New Jersey healthcare company introduces upfront tuition coverage for employees

Saint Peter’s Healthcare System has launched New Jersey’s first tuition-free education benefit program for healthcare employees, according to a March 19 announcement.

Called the Learning, Education and Advancement Program (LEAP), the initiative provides upfront coverage for both full-time and part-time employees, with the aim of advancing healthcare careers.

“As a mission-based healthcare system, this program underscores Saint Peter’s commitment to transforming careers and our community,” Laura Atkinson, vice president and chief human resource officer at Saint Peter’s Healthcare System, said in the announcement. “It is an investment in education, our employees, and the strength and unity of our community, ensuring our caregivers reflect the rich diversity of those we proudly serve with compassionate care.”

The LEAP initiative complements the healthcare system’s current tuition reimbursement policy by improving access and lowering financial barriers associated with upfront tuition costs, according to the announcement. Employees can access more than 1,000 online learning options, including skill courses, English-language learning programs and bachelor’s degrees, from academic institutions such as Arizona State University, City University of New York and University of Colorado.

The program is available through InStride. As part of Saint Peter’s Healthcare System’s talent acquisition and retention efforts, employees are eligible to participate in the program after 90 days.

Healthcare organizations are offering new learning and development opportunities to attract and retain workers after post-pandemic turnover rates rocked the industry. To keep up, healthcare companies hired more workers who were unemployed or hadn’t previously worked in healthcare, according to a JAMA Health Forum study. Now employees need upskilling.

Effective learning programs center workers’ needs, according to a report by UpSkill America and i4cp, a human capital research organization. Most employers still need to improve these aspects of their upskilling programs, the report found.

For even better performance, employers can offer the same learning and development opportunities for all employees, including “executive-style” training that C-suite executives receive, according to a survey by Cypher Learning. Nearly all workers surveyed said training is important for their role, and more than three-quarters said they’re more likely to stay with an employer that prioritizes training, especially programs that help them improve skills and job performance.