum, MD, Quality Leadership Ranking by Vizient, Inc. Sanford USD Medical Center is one of about 10% of participating Vizient members in the large, specialized complex care medical center cohort for demonstrating excellence in delivering high-quality care on the Vizient Quality and Accountability Study, which has been conducted annually since 2005.
Program performance is based on six domains: safety, mortality, effectiveness, efficiency, patient centeredness, and equity of care. Vizient top performers are recognized for key attributes including shared sense of purpose, focused and results driven leadership, and a culture of collaboration and continuous improvement.
Sanford USD Medical Center Receives ‘A’ Safety Grade
Sanford USD Medical Center in Sioux Falls received an “A” Leapfrog Hospital Safety Grade for Spring and Fall 2022. This national distinction recognizes Sanford Health’s achievements in protecting patients from preventable harm and error while in the hospital.
Leapfrog uses 27 national performance measures used to produce a composite safety grade for hospitals utilizing data on safety and quality. The safety grade is assigned to nearly 3,000 general acute-care hospitals across the nation and is released twice annually in the Spring and Fall.
Sanford USD Medical Center is a top 100 hospital for GI care
The Sanford USD Medical Center has been named one of top 100 hospitals for gastrointestinal (GI) care by Healthgrades, a leading health care comparison website.
Sanford Health is the only hospital in South Dakota to receive the award and joins the ranks of other hospitals honored including the Mayo Clinic, Kaiser Permanente, the University of Chicago, Barnes Jewish and more.
Each of the top 100 hospitals was evaluated based on clinical quality outcomes and relevant data. The award recognizes facilities with superior patient outcomes in colorectal surgeries, gallbladder removal, upper gastrointestinal surgery, treating bowel obstruction, gastrointestinal bleeds, and pancreatitis.
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.
- Sanford employs more than 12,000 people in the Sioux Falls area, including nearly 2,400 nurses, 526 board-certified physicians, and 552 advanced practice providers in more than 80 medical specialties.
- With a focus on educational institutions ranging from kindergarten to college, health care access, quality initiatives, and social and community well-being programs, Sanford USD Medical Center (SMC) made significant contributions to local entities including the YMCA, Junior Achievement, the Sioux Empire United Way, and countless local non-profit and community-based organizations.
- SMC continues to invest in workforce development efforts with local organizations including the Healthcare Occupational Students of America (HOSA), Junior Achievement and multiple university and K-12 partners including Brandon, Harrisburg, Sioux Falls Christian, and many others across the state.
- SMC has a strategic alliance with many local colleges and universities including:
- University of South Dakota
- South Dakota State University
- Northern State University
- Southeast Technical College
- Lake Area Technical College
- The University of Sioux Falls
- Sanford Health recently collaborated with the City of Sioux Falls, Minnehaha County, and Avera Health to establish The Link. As a community triage center, The Link is a safe place for people experiencing a non-violent behavioral health crisis or needing care for substance abuse disorders to access immediate treatment and referral to support services.
- SMC provides Child’s Voice services to children in eastern South Dakota. Our providers also see children referred from southwestern Minnesota and northwestern Iowa. We evaluate all children who are admitted to Sanford Children’s Hospital for maltreatment concerns. Child's Voice is one of three nationally accredited Children’s Advocacy Centers in South Dakota.
- 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 Community Health Needs Assessment Report.
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 Sioux Falls is not hiring additional nurses.
Fact: In the past 12 months, SMC has hired 1,451 employees, including RNs, LPNs, case managers, and patient support services staff including certified medical assistants, nursing assistants and patient care technicians. Of the total number hired, 192 have been registered nurses.
Myth: Leadership at Sanford Health does not listen to the staffing needs of nurses.
Fact: 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.
Fact: 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. SMC’s goal going forward is to secure fifteen internationally trained RNs per quarter.
Myth: Sanford Health’s spending on charity care is the only community investment the system makes.
Fact: 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.
How can we better care for new admissions with limited staff?
We have a responsibility to provide health care to our communities, and therefore we strive to balance high patient volumes/impacts, regulatory requirements (EMTALA), and staff capacity. We recently implemented a new inpatient census management tool (red/yellow/green status report). This tool integrates the One Call process with clinical decision making to determine what is best for each patient. During “yellow” status, telemed, stroke, trauma, and STEMI patients have normal transfer acceptance. All other critical care transfer requests received through One Call, within our normal transfer footprint, will be moved to the accepting provider for review. In the event there is a prolonged yellow status or extreme barriers exist to provide timely critical care, concerns are designed as “red status” and are elevated to discuss ongoing plans for care and communication to the appropriate units.
What is the definition of SAFE from Sanford’s perspective?
