Loan Reimbursements and Forgiveness May Help Aid Nursing Home Staffing Crisis

With the minimum staffing mandate coming into effect soon, nursing home operators may be looking for creative ways to increase staffing and retain employees.

Dr. Jasmine Travers, a gerontological nurse practitioner and assistant professor of nursing at New York University Rory Meyers College of Nursing, told Skilled Nursing News that a program that the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services recently announced could be adopted for nursing homes to increase staffing.

The program allows for those in pediatric specialties to receive loan reimbursements and loan forgiveness for working in underserved areas.


“I think that would be an important program to attract people to the long-term care workforce initially and to provide support for those working in long-term care,” she said.

Since many of the healthcare workers working in nursing homes are making less than they would be making in primary care or in a hospital setting, the program could attract people to the space who may otherwise opt to work elsewhere.

“If you were able to have that additional incentive and support, then that would attract more people to the nursing home space,” she said.


Travers added that there is a significant supply issue when it comes to nursing home staffing. The measure could help ensure that there is a safe number of staff working to improve resident care, she said.

“If we don’t have the workforce, then that staffing standard falls short,” she said. “So, we really need to find the supply of workers who can fill those positions that are so desperately needed. Being able to support and incentivize people to come to nursing homes would help address that supply issue.”

Travers said the program would come out of the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA).

“I suspect that Congress would need to authorize the funding,” she said. “It seems like the current administration and Congress are really supportive of improving staffing in nursing homes, and I believe this is an area they would strongly support.”

The program would mean having more staff, more workers coming to nursing homes, and a better-supported staff, which would in turn reduce concerns about loss of wages due to loans, Travers said.

She added that compared to going to another setting where they would be earning more and better able to manage their loan payments, this lack of gaps would make people more inclined to choose the nursing home setting, knowing that they would receive loan support.

“This is especially important for advanced providers such as physicians, physician assistants, physical therapists, occupational therapists, social workers, registered nurses, and even certified nursing assistants,” she said. “These individuals face significant financial barriers to entering this specialty while being paid significantly less compared to other areas.”

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