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Nurses train to avoid back injury while moving patients

Tom Czapla, a MRI technologist, serves as a patient as he joins registered nurse Emily Pack (left) and radiology tech Lindsey Calloway learning how to use the latest in lift technology at Barnes Jewish St. Peters on Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2015. Photo by Robert Cohen, rcohen@post-dispatch.com

Missouri hospitals are bedeviled by a record turnover in nurses, according to a new report by the Missouri Hospital Association.

The report found that 17.9 percent of nurses left their hospital jobs over the past year. That's up from 15.7 percent the previous year and the highest in the 12-year history of the survey. Only 2006 came close when turnover hit 17.8 percent.

The report found that 8.3 percent of hospital nursing jobs are going unfilled.

“Vacancy and turnover rates for staff nurses are indicative of the problem in the current workforce,” the report said.

The typical cost to a hospital for replacing a nurse runs between $36,900 and $57,300, according to studies quoted by the association.

The highest turnover is among mental health nurses at 29 percent, with 10.5 percent of jobs going unfilled.

“Missouri is facing a mental health workforce shortage made worse by maldistribution and the aging of behavioral health providers,” the report said.

The report includes data from 148 hospitals.