A nurse with a stethoscope sits next to a child patient holding a teddy bear.

Benefits That Support the Careers of Health Care Professionals

A career in the health care industry has unique rewards and challenges. The employee benefits offered to health care professionals should support their financial, mental and physical well-being at every stage of their journey.
Dr. Mark Williams
Dr. Mark Williams, Medical Director, The Hartford
Physicians and nurses choose their field with great care and consideration. They often apply the same level of scrutiny when reviewing benefits options, seeking offerings that proactively support their mental health and financial needs.
Many health care employers offer benefits packages catered directly to the health care professional, including resources and flexibility that can make a great impact at any stage of their professional journey.

Early Career: Setting Employees Up for Success

Student loan debt can be overwhelming for anybody, but for those pursuing a career in health care, it can be downright crippling.
Although medical school graduates face an average debt reaching $250,000, huge educational investments aren’t limited to highly paid physicians. Nurses, on average, carry $40,000 in student loan debt according to Laurel Road’s 2024 survey.1 Physician Assistants average over $100,000 in such debt.2
With significant student loan repayments, the possibility of losing income from missing work due to an injury or illness is a serious concern for many health care workers. It’s important for your employees to consider how income protection benefits (also known as short-term and long-term disability insurance) can lessen the financial burden if they need time off to recover from an illness or injury.
  • Do the benefits you offer to your employees acknowledge the burden of student loans and help them keep up with payments if they need to miss work?
  • Do you include income protection benefits that protect lost wages if your employees need extended time off due to an injury or illness?

Mid-Career: Managing the Long Road Ahead

An established health care professional may have dug out from the burden of student loans, but the long hours, stress and substantial workload that come with the job persist.
According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), health care working conditions have always been challenging. Yet, since the pandemic, staffing shortages and increased workloads have amplified health care worker stress and anxiety.3
Couple that with the increase in verbal and physical abuse patient-facing health care workers (specifically nurses) may endure, and even the most resilient person can begin to show signs of stress and burnout.4
“Working in health care is high stress. It’s all about placing the needs of others above your own needs,” says Jessica Sullivan, medical case manager for The Hartford. Jessica spent 12 years as an emergency room and intensive care nurse before joining The Hartford. “It’s easy to feel like you’re emotionally exhausted all the time.”
  • Do the benefits you offer to your employees include mental health resources and tools designed specifically for health care professionals to help navigate the challenges they face inside and outside of work?
  • When and if your employees need to file a disability claim, can they count on the expertise of an insurance company backed by former health care professionals to help guide them through the filing process?

Late Career: Preparing for Retirement

When it’s time for your employees to consider retirement, they’ll want to know if they have enough money to do so comfortably, how many more years it will take for them to get there, and what will happen if they have an unforeseen medical issue that interrupts their path due to time away from work.
Falling behind financially doesn’t just affect the present but may impact future retirement planning as well. The physical toll of working in health care (such as an injury on the job), can disproportionately affect those tasked with strenuous activities, like lifting patients, according to Dr. Mark Williams, medical director at The Hartford. Facing a potential disabling condition on the job is always a risk, but income protection benefits can shield a health care worker from financial loss.
“The potential for income disparity in the health care industry, especially for all levels of patient-facing health care workers, means a stark difference in the ability to financially handle time away for work,” says Williams. “Higher paid health care providers, such as physicians, may have more earning options, like profit sharing, that may assist in times of hardship, but ensuring that benefits offered consider long-term financial goals for all types of health care workers can certainly help alleviate unnecessary stress.”
As health care employees approach the end of that long, rewarding career path, they’ll need benefits options that help defray potential impacts to pension plans or retirement savings.
  • Does the definition of disability in your disability plan let employees continue performing some essential duties while still offering benefits that support rehabilitation?
  • Does your benefit offering continue pension contributions that can help keep long-term financial goals on track if an employee experiences an injury or illness that requires an extended time off work to recover?

Holistic Benefits for Every Career Stage

Income protection benefits and financial guidance can help support health care workers if an injury or illness keeps them away from work. But health care groups that are in-tune with the unique needs of their providers know that a holistic benefits package includes resources for all facets of well-being. Health care professionals at every stage of their careers tend to combat mental fatigue amidst workload demands, professional certification requirements and technology upkeep. Continued access to mental wellness resources is critical for employees in this industry.  
Employee benefits that blend mental, financial and physical well-being can be key to sustaining a long, fulfilling career as a health care professional. During open enrollment, encourage your employees to reevaluate their benefits options and learn which benefits will meet their needs during each stage of their career.
1  Laurel Road Financial Survey: Healthcare Professionals & Student Loan Debt, viewed April 2024.
2  The American Academy of Physicians Assistants: Financial analysis of PA lifetime earnings and debt, viewed April 2024.
3  Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Healthcare Workers: Work Stress & Mental Health,” viewed April 2024.
4  National Public Radio, “Verbal abuse of healthcare workers has been up – as have their mental health problems,” viewed April 2024.
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