$10,000 penalty if you leave the ICU - page 2

I am looking at joining a hospitals ICU unit and was floored with their expecations. To join this unit you have to sign a two year contract. If you leave before the end of your two years of work... Read More

  1. by   Ophelia78
    I did a critical care internship to the ICU as a new grad. If we did the inernship and left before 18 months, we had to pay back $2000, which they said was the cost of our education. $10000 seems a bit excessive. If it was a sign-on bonus it moght be more reasonable- I know of some places that make you pay a pro-rated amount of a sign-on bonus back if you leave before a contract ends.

    I would never sign a 2-year contract that required a ten grand payback when you've received nothing in return!
  2. by   Dakkon76
    What a joke! If you REALLY want to work for them... I'd ask them for numbers to justify the huge penalty. If they really have such a high attrition rate that they've got to do this to recoup costs... you've also got to wonder about why all of those people are leaving to begin with... and why they chose punishment over rewards as a means of retaining people. I say run!!!
  3. by   Sheri257
    Quote from DrugReptoNurse
    There is no sign on bonus to join this unit. It is a fairly new policy they have put into place.

    I thought it was a red flag issue and am glad those who have responded feel the same way.
    In California, at least, I'm pretty sure this practice would be illegal. As far as I know, the only way they can force a financial penalty is if they give that nurse a bonus, loan or other special financial consideration up front, and they don't fulfill the terms of the contract.

    But if they don't pay you anything extra up front above and beyond the actual salary itself then, you're free to leave anytime without penalty. Same if the bonus payments are staggered over time like: 25 percent after you work there three months, 50 percent after six months, etc. You can still leave as long as the payment isn't up front.

    A similar issue came up when we worked as student externs during nursing school. Since the hospitals were training us as externs, some of them wanted us to sign contracts obligating us to work there.

    However, the school pointed out that this was illegal so the hospitals dropped it. Only the students who actually received sign-on bonuses, loans etc. from the hospitals up front were obligated to sign these contracts.

    While this is the case in California, it could be different in other states.

    :typing
    Last edit by Sheri257 on Mar 29, '07
  4. by   Pompom
    I have never heard of such a thing but it doesn't suprise me. I certainly would NOT sign that contract, we RN's have too many options in our favor to self-imprison ourselves is just crazy.
  5. by   UM Review RN
    If you sign a contract like that, you give up the only power that nurses really have -- the power to walk out the door if the conditions become intolerable. Things can change hugely in two years. Even if it started out as a stellar unit, if a key person left or if management messed with some vital part of the package, that stellar unit could become toxic.

    Not only that, but other things can happen in two years.

    I really think any hospital that thinks it can draw staff by offering this sort of deal has cut its nose off to spite its face.
  6. by   Halinja
    I just interviewed and heard the same stipulation with my jaw hanging open. It was 4,000 not 10,000, but still!!!! Excuse me, but NO! Like another poster...I have to wonder why their attrition rate is so high that they feel that they have to do that. Makes me very suspicious of the unit.
    Last edit by Halinja on Apr 8, '07 : Reason: take out something unnecessary
  7. by   Mommy TeleRN
    Well I am now running into this issue. I have been an intern on a floor for the past year as a student. I was offered a position on the floor. I thought the "internship" was standard training..it lasts about 6 months. Well now I'm finding out that if I want to go through the extensive training I must sign a 2 yr contract. I do not know yet what the penalties are for not staying. If I do not want to sign the contract I can do a standard 90 day orientation.

    I am pretty torn. I mean the penalty may not be all that high, and I understand it cost them a lot. And I have heard many places will buy out your contract if you choose to change facilities. But I do not like the idea of being obligated if something changes. I feel that it takes away your power. This is why I never got tuition assistance for school from area hospitals..I didn't want to get locked into anything.

    Should I just take the standard 90 days orientation? The preceptor is excellent and I already know all the nurses. I just am NOT crazy about signing a contract..I like keeping my bargaining power in the future.
  8. by   inspir8tion
    I am in an OR program in CA where they have us sign an agreement to give them one year or $10,000. I signed it knowing that the agreement is unenforceable, that it is just a scare tactic. I wonder, however, if I do leave when the program finishes and do not pay (or give my one year) would I be burning a bridge? Would it be worth it?

    Quote from Sheri257
    In California, at least, I'm pretty sure this practice would be illegal. As far as I know, the only way they can force a financial penalty is if they give that nurse a bonus, loan or other special financial consideration up front, and they don't fulfill the terms of the contract.

    But if they don't pay you anything extra up front above and beyond the actual salary itself then, you're free to leave anytime without penalty. Same if the bonus payments are staggered over time like: 25 percent after you work there three months, 50 percent after six months, etc. You can still leave as long as the payment isn't up front.

    A similar issue came up when we worked as student externs during nursing school. Since the hospitals were training us as externs, some of them wanted us to sign contracts obligating us to work there.

    However, the school pointed out that this was illegal so the hospitals dropped it. Only the students who actually received sign-on bonuses, loans etc. from the hospitals up front were obligated to sign these contracts.

    While this is the case in California, it could be different in other states.

