The tuition reimbursement occurs when the employer pays for employee education expenses after he/she passes the classes. This practice used to be beneficial both for medical institutions and individuals as it increases the overall level of society’s healthcare, hospital performance, and reputation. In their turn, medical professionals use this employment-based benefit as a chance to improve their knowledge, skills, and activity. According to Eslamian et al. (2015), medical staff should regularly update their knowledge via continuing education (CE) programs that are primary components of professionalism and competency. Advanced education helps the latter build their experiences without incurring additional costs or dedicating their whole time to education. The nursing salary research report revealed that most CE healthcare professionals plan to attend classes to increase their salaries (Jakucs, 2018). Instead, 50% of nurse respondents point at receiving certificates and education as their primary goal. Moreover, the majority of nurses highly value employers who offer CE programs that encourage the former to become long-term employees. This paper will further focus on tuition reimbursement’s importance and justification in the healthcare industry.
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The Cost of Reimbursement Programs versus Return on Hospital Investment
The majority of hospitals offer reimbursement programs despite their relatively high costs. Reimbursement, in contrast to scholarships and grants, does not cover tuition costs upfront. It is often accompanied by a signed commitment of the employee to continue working at the same workplace for a couple of years if he/she plans to secure the reimbursement. Moreover, healthcare institutions incorporate other restrictions to their programs, including the maximum amount of tuition reimbursed according to educational outcomes (grades received). For instance, 100% cost recovery will be granted to those who received A, while those who got B will receive 75%. Approximately $2,600 were granted on average to 40% of nurses for educational purposes in 2018 (Jakucs, 2018). The benefits for nurses are quite clear, including improving skills, knowledge, salary, and career prospects.
Hospitals also enjoy a set of crucial advantages stemming from CE reimbursement. Return on investment (ROI) compares the initiative’s costs to its outcomes (cost reduction or profit). Reimbursement is considered as a hospital’s investment, and it proved to be financially beneficial if appropriately designed. Many different studies found that it increases job satisfaction, competence, and confidence (Opperman, 2016). It usually leads to decreased turnover and significantly raised retention due to special contracts, employee satisfaction, and higher loyalty. The ROI indicators proved that tuition refund practice is an excellent investment, as cost savings are often higher than initially incurred money (Opperman, 2016). Further study also highlighted that additional education is financially beneficial in decreasing length of stay, surgical site infections, preventing pressure injuries, and improving staff confidence (Opperman, 2018). In other words, tuition reimbursement may positively affect a hospital’s promotion, retention, recruitment, productivity, and performance.
The Return on Investment for a Nurse Going to School
The programs offered by hospitals encourage staff to pursue additional education that improves their ultimate performance. Busy nurses have a chance to attend special courses and advance their academic achievements. Finances and time are two main obstacles working health professionals face in CE (Taylor, 2015). It offers greater professional opportunities for them, including home-based, outpatient, and acute care. The bachelor and higher programs are usually focused on policy, finance, leadership, teamwork, communication skills, and other subjects related to their obligations. Thus, CE contributes to better-implementing healthcare reforms and retaining more professional staff in the long-term. Moreover, such programs help enhance financial support, healthcare culture and align individual goals with institutions’ ones.
It is not enough to conduct employee satisfaction research to assess the outcomes of continuing education financed by the hospital. It may require the application of cost analysis, ROI, benefit-cost ratio, and cost-effectiveness analysis approaches (Opperman, 2018). The manager’s performance following the passed courses should be tracked and compared to previous results before his/her enrollment. The difference in performance and other stuff opinions may give an essential insight into the program’s effectiveness and improvement of hospital management.
The Argument and Position Concerning Cost of Education and Benefit to the Hospital
To my mind, tuition reimbursement is a practical investment that yields positive outcomes for hospitals, their employees, and the community. Although medical institutions often cut spending on CE in times of financial hardship, I believe that this practice should be further maintained at least partially. Otherwise, the hospital will put retention, job satisfaction, and quality of service in danger. The returns on well-designed hospital investment are capable of compensating for expenditure on education.
Nevertheless, during a recession, it is important to limit education investment instead of its total elimination. The hospital management should rather focus on short-term cost reduction methods regarding medical expenses and find ways to increase revenue. The amount of tuition that can be reimbursed should be moderately cut. According to Taylor (2016), every dollar spent on education may generate at least 1.3 dollars of cost savings by talent management and retention. The tuition reimbursement (close to the national average) will help retain most healthcare professionals. Moreover, it is expected to bring long-run benefits regarding performance and cost savings.
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To conclude this part, investment in CE is beneficial both for institutions and nurses. The latter are encouraged to enhance their skills and knowledge positively contribute to the organization’s performance. The higher quality of management and provided services enhance the hospital’s reputation in the eyes of patients. What is more, this approach improves communication, teamwork, offers learning access, and financially supports talented people who have not enough money for further education.
Recommendation to the CFO in Fiscal Terms
I am convinced that the hospital will lose a range of benefits by stopping the tuition reimbursement program. Hence, I recommend limiting the expenditures on CE to the regional level. Moreover, management should pay attention to spend less on short-term workers and identify those who have a higher potential to benefit the organization (assessment of past performance). To do that, the former should establish requirements such as special contracts (setting legal obligations between parties), type of degrees, and grade attained. It will help to use wisely organization’s resources both for the benefit of employees and the hospital. I recommend the CFO regularly assess the information collected regarding CE’s results and apply advanced technologies to monitor educational progress. Such monitoring will help to identify the best candidates to be the organization’s leaders. This method will foster the hospital’s top management decision-making process (if they should or should not invest).
To conclude, nursing tuition reimbursement is essential for every medical setting that strives to improve its service quality. In order to maximize benefits in the long-run, this approach should be integrated by the hospital. The CFO will benefit more from cutting some medical expenditures instead of eliminating CE costs. Although nursing tuition reimbursement should be limited and monitored, I recommend preserving this approach even during the recession.
Eslamian, J., Moeini, M., & Soleimani, M. (2015). Challenges in nursing continuing education: A qualitative study. Iranian journal of nursing and midwifery research, 20(3), 378.
Jakucs, C. (2018). Tuition reimbursement could be key to attract and retain fresh RN talent. Nurse.com.
Opperman, C., Liebig, D., Bowling, J., & Johnson, C. S. (2018). Measuring return on investment for professional development activities: 2018 updates. Journal for Nurses in Professional Development, 34(6), 303-312.
Opperman, C., Liebig, D., Bowling, J., Johnson, C. S., & Harper, M. (2016). Measuring return on investment for professional development activities: Implications for practice. Journal for nurses in professional development, 32(4), 176-184.
Taylor, B. (2015). Flexible programs, tuition breaks help nurses pursue bachelor’s degrees.