A NURSING CAREER WITH LESS STUDENT DEBT
Nurses are critical to University Health System’s mission of providing high-quality, patient-centered care. To attract, retain and support those nurses, a number of innovative programs have been introduced here in recent years.
Finding nurses isn’t easy — and it isn’t going to get easier. With an aging U.S. population, experts warn that the nation is going to need a lot more nurses than it currently has. Unfortunately, the cost of a nursing degree can be an impediment, with new nurses often entering the labor force saddled with thousands of dollars in student debt.
The Registered Nurse Student Loan Repayment Program at University Health System is unique among San Antonio-area health systems, and rare throughout the country. Only 4 percent of employers in the United States offer student loan repayment programs,
according to the Society of Human Resources.
The program, supported in part through the University Health System Foundation, offers student debt repayment to those with existing debt from earning a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree. Both new hires and current employees are eligible.
“We think that by helping to reduce the burden of student loans, we can also help nurses secure their financial future,” said Andrea Casas, executive director of human resources at University Health System, who added that the program will address one of the biggest financial concerns of millennials.
University Health System, which employs more than 1,500 staff nurses, also offers nursing scholarships and a generous tuition reimbursement program for employees who continue their education on the job. To better prepare new nurses for the real-world challenges they face, it also has a yearlong Nurse Residency Program that attracts applicants from across the country.
University Health System was the first health system in South Texas to earn Magnet designation by the American Nurses Credentialing Center — the gold standard of nursing excellence.