In this article, I’m going to talk about bonuses nurses get. 

From sign-on bonuses to shift bonuses and others, I’m going to talk about them and answer some of the questions you might have. 

*Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links. If you click and make a purchase, I may receive a commission. For more info, please see my disclaimer.

What’s a Nurse Bonus?

A nurse bonus is the amount of money given to a nurse on top of their base pay as a reward or for any other incentive purposes.

The Different Types of Pay Bonuses for Nurses

1. Nurse Sign-on Bonus

What is a Nurse Sign-on Bonus? 

A nurse sign-on bonus (or simply a signing bonus) is the compensation a company pays to a new nurse hire as an incentive to get them to join the organization. 

This doesn’t necessarily have to be a new grad nurse or an experienced nurse.

I’m just referring to a nurse that’s a new hire.

What is the average Nurse Sign-on Bonus?

A typical nurse sign-on bonus may range between $1,000 to $10,000. I have heard of some sign-on bonuses that have well exceeded that.

Should You Accept a Nurse Sign-on Bonus? 

Whether or not you should accept a sign-on bonus depends on a lot of things.

But in general, unless it’s a really good sign-on bonus and I’m near 100% confident I’m going to stay at that job for a good while (at least until the obligatory work period ends), I would not accept employment with a sign-on bonus.

I know of many nurses that would say I’m wrong.

That not accepting a sign-on bonus is you leaving free money on the table.

I would argue it’s not really free money because that bonus comes with strings attached.

For many, if you don’t stay as long as you’re supposed to, then you have to pay back that money.

Personally, what I don’t want to run into is a situation where I can’t leave a bad work situation because I don’t want/can’t payback the sign-on bonus.

Pro Tip:
It’s important to note that each situation is different and there are plenty of nurses who have taken sign-on bonuses and have worked at the same place for years.

At the end of the day, you just have to way the pros and cons and not necessarily look at the sign-on bonus as “free money.”

How Does a Sign-on Bonus Normally Work?

Typically speaking you get the sign-on bonus after agreeing to work for the employer for a set number of years.

Do You Have to Pay Back the Sign-on Bonus if You Leave Early? 

Yes, you usually have to pay back the sign-on bonus if you received the money in a lump sum. 

If you were getting the money incrementally than many times you don’t have to pay back the amount you already got, you just don’t get the remaining amount.

2. Nurse Referral or Recruitment Bonus

A referral or recruitment bonus is a bonus given to employees for referring or recruiting new nurses.

Employees use it as an incentive to try to deal with their nursing staff shortage.

What’s the Average Nurse Referral or Recruitment Bonus?

Many employers will offer a $1000 referral bonus for recruiting new nurses.

You may see some facilities offer a little bit more or a little bit less than that just depending on bad their need is.

Should I Refer a Nurse Just to Get that Referral Bonus?

Yes, there’s nothing wrong with referring new nurses just to get that bonus, but with a caveat.

You should only refer good quality nurses who are hard workers.

There are several reasons for this:

  1. Referring a bad employee makes it harder for yourself and your other nurse coworkers.
  2. Referring a bad employee takes away a spot that could have gone to a better employee.
  3. If you refer a bad employee and it doesn’t work out, it makes you look bad. (I’ve had this happen to me before and it’s not a good feeling when the person you refer flakes out.)

Pro Tip:
This might be hard to believe, and I’m sure some nurses will disagree with this but there are times I would much rather work short than work with a “bad” nurse.

3. Nurse Completion Bonus

This is generally for travel nurses. 

A completion bonus is a sum of money given to a travel nurse by a facility for accepting and completing the necessary requirements in a travel assignment.

You can kinda look at it as a sign-on bonus but for travel nurses. 

The amount of a nurse completion bonus could be $1,000 to several thousand dollars depending on how desperate the facility is for nursing staff.

4. Annual Bonuses

Some employers will offer annual bonuses to some or all their nursing staff.

Typically, an annual bonus is a sum of money given to nurses who get satisfactory or above satisfactory in their work.

5. Shift Bonuses

Shift bonuses or shift differentials is a sum of money a facility will pay nursing staff for working certain shifts. 

Shift differentials are very common for night shifts and weekend shifts. 

I went into great detail and even gave examples in the nursing shift differential article

If you’re interested check, out that article to learn more about the shift differentials nurses get.

Final Thoughts

Understanding your bonuses as a nurse is very important to get an accurate overall picture of your nurse compensation. 

Hopefully, this article has helped clear up some of the questions you may have about nurse bonuses.

Related Article to Bonuses for Nurses

Frequently Asked Questions

Yes, nurses do get bonuses. It will vary from facility to facility, so make sure you check before accepting a job position.

Yes, nurses do get sign-on bonuses. The offer may vary from $1,000 to $10,000, depending on the facility. Make sure you fully understand the contract terms before agreeing to anything.

A nursing sign-on bonus is paid out in either one lump sum or spread out over a period of time.

Yes, hospital pay bonuses. Depending on the hospital, they may pay sign-on bonuses and other incentive-related bonuses.

Staff nurses will typically not receive a Christmas bonus. Few places may give a couple of hundred dollars, while others give either nothing or just a frozen turkey.

One Comment

  1. Never take the “first offer. ” The first offer is just the starting point in your negotiation. Cross out the section in the contract where you have to pay back the bonus if you leave within the first year. Don’t agree to it. You might not like the job. It might not be what they told you. You took a chance on them, they need to take a chance on you. Always ask for a higher hourly wage. “Salary” for an RN means you work more hours for less money than hourly nurses. Don’t do it. Walk away. You will have a job offer from every place you apply by the end of the day. RNs are in HUGE demand! Know your worth!

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