In an article released on Nurse.com in August 2017, executive dean and professor Marie Nolan at John Hopkins University discusses both the granted, and not so common, benefits nurses should consider when seeking a potential employer. She urges readers and students to look beyond their offered salary in order to see what other perks there may be in working with that certain hospital, or another healthcare facility, while also thinking how this job opportunity would also line up with their other future goals.
Some employee benefits are expected across the professional field, and these are usually included in full time work. Some examples of these are all types of insurance, retirement benefits, and time off. However, many nurses aren't aware of these benefits until after they take the job. It's vital to know about every detail before accepting an offer, and avoid any sort of surprises on the first day of work.
Where should nurses ask all of these questions? Well, usually when the HR representative gives the go-ahead to ask anything that you need, or want, to know about the particular job. And, this goes beyond salary and the amount of hours. Sometimes, HR personnel do not disclose any information about potential benefits until you accept the offer. On the rare occasion, they will, but the more questions that you ask, the better you look. Other benefits that hospitals may offer to employees are not included in every field of work, and certainly not every institution. In this article, we have gathered just a few of these benefits:
- Tuition aid or remission: In contrast to retro-active forms of financial aid, tuition remission pays for the semester before it begins, and can radically reduce the amount of student debt that one accumulates. Nolan says some hospitals differ on the sum of money, and they may offer an employee to go to school, which should also constitute critical examination on the nurse’s part. She states, “If they would have selected their employment based on tuition remission, they could end up being $30,000 or $60,000 ahead” (Jimenez). In addition, nurses who have worked for at least two years in the same healthcare facility may also qualify for assistance in their dependent children’s college education, but not all hospitals offer this benefit. However, even so, this benefit is definitely worth learning more about before taking the job.
- Free or discounted gym memberships: Staying healthy is part of the job, and some employers offer gym memberships for their nurses. If not, some gyms will at least offer a discount for nurses. Learning more about this can help a number of nurses who are looking to gain a bigger boost of energy through being active.
- Free lunch and/or snacks: While some hospitals offer free lunch for their medical staff, this benefit may also be reserved for doctors only. However, recently a bigger problem has emerged: the frenzy of their work makes nurses unable to take their meal breaks, and sometimes are not even paid for this time. This has ultimately led to several cases in the past year where nurses have sued the hospitals over their lack of lunch breaks.
- Retirement fund matching. Nolan notes that some employers will not match as much retirement savings as others, and this can make a huge difference years down the road. This may ultimately be a deal breaker for several nurses.
- Time Off: Taking sick days, vacations, and holidays. Typically, the average amount of vacation days for a full-time nurse is two weeks, which doesn’t differ substantially from jobs in other fields. Unfortunately, nurses do not get all their traditional holidays off, and may have to work through one to three of the six major holidays of the year in the United States, like Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s, Memorial Day, 4th of July, and Labor Day. Overtime pay may also be applied during required working holidays, but it is not required, so hospitals may not even offer it. Nurses also get an average of 40 hours of paid sick time per year.
Do not forget the power in negotiation
Nolan urges her students to consider their goals for their life and career, and then negotiate with their perspective employers. She cites one of her first experiences in the field in 1980 as an example of the art, and importance, of persuasion. When she was told that she must work night shifts, she fired back, “ ‘I couldn’t possibly work night shifts because I want to learn all I can as fast as I can. You really don’t learn as much working at night because patients are sleeping and you don’t want to wake them up’ “ (Jimenez). In Nolan’s case, her manager acquiesced to her request. When in the interview, many are afraid to actually bring up what they want and their needs while on the job, but it's important for your voice to be heard, more so than giving just the typical answers for the interviewer. There must be a level of respect that is established before your work in that particular hospital takes place.
Barbra Drenski, another medical professional in education cited in the article, encourages perspective employees to inquire about benefits during the interview, saying there’s no wrong time to ask, and these are extremely important in deciding where to work.
Brown, Lorie A. “No Free Lunch for Nurses.” Empowered Nurses Organization, 2 June 2017, www.empowerednurses.org/no-free-lunch-for-nurse/.
Jimenez, Sallie, and Tom Clegg. “Nurse Salary Is Only Part of the Pie.” Nursing News, Stories & Articles, 7 Aug. 2017, www.nurse.com/blog/2017/08/07/nurse-salary-is-only-part-of-the-pie/.
Nursing Salaries, Benefits and Flexible Schedules.” Lehigh Valley Health Network, www.lvhn.org/careers/working_in_the_lehigh_valley/departments/nursing_careers/nursing_salaries_benefits_and_flexible_schedules.
Stevens, Janine. “What Benefits Do Registered Nurses Receive?” Career Trend, 5 July 2017, www.careertrend.com/list-6736333-benefits-do-registered-nurses-receive-.html.