Fostering Ongoing Professional Development and Advancement
Tuition reimbursement program advances nurses’ careers
The tuition reimbursement program at the University of Chicago Medicine has empowered Nurse Practitioner Evan Skinner, MSN, RN, AGACNP-BC, CEN, CCRN, to achieve his aspirations of becoming his patients’ primary provider.
Skinner, an APN in the ICU, recently completed his master’s degree through the UChicago Medicine’s tuition reimbursement program, saving him tens of thousands of dollars, he said, and enabling him to focus on his patients and not worry about debt.
To become an APN –a nurse must have a master’s degree, a career move Skinner wanted to make. “As an APN, you are more involved in the medical decision-making – and that’s outstanding for the nursing profession as it advances,” he said.
Receiving the degree, “allowed me to move into a new category within the profession of nursing that allows me to see, treat, admit and discharge patients. I can order tests and other diagnostics. I can evaluate individuals and make a diagnosis.”
Skinner said, as the number of patients grows in the U.S., more APNs will be needed to address health care issues. “We’re increasing the pool of providers able to see patients – and there’s a growing influx of patients who need our care.”
Skinner may consider getting a doctoral degree, he said, because the hospital offers 75% reimbursement toward that.
In fiscal year 2016, 499 nurses used the tuition reimbursement benefit and were reimbursed nearly $3.5 million, according to Chinita Washington, the hospital’s senior benefits analyst.
Research shows the more knowledge nurses gain, the better the outcome for the patient, said Katherine Pakieser-Reed, PhD, RN, Executive Director Center for Nursing Professional Practice and Research.
That’s why the hospital’s tuition reimbursement program – which pays 100 percent for nurses who obtain a bachelor’s or master’s degree – is so important, she said.
“It helps nurses gain access to knowledge to go on for additional degrees, and it reduces a financial barrier, all the while guaranteeing even better care for our patients,” she said.