If you are like most healthcare professionals, you plan to advance in your career. Perhaps you wish to become a VP of Risk and Compliance or a Chief Compliance Officer, but lack the advanced understanding of healthcare laws and compliance issues. The healthcare industry is growing at a rapid pace and employers will need to meet the regulatory demands that come with a growth industry. As a result, they will need well-educated employees who possess graduate degrees in relevant fields, such as the Master of Jurisprudence in Healthcare Compliance (M.J.).
As an employee you may be thinking about the cost associated with healthcare compliance training. Taking out loans to fund your degree can be daunting. Whether or not your boss should pay for healthcare compliance training depends on the restrictions set forth in the tuition reimbursement agreement.
What to consider when pursuing an advanced degree
Review your company’s benefits: If they do not offer this as a benefit, then it is time to construct your case. We will help you do that below. If they offer this benefit, review their policies to see if they are in line with some of the other companies in your industry. Big companies like Google, Procter & Gamble and AFLAC are examples of pretty good reimbursement programs. Smaller companies may not be able to afford such generous packages.
Learn the rules:
Find out how long you will need to work for the company before they will pay for your courses.
Find out if they will reimburse you for the full amount or a partial amount of tuition for each course. They may set a percent cap or cap their reimbursement at the in-state, per-credit rate the local public college charges.
Determine if they place a cap on the amount they will reimburse each year.
Some employers only reimburse for courses, degrees or certificates related to your current employment. You may need to build your case if you want the degree to get another job in the company. Others have broad policies that cover bachelor and master’s degrees, and even law degrees, with no questions asked. Review that part carefully.
Many employers require a certain grade in each class as part of the reimbursement agreement. You fail to make the grade, you do not get reimbursed. Great incentive to master the material!
Most Important Point Yet: The Commitment Clause. Companies know that once you earn the degree, you will be valuable to other employers who may make you attractive offers. Therefore, they often add a clause in tuition remission agreements that requires you to stay employed for a certain number of years after your last course or they will seek repayment of all contributions paid toward the program of study.
Building your case for tuition remission: What is in it for them?
Make sure they are aware of the tax benefit at the state and federal level. Employers may be able to deduct up to $5,250 for tuition reimbursement programs.
Employee retention and community recognition. Let your company know about your dedication to your community. Tell them about your work with non-profits, where you serve as a volunteer, what boards you sit on, etc. Employees who are committed to their communities are less likely to leave town for another job.
Explain how the curriculum will directly benefit your work and the bottom line. In addition to reminding them of your past accomplishments and top annual review scores, speak about the courses you will take and how they will directly impact your performance.
Address the elephant in the room: Time. Make it clear to your employer that you will do all coursework during the evening and on the weekends. They will need assurances that your program will not adversely affect your performance at work. Look for an online program to allow for even more flexibility.
Finally, come armed with a competitive analysis. What are your direct competitors offering their employees? Be prepared to show them a chart that breaks down benefit packages.
If you seek tuition reimbursement for your healthcare compliance degree at a company with no existing program, be prepared to negotiate with your employer. If they already have a program, you may not have as much wiggle room.
Once you have an agreement in place, you need to look for a program that allows you to gain the skills and experience needed to move into leadership roles in healthcare and regulatory compliance. You also need to look for a program that teaches you how to assess and manage risk, effectively communicate legal issues and improve patient outcomes.The M.J. in Healthcare Compliance offered at Stetson University College of Law is an online program designed to address these needs. This part-time program allows you to do your school work at your convenience no matter where you are. For Road Warriors this is an ideal program. The best part yet… they will even waive the GRE for experienced applicants.