Last year, nearly half the people in a Bright Horizons study said they had given up on ambitions of pursuing valuable jobs in specialized fields such as nursing. The reason? Student debt.
It's a subject EdAssist's Georgio Bantos, senior executive director for healthcare, recently wrote about in ASHHRA's quarterly "HR Pulse" magazine.
"We know many hospitals and healthcare organizations are confronting their own share of talent challenges," wrote Georgio, "often more acutely than in other industries."
Healthcare's Top Talent Challenge!
To be sure, debt is a recognized crisis in all industries. But as Georgio detailed, it's particularly acute in hospitals where the one-two punch is fewer people pursuing medicine in the first place, and many of those in medicine too in-debt to continue their education. Nursing is paying exceptionally steeply, he says. More than half of today's working nurses are Boomers nearing retirement; and the Health and Medicine division of the American Academy of Science is recommending that 80% of nurses have baccalaureate degrees by the year 2020.
"Hospitals need to be proactive about identifying qualified employees to fill this staffing gap," wrote Georgio.
Creating a Positive Domino Effect
But more and more organizations, he said, are finding the answer in student loan assistance - programs that help hospitals solve multiple challenges at once. Such programs make payments towards loans as an employee benefit, shortening the length of the loan, improving employees' financial confidence, and increasing cash for things like education. Equally important, with nearly half of people with debt saying they're specifically looking for an employer offering loan assistance, such programs promise to make employers that offer it a hit among valuable recruits.
"Student loans are such an obstacle for many graduates that alleviating some of the burden can create a positive domino effect," wrote Georgio. "By appealing to Millennials, they also pave the way for well-defined career tracks for young nurses and transfer of knowledge within the organization."
Read Georgio's entire article, here. You can also download the study, Generating Interest, College Debt's Toll on American Workers.