Some travel nurses are staying in Vermont permanently, helping to address staffing crisis

Sandra Richardson, who’s been a nurse for more than two decades, is a relatively new member of the greater Burlington community.She said she fell in love with the area for two reasons: “(I fell in love with) the people and the weather, other than the winter. I love the spring, summer and fall,” she said.Nursing brought the South Carolina native to Burlington in December 2020, when she signed on as a travel nurse at UVM Medical Center. “I was prepared to go back to South Carolina,” she said.But she loved working in the neurology clinic at the hospital so much that she decided to stay permanently.”We all work as a team and that has really made an impact on why I chose to stay,” she said.Richardson is one of about 20 traveling nurses who have recently decided to become permanent members of the UVM Medical Center team during a time when recruiting and retaining staff is a challenge for hospitals nationwide.Currently, the hospital said it has 427 travel nurses, which roughly 250 permanent job openings at any given time. The hospital said there is some overlap between those two numbers, since travel nurses are temporarily filling some of the open jobs.”Our traveling nurses are an interesting group of nurses. They’re trained, they’re already here, and they’re getting to know us. They’re working with us and we encourage them to stay,” said Mary Broadworth, with UVM Medical Center.UVM Medical Center is spending tens of millions of dollars on travel nurses who are paid much more than their permanent counterparts, so transitioning traveling nurses who are willing to stay into permanent roles is a win-win for the hospital.UVM Medical Center is also taking other unique steps to convince people to work there, like building 61 apartment units for its workforce, since finding a place to live is often a deal-breaker for potential new hires.”We are in a position where we are paying an awful lot of money for what we think of as temporary workforce and we want to focus on hiring permanent team members and doing business with teammates who are here for the long-haul,” said Al Gobeille, executive vice president of operations at UVM Medical Center.”I see the need for bringing more nurses to the profession,” Richardson said.Although Richardson took a pay cut to stay at the hospital permanently, she thinks it’s worth it for the more stable lifestyle.She’s in the process of finishing her doctorate degree and hopes to teach the next generation of nurses.She’s also using her experience in management to help recruit more workers to the hospital.”I hope I can help make a difference for someone else,” she said.She hopes her story inspires other traveling nurses to stay in Burlington a bit longer, especially since her story has a happy ending. She recently married the love of her life and is excited to write her next chapter in Vermont.”I’ll continue to keep putting the word out there that Vermont is an awesome place to come and live and that UVM Medical Center is the hospital to work for,” she said.

Sandra Richardson, who’s been a nurse for more than two decades, is a relatively new member of the greater Burlington community.

She said she fell in love with the area for two reasons: “(I fell in love with) the people and the weather, other than the winter. I love the spring, summer and fall,” she said.

Nursing brought the South Carolina native to Burlington in December 2020, when she signed on as a travel nurse at UVM Medical Center.

“I was prepared to go back to South Carolina,” she said.

But she loved working in the neurology clinic at the hospital so much that she decided to stay permanently.

“We all work as a team and that has really made an impact on why I chose to stay,” she said.

Richardson is one of about 20 traveling nurses who have recently decided to become permanent members of the UVM Medical Center team during a time when recruiting and retaining staff is a challenge for hospitals nationwide.

Currently, the hospital said it has 427 travel nurses, which roughly 250 permanent job openings at any given time.

The hospital said there is some overlap between those two numbers, since travel nurses are temporarily filling some of the open jobs.

“Our traveling nurses are an interesting group of nurses. They’re trained, they’re already here, and they’re getting to know us. They’re working with us and we encourage them to stay,” said Mary Broadworth, with UVM Medical Center.

UVM Medical Center is spending tens of millions of dollars on travel nurses who are paid much more than their permanent counterparts, so transitioning traveling nurses who are willing to stay into permanent roles is a win-win for the hospital.

UVM Medical Center is also taking other unique steps to convince people to work there, like building 61 apartment units for its workforce, since finding a place to live is often a deal-breaker for potential new hires.

“We are in a position where we are paying an awful lot of money for what we think of as temporary workforce and we want to focus on hiring permanent team members and doing business with teammates who are here for the long-haul,” said Al Gobeille, executive vice president of operations at UVM Medical Center.

“I see the need for bringing more nurses to the profession,” Richardson said.

Although Richardson took a pay cut to stay at the hospital permanently, she thinks it’s worth it for the more stable lifestyle.

She’s in the process of finishing her doctorate degree and hopes to teach the next generation of nurses.

She’s also using her experience in management to help recruit more workers to the hospital.

“I hope I can help make a difference for someone else,” she said.

She hopes her story inspires other traveling nurses to stay in Burlington a bit longer, especially since her story has a happy ending.

She recently married the love of her life and is excited to write her next chapter in Vermont.

“I’ll continue to keep putting the word out there that Vermont is an awesome place to come and live and that UVM Medical Center is the hospital to work for,” she said.

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