Mercy Health is offering a new student loan repayment program to attract and retain nurses in hard-to-fill roles. Mercy Health will make monthly contributions toward any current outstanding student loan debt for nurses who qualify for the program.
The program, which Mercy Health launched in August, contributes up to $20,000 toward the college debt of eligible nurses working full time in hard-to-fill direct patient care roles.
The program makes monthly contributions with the amounts increasing every year through the fifth year. The payments continue until the limit is reached. BenefitEd provides the administration with technology and benefits servicing.
"Talented nurses are vital to ensuring the health and well-being of our patients. Our new student loan repayment program is a win-win for us and our nurses. It helps us attract and retain nurses in hard-to-fill, direct patient care roles while helping them pay down their college debt," said Allan Calonge, Mercy Health Human Resources System vice president.
Bureau of Labor Statistics' most recent projections predict that the health care industry will grow 18 percent from 2016 to 2026, resulting in 2.4 million new jobs. That's far more than any other occupational group and it's already presenting challenges to providers as the costs to attract and train qualified care professionals continues to increase. At the same time, new graduates carry an increasing load of debt with student loans, causing some to forgo major life decisions. Graduates have an average monthly student loan payment of $351 over 10+ years and 11 percent of students are in default.
Programs that ease the burden of student loan debt have shown real improvements in filling open positions, retaining high-performing employees and stimulating employee productivity.
"With more than 4,500 current employees as well as new RNs in hard-to-fill direct patient care roles eligible for this program across Mercy Health's footprint, Mercy Health is making a substantial commitment to its workforce with this program," said Mike Riordan, director of sales at BenefitEd. "Mercy Health already innovates in the care it provides patients. This new program shows the same innovation when it comes to making a meaningful difference in the lives of employees."
In addition to the Student Loan Repayment program, Mercy Health employees may be eligible to participate in the federal Public Services Student Loan Forgiveness program. BenefitEd will help employees determine if their loan qualifies for this government program and provide guidance on the application process. The federal program forgives qualifying loans for employees of not-for profit organizations after 120 payments are made.