Across the country, workers are saddled with student loan debt. And, staff in the healthcare industry is no exception. Recognizing the vital need to meet the mental and financial wellness of our colleagues, HCA Healthcare rolled out $300 million in workforce development initiatives. Those programs include student loan assistance and tuition reimbursement for most full-and part-time colleagues. Learn more below about how these efforts continue to unlock possibilities within our organization…

In 2019, student loan debt in the United States is at an all-time high. Collectively 45 million borrowers owe $1.5 trillion in outstanding debt. Student loans are the second-largest category of consumer debt, following home loans. In today’s labor environment, new graduates and candidates aren’t merely looking for jobs with a paycheck—they’re seeking ways to eliminate debt they’ve accrued, or may eventually accrue, in pursuit of their career.

With an eye toward the wellbeing and professional development of its colleagues, HCA Healthcare sought to effectively target key stress points in their lives, such as student loan debt. The organization joined just 8% of other U.S. employers in proactively investing in employee education.

Since its launch in 2019, this effort has proven valuable for many across HCA Healthcare’s 184 hospitals and more than 2,000 sites of care.

Student Loan Assistance Program:

  • The program provides a monthly benefit of $150 for eligible full-time colleagues and $75 for part-time colleagues.
  • Eligible U.S.-based education loans may include federal Perkins loans, private student loans, grad PLUS loans, subsidized and unsubsidized Stafford loans, health professionals’ loans, student refinance loans and consolidated student loans.
  • Financial wellness coaching is also available through the HCA Healthcare Student Loan Assistance Program. Colleagues are able to receive free and unlimited one-on-one sessions with a financial wellness coach to develop action plans relating to student loan debt, evaluate repayment and refinancing options, avoid or rehabilitate a default and make the most of the HCA Healthcare benefits.
  • This past year, HCA Healthcare approved more than 22,000 applicants for approximately $16 million in student loan assistance.*

Tuition Reimbursement:

  • Colleagues can receive up to $5,250 in tax-free reimbursement each year for eligible higher education expenses (tuition, books and course-related fees), plus, education discounts from over 220 accredited schools.
  • 12,000 applicants utilized tuition reimbursement benefits this year, approximating $33 million in reimbursements ($21 million to nursing programs alone!)*

*stats reflect totals from January 2019 – December 2019 

Meet a few colleagues who are improving more lives in more ways as a result of these benefits below.

Caregivers use workplace perk to pay down student debt and advance careers 

Sandro Vagnini (left) and Sara Coon (right) work at affiliate The Medical Center of Aurora’s Behavioral Health & Wellness Center

Sandro Vagnini, currently the director of nursing for affiliate The Medical Center of Aurora’s Behavioral Health & Wellness Center, joined HCA Healthcare in August 2017 as a clinical nurse coordinator.

“It means a great deal to me to work for HCA Healthcare because they are constantly investing in their employees, and loan repayment assistance is a perfect example of that, “says Sandro.

Sara Coon joined HCA Healthcare shortly after Sandro as a clinical nurse coordinator, too. She knew she was in good hands to advance her career with HCA Healthcare’s tuition reimbursement benefits. Sara is now a women’s behavioral health nurse manager for affiliate HealthONE in Aurora, Colorado.

Sara takes advantage of this benefit “to make advancements and continued improvements within the behavioral health campus, while allowing myself to take on more responsibility within a leadership role.”

Advice to colleagues: “I encourage others to utilize this resource to strive towards their own higher education goals to grow both personally and professionally,” says Sara.

Furthering education helps lab colleague obtain leadership role

Chrishell Hubbart holds a laboratory director position over two affiliate hospitals in Utah.

For Chrishell Hubbart, who has been with HCA Healthcare for 10 years, going back to school checked a life goal off her list. With the support of HCA Healthcare’s tuition reimbursement benefits, Chrishell earned a Masters in Health Administration. She advanced her career to a laboratory director position over two affiliate hospitals in Utah: Brigham City Community Hospital and Cache Valley Hospital.

Chrishell recalls, “Shortly after graduating I was asked to be the director over facilities laboratories. I know that had I not had the additional education I would not have been prepared to say yes to the offer.”

Advice to colleagues: “Participating in the tuition reimbursement program is not hard and if money is the only reason you are holding back than you should reconsider,” encourages Chrishell.

Student loan assistance benefits inspire intern to pursue nursing role

In 2017, Danielle Gustafson began her career with HCA Healthcare at MountainView Hospital in Las Vegas, Nevada as an intern. Following internships in accounting/finance, Danielle was hired to work for the hospital’s supply chain and now is proving to be a successful asset for the facility’s new provider based emergency room as a community outreach coordinator.

Colleague Danielle Gustafson is going to school to become a nurse.

HCA Healthcare is now helping Danielle to fulfill her dream of becoming a nurse.

Danielle was accepted into nursing school in her first application, and begins her studies January 2020, planning to use HCA Healthcare’s tuition reimbursement benefits.

“There are several medical professionals in the family who have been a great deal of inspiration to me,” says Danielle. “I always told my mom I wanted to help people when I grew up. Being a nurse allows me to do just that.”

Advice to colleagues: “I am grateful for the opportunity to work in an organization that invests in its employees,” Danielle said. “I appreciate having the option of tuition reimbursement; it helps you hit educational goals you might not be able to achieve otherwise.”


Did you know that HCA Healthcare offers dependent scholarships?  The HCA Healthcare Scholars Program, established and funded by our philanthropic arm, The HCA Foundation, awards scholarships of up to $5,000 for higher education expenses to dependent children of eligible HCA Healthcare colleagues. Awards are merit-based, with the amount of the award determined by financial need. Learn more about our dependent scholarship program here!

Note: Program eligibility for all of the programs detailed above can vary by location.

HCA Healthcare continues to invest up to $300 million in workforce development over the course of three years in the areas of expanded paid family leave benefits, education and training, education assistance and scholarship programs for colleagues’ children. Visit here for opportunities to work at HCA Healthcare.