Sanford Accountability for Excellence, or SAFE, is our commitment to safety on our journey to become a highly reliable organization (HRO). Being an HRO means having systems in place that create barriers to preventable harm, reducing or even eliminating serious safety events in our facilities. As caregivers, we commit to the safety of those we serve – and to each other – with a goal to have ZERO preventable harm every day. This commitment to safety goes beyond physical safety and encompasses psychological (mental and emotional) safety for our patients and each other as well. Since beginning our SAFE journey, we have reduced our Serious Safety Event Rate (SSER) by greater than 45%. The average days between Serious Safety Events has increased from 2.8 in 2020, to 3.8 in 2021 and to 4.7 in 2022.
Will Sanford consider opening a 24/7 daycare for employees?
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. In various markets, we have hosted grant writing workshops for childcare facilities and in-home centers to help providers understand how to access federal and state funding to build capacity in our footprint, 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. 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 Sioux Falls.
To access Bambino services, visit the Bambino website to download the app and get started. 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.
How different does the budget look from pre-COVID to now?
Sanford Health, like many health care systems across the country, has not been immune to the significant financial challenges accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic. An increase in patient census, increased expenses, and ongoing staffing issues has put unprecedented pressure on our budgets. Over the last two years, we have worked to bring renewed focus to our central purpose of delivering exceptional health care. This includes making new investments to advance the care we provide, closing out programs outside our core mission (Profile) and reducing administrative expenses. While we navigate the current economic challenges, we have prioritized maintaining our ability to invest in our people through an annual merit increase.
What is being done to decrease the overall turnover rate for inpatient bedside nursing?
We have several initiatives in place to reduce inpatient nurse turnover that include improved flexible work schedules, prioritizing onboarding, and training, promoting meaningful recognition, and offering professional growth and education opportunities. Additionally, Sanford continues to make meaningful investments in base hourly rates and currently offer incentive and extra shift pay rates that ensure pay is comparable or higher than a traveler rate of pay. 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 recruit and retain our talented staff. Turnover has stabilized and is now decreasing from our high.
Do you think turnover has increased due to burnout due to covid and decreased job satisfaction and how does travel nursing affect this?
As a result of staffing shortages during the COVID-19 pandemic, nurses experienced great strain in their personal and professional lives, which is one of the contributing factors to higher turnover rates. An emphasis on staffing, competitive pay and benefits, and flexible scheduling has made inroads on reducing burnout and turnover.
To better support our team’s well-being, Sanford offers employees and their family’s access to a variety of resources for extra support whenever it is needed. In partnership with VITAL WorkLife, Sanford's Employee Assistance Program (EAP) provides access to free counseling, coaching and unlimited, 24/7 in-the-moment support services.
What are we doing to retain our current nurses?
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 work schedules, investments in professional growth and development, offering competitive pay, promoting meaningful recognition, and doubling down on recruiting and staffing opportunities. A few of the retention efforts in place today include:
- Flexible scheduling: SMC offers more flexible scheduling options than ever, and we have a variety of shared governance councils in place at SMC that are used as an avenue to promote flexible schedules and options for work life balance. Examples of these committees are the Night Nursing Council, Work Life Balance Council, and various unit-based councils.
- Professional development:
- Certification course fee support
- Tuition reimbursement
- Free continuing education session (Elsevier, Sanford sponsored conferences)
- Shared governance, Nursing Senate, UBC’s, Work Life Balance, Night Nursing Council
- Schwartz Rounds, Nursing Ethics
- Support of research and evidence-based practices (EBP)
- Improvement Symposium
- 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: Nursing recognition event (over 600 were nominations received this year!), DAISY Award, HERO awards, years of service award/breakfast, night suppers, picnics, and more.
- Recruiting: Expanding recruiting partnerships, offering interdisciplinary team recruitment, recruiting internationally trained 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 recruit and retain our talented staff.
Are we hiring more constant observers?
Our plan is to get additional support in areas with the biggest need which includes increasing the number of PRN positions for our students and others interested in a career in health care.
How can nurses get more diet choices for patients at night?
The food and nutrition services team at SMC continues to work hard to enhance food options and services for our employees, patients, and guests. We recently added “heat and eat” food options that are available 24/7 and increased access to food service areas to improve convenience. The food and nutrition services team will continue to monitor the response to the new offerings for enhancements going forward.
What does cross-training for adult to peds look like?
We welcome any of our employees who are interested in cross-training to work with their leader to put together a plan for cross-training to other units of interest/need. Nursing leadership and Learning and Development (LEAD) teams are here to support nurses in their professional development and career path within Sanford.
What is the latest update on the Sanford/Fairview merger?
In the interest of ongoing cooperation with the Minnesota Attorney General’s office, Sanford and Fairview decided to extend the target closing date for our merger until after May 31st and have agreed to the Attorney General’s request for 90 days’ notice prior to closing at a future date. In the meantime, we will continue to work toward finalizing our Fairview and Sanford combination. More details will be shared on an ongoing basis as the Attorney General’s office advances its review of our combination.