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Bozeman Health Supports Increased Nurse Compensation, Resiliency, Retention, and Recruitment

Corporate news | Thursday, August 12, 2021

Contact: Lauren Brendel, M.S.

Bozeman, MT [August 12, 2021] — Bozeman Health loves our nurses. We feel incredibly grateful for the more than 900 nurses that are part of the Bozeman Health family, and the dedicated care they provide to our patients and the communities we serve. Annually, Bozeman Health invests more than $40 million in total compensation (salaries and benefits) for our more than 900 strong nursing staff and more than $190 million in total compensation for all employees.

There are currently 426 Bozeman Health nurses who are part of the Montana Nurses Association (MNA). We have the pleasure of working with MNA and thoughtfully and purposefully listening to their comments, questions, concerns, and needs. Throughout negotiations, Bozeman Health and Montana Nurses Association were equally committed to elevating the recruitment and retention of high performing nurses in an effort to meet our mission of improving community health and quality of life, while driving towards performance excellence and improvement.

On August 4, 2021, after months of productive conversation, Bozeman Health presented a last best and final offer to Montana Nurses Association and the collective bargaining team. Bozeman Health wholeheartedly trusts that our offer meets, if not exceeds, all the needs and requests outlined by MNA, and that it recognizes the tremendous efforts of our nurses, especially throughout the past 18 months and continuing as we respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.

We believe our final offer of a 10% increase for all our MNA nurses (see below for specifics) addresses concerns of financial strain due the current cost of living in the greater Gallatin valley while recognizing that all nurses are contributing to an increase in quality, safety, and patient experience. This increase would take effect two pay periods after ratification of the Agreement, should it pass.

Our commitment is to fair compensation and benefits for ALL Bozeman Health team members. Healthcare is provided by a team and our commitment to wage increases must be consistent with what is financially sustainable for our health system. Additionally, Bozeman Health offers highly competitive benefits, including (but not limited to) paid earned time off, and two health plans, one of which does not require employee contribution of any premium deduction, and the other that pays 85% of the premium.

Pay for performance excellence is based on achieving key metrics in patient quality and safety, access, affordability, and experience. We know that our nurses want to and do deliver safe patient care. These patient-centered goals are measured systemwide and are goals that every employee works towards achieving and exceeding. While performance pay based on meeting these patient-centered goals has been and is in effect for all our employees, we recognize it is new for our nurses covered under the collective bargaining agreement. We look forward to developing this process with our nurses and leaders as proposed in our Agreement.

Having an experienced nursing staff is beneficial to their peers, our community, our patients, and to our new grad nurses as they start their careers, which is why compensation in our offer has been structured to include longevity. Additionally, we’ve allocated additional resources to aid in increasing and elevating nurse recruitment, including outreach to communities across the country with health systems who have had to lay off or furlough nurses.

Maintaining resiliency is extremely important for our nurses and all our employees. Starting in 2018, Bozeman Health has provided resiliency training to more than 800 nurses and employees. When the pandemic initially reached the greater Gallatin valley, Bozeman Health quickly stood up an employee resiliency taskforce that has now been embedded in our regular operations. This taskforce helps support the physiological and physical health of Bozeman Health employees and to work diligently to recognize, inspire, nurture, and uplift our employees through directed initiatives and everyday acts of kindness.

Additionally, this past spring, a Bozeman Health registered nurse in our Family Birth Center, proposed an idea to our senior leadership team that was implemented to help our employees reinvigorate and take care of themselves after a very challenging 18 months. As of June 18, 2021, all eligible employees were gifted up to 80 hours of paid Extended Medical Bank Hours (based on their FTE status) to be used over the next two years to rest, recharge, and reconnect with family and friends. This time can be used in addition to regular paid earned time off hours (used for vacation, holidays, leaves of absences, short-term illness, and personal days).

Below are more specifics on our Agreement offer for your reference.

2021: Effective two pay periods immediately following ratification:

  • 10% increase for all nurses (8% scale increase and 2% experience increase)
  • Differential increases
    • Night shift from $4/hour to $4.50/hour
    • Weekend pay from $1.25/hour to $2.50/hour
    • Regular call pay from $3.50/hour to $5.00/hour
    • Certification pay for all hours paid from $1.75/hour to $2.50/hour
    • *NEW differential for master’s degree in nursing paid at $4.00/hour
    • Team leader pay from $2.00/hour to $3.50/hour

2022: *NEW Performance Excellence differential implemented in April 2022 with $1.00/hour on all hours paid for an aggregate nurse performance evaluation score of greater than 3.0 (all or nothing).

  • Note: This based on meeting and/or exceeding patient-centered key metrics in patient quality and safety, access, affordability, and experience—all things our nurses do every day.
  • The aggregate performance evaluation score for nurses in 2020 was 3.57.

2023: 5% overall guaranteed increase (3% scale increase, 2% experience) and the potential of an additional 2% to the base wage for meeting patient-centered performance excellence goals.

2024: 3% overall guaranteed increase (1% scale increase, 2% experience) and the potential of an additional 2% to the base wage for meeting patient-centered performance excellence goals.

Additional changes we believe help meet our collective goals:

  • Preceptor pay for hours spent precepting senior nursing students
  • Expanded longevity pay and remove the salary cap at 15 years for new hires
  • Increased the longevity wage for total years at Bozeman Health and added years 25 and 30
  • Double time for staying past shift to provide patient care
  • Improvements to ensure appropriate rest periods between shifts
  • Bozeman Health paying in advance for costs of two nursing certification tests
  • Improved the job share section to make it more appealing for nurses to use this benefit
  • Updated and improved language in every article to make the Agreement more user friendly

If we find our wages are not keeping up with competition or market, we have the ability to increase wages and benefits within the current proposed Agreement. While a three-year agreement is important for long-range strategic planning and budgeting to help ensure financial viability of the health system—it does not mean we would wait until the next collective bargaining agreement negotiations to pay our nurses more. As an example, if our pay practice market analysis showed that we needed to increase wages for our nurses in 2023, we would do so, as this is standard process for Bozeman Health.

Bozeman Health is grateful to every single one of our nurses and employees for their compassionate and dedicated care to our patients and our community. We believe our offer achieves the desired outcome—that our nurses feel well-compensated, supported, and cared for, as they care for others.

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