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The looming nursing shortage (projected at 1 million and growing) is creating a seller’s market. If you have nursing skills, you can command premium compensation packages. With learning institutions struggling to graduate enough new nurses to meet the growing demand, hospitals are increasing the perks offered in an attempt to retain their existing nursing staff. Here are just a few of the perks available.
While discounts on tuition for continuing education have been a staple at some hospitals for decades, including family members in on the discounts is a new option. Some hospitals offer free college to a nurse and any of that nurse’s children as part of the employment package. You might even get 100 percent reimbursement if you attend the right university.
Sign on with the right hospital, and you could take home a five-figure signing bonus, and even get covered relocation costs. That makes your first year very lucrative, and you’ll have a chance to renegotiate as soon as your contract expires.
No, most hospitals are not offering completely free housing options for local nurses, but many have started commuter programs. If you live more than 60 miles from the hospital, you may be offered a free place to stay during your work week. That can help you save big on gas and wear and tear on your vehicle while you pull down a bigger salary.
With the growing demand for skilled nurses and all of the perks on offer, you might want to consider a career change. Nursing programs are available as both an associate’s degree and bachelor’s degree. You can finish up an associate program in just over 2 years, pass your NCLEX exam and register to practice. An associate’s degree in nursing includes both academic classes and clinical practice under a teaching nurse. Once you have your RN, you can continue your education with a BSN program that works around your work schedule. You won’t need additional clinicals, so it is often easier to schedule.
With continuing education, you can earn a master’s or doctoral degree and increase your level of qualifications up to a nurse practitioner. Essentially, a nurse practitioner is much the same as a primary care physician, although you’ll get there through an alternative educational path. Don’t forget to keep your 401(k) contributions in line as you advance your career.