Hospitals differentiate themselves from competitors by paying off student loans

Newburyport, Mass.-based Portsmouth Regional Hospital is among hospitals attempting to battle an employee shortage by offering to pay some of its employees' student loans, according to

In a recent job announcement, Portsmouth Regional said new employees could be eligible for student loan assistance, tuition reimbursement and a possible sign-on bonus. The hospital's parent company, Nashville, Tenn.-based HCA Healthcare, began offering student loan forgiveness in January.

Samantha O'Neill, vice president of human resources at Portsmouth Regional, said the perk is "definitely a differentiator from other hospitals" in the hiring market. She said the majority of positions at the hospital are eligible for student loan assistance.

The trend is growing among hospitals nationwide. In September 2018, Mercy Health, a 23-hospital system based in Cincinnati, launched a student loan repayment program to attract and retain nurses in hard-to-fill roles. States are also using the tactic: California will pay up to $300,000 in student loan debt for each of 247 physicians committed to serving a caseload of at least 30 percent Medicaid patients for five years.

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