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State of Colorado paying $14k hiring bonuses for nurses

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Tom Gantert

(The Center Square) - The Colorado Department of Human Services is recruiting nurses and offering $14,000 sign-on bonuses for nurses to work in the state's two psychiatric hospitals in Denver and Pueblo.

The state cited a 2021 labor study done by Mercer that projected 900,000 nurses would leave the profession and employers would need to hire 1.1 million nurses by 2026. If the 2021 demand for nurses was maintained, states would have a shortage of 100,000 nurses by 2026, the study stated.

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The salary ranges posted for the Colorado Department of Human Services nursing jobs range from $94,380 to $152,976 for a director of nursing to $38.93 an hour ($80,974 a year) for a registered nurse, not including the $14,000 hiring bonus, according to the county's website.

“Many people hear ‘human services’ and think of programs like child welfare and food assistance,” said Colorado DHS Executive Director Michelle Barnes in a media release. “While we do provide those services, we are also a healthcare organization. We serve Coloradans every day at our mental health hospitals, nursing homes, care facilities and youth centers.”

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Compensation for a nurses can vary greatly due to their high demand and the amount of overtime they can earn. For the city of Denver, for example, registered nurses had an average gross pay of $73,252 in 2022, according to city records. An advanced registered nurse in Denver made $161,838 in 2022.

In other states, the demand for nurses can lead to much higher salaries. A city of San Francisco nurse compiled 2,110 over time hours in 2022. That nurse had a base salary of $184,507 but ended up having a gross pay of $513,294 in part due to $315,889 in overtime.