    :typing
  9. by   RN34TX
    Quote from llg
    Many, many nurses take jobs in hospitals with good orientation programs with no intention of staying for more than a few months. They intend to simply get the training and then become a travel nurse ... or go to graduate school ... or move out of town ... etc. They take advantage of the $50,000 it costs the hospital to hire and orient them without any intention of helping the hospital recoup its significant investment in their education. Hospitals are getting tired of having nurses take advantage of them in this way and are beginning to look for ways to discourage that sort of thing.
    The nurses are taking advantage of the hospital? Interesting twist.
    There is a name for this sort of practice and it's called extortion.
    You named many of the reasons why new nurses leave their positions that you say are taking advantage of the hospital but what about people who simply find out that ICU nursing simply is not for them and/or that the working conditions are unbearable?

    How many new grads do you know really understand what they are getting into when they first start out? And I'm not talking about LPN's becoming RN's, I'm talking about brand new nurses with no prior experience outside of clinicals caring for one patient under the supervision of an instructor.

    Under the advice of my nurse friends who insisted that ICU experience was essential and the only way to go, I've been doing ICU since getting my RN but I have no intention of doing it forever. I am literally doing it for the experience with the intent to move on eventually.

    Yes it's tolerable, hence the fact that I'm still here after 3+ years in ICU, but some cannot tolerate it and/or are just not cut out for it. It takes a lot to work in an ICU where a visitor gets upset that their loved one has a pink stain of liquid Tylenol on their sheets and demands that I change it immediately all while I'm trying to set up a Swan. It's hard to have two 350 pound pateints receiving continuous tube feedings and you are changing their soiled beds on the hour knowing that they will continue to soil sheets all shift long meanwhile managing their titrated drips, CVVHD, vents going off, etc.

    Had I signed a contract, should I be asked to pay them $10,000+ because I decide to leave because they continued to give me 2 or even 3 patient ICU assignments that should have been 1:1 in the first place? Or allow visitors to trample in and out at all hours abusing me at their every whim?

    There may be nurses who start in ICU knowing that they will not stay, but I'm quite sure that the majority leave due to poor working conditions or other ligitimate reasons. Perhaps hospitals should start exploring WHY their nurses leave instead of sitting around at meetings cooking up coercion tactics to basically imprison them into positions of forced indentured servitude.


    Such a contract could actually protect a nurse and work to her benefit -- force the hospital to provide an outstanding educational program that might be worth the committment/money.
    That type of contract would do no such thing. They could give you a crappy orientation and then tell you that you are charging on a floor of new grads the following week when you barely have much ICU experience yourself. That type of contract most likely makes no promises or guarantees to the nurse, but only serves in the interest of the hospital.

    Maybe when hospitals get tired enough of paying to orient new grads to replace the ones they previously used and abused, they may actually start to explore working conditions and how it affects their turnover.
  10. by   babynurselsa
    While I also understand that it is expensive to train qualified nurses, there is NO WAY IN HADES I would sign a contract with a 10 dollar much less 10,000 penalty for leaving.
    Wow, I guess I never knew what a priveldge I have been allotted in being allowed to recieve the appropriate training from my original ER job to function well......
  11. by   berry
    TO the original poster did you interview and take the job. I worked in both the ER and SICU and had a good experience with the hospital, good working conditions, and steady raises. I took many classes on the clock ACLS, PALS, IABP. We had liberal protocols in both the ER and SI allowing a great deal of autonomy. I say this as a current SRNA with the opportunity to compare it with other classmate’s experiences from several different areas of the county.

    I would also not like to sign a contract that says I am penalized for leaving (Air Force sticking me in North Dakota for 3 years soured me on contracts). I think the rational is to try to keep staff in place. My unit (SI) had seven people accepted into CRNA School in 06 and 1 left for PA school and one that finished NP degree and left for a new job. MICU had two leave for school, CCU had 1-2, and NICU had at least one. This staff turnover is beyond their control and unrelated to working conditions. Just my $ .02
  12. by   land64shark
    Quote from berry
    My unit (SI) had seven people accepted into CRNA School in 06 and 1 left for PA school and one that finished NP degree and left for a new job. MICU had two leave for school, CCU had 1-2, and NICU had at least one. This staff turnover is beyond their control and unrelated to working conditions. Just my $ .02
    Just a thought, but it almost sounds like it could be more beneficial for the units to hire ADN's instead of BSN nurses because the ADN's won't be running off for advanced degrees as quickly. I'm not saying they should, but.....
  13. by   justme1972
    Quote from DrugReptoNurse
    I am looking at joining a hospitals ICU unit and was floored with their expecations. To join this unit you have to sign a two year contract. If you leave before the end of your two years of work for any reason you have to pay them $10,000.

    The hospital has a 20 week training program for ICU nurses and I can understand they may want to recoup some of their costs for early exiters.....but $10000??

    Is this common in any other cities? Needless to say I will be interviewing elsewhere.
    Yup, they can do that. Any place of employment can legally charge a fee for training that it renders that can generalize to a competitor.

    I know you work at a hospital, but let's say you worked for Jenny Craig...and then you went to work for Weight Watchers...it's not the same thing...it's not the same program, etc...so they can't charge you for training if you leave.

    However, with your ICU situation...it sounds like they are going to charge you for the perceptorship if you leave before two years, and that is a recoverable cost, because if you leave, that training will directly benefit you at another hospital.

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