Tuition Reduction Incentive Plan (TRIP) latest model to help Mass General Brigham employees advance their careers
Spaulding Rehabilitation EMT Annie Vatcher is on her way to applying to graduate school, but she wouldn’t be on her journey yet if it weren’t for the MGH Institute of Health Profession’s pricing reduction on classes.
“It's been awesome,” said Vatcher, who wants to become a physician assistant. “I'm on my fourth prerequisite through that program; it’s saved me a lot of money, and it's made me able to take multiple classes in a year and keep the process going at a good pace.”
Kristen Kanoff is a nurse practitioner today but only a few years ago, she was a research coordinator looking to advance her career. That’s when she took advantage of the IHP’s voucher program – in place at the time - which enabled her to take six prerequisite courses needed to apply to nursing school.
“With the voucher I could take one more course than I normally could have afforded to take in the first place, because I was paying out of pocket for it myself all along,” said Kanoff. “I was able to speed up the trajectory, probably by a semester, with the discount.”
While the MGH Institute has long offered price reductions and vouchers to Mass General Brigham employees, the complexity of the conditions sometimes discouraged some from fully utilizing them. Not anymore.
Last summer, the MGH Institute introduced a more streamlined version of the tuition savings program called the Tuition Reduction Incentive Plan, or TRIP. Under this plan, any Mass General Brigham employee can receive a 40% reduction on more than 35 IHP programs and courses – including the 12-month Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing program - for any MGB employee.
Employees like Vatcher say the lower-priced classes have opened doors for her.
“It absolutely has,” said Vatcher, who has been with Spaulding for the past year and a half. “It's been a great program. I feel like I lucked out so much by stumbling upon it while working for Mass General Brigham. It's been a wonderful experience for me.”
While Vatcher enjoys the challenge of being an EMT, becoming a physician assistant will provide more autonomy. However, with a bachelor's degree in public health, Vatcher needed to take more science classes – and take the plunge. The IHP’s online prerequisite offerings were a bonus, along with the steep savings.
“I was like, ‘Oh, this is a no brainer - I'm just going to start,’” recalls Vatcher, who began taking classes in the fall of 2022. “Having the voucher program definitely helped me bite the bullet. I told myself, ‘I'm just going to start this because that's such a great deal and such a great program.’ It definitely got the ball rolling for me. And I'm so glad that I started when I did, because a year later, and I've gotten so much done. And I'm just like really excited now to keep it rolling and apply to school.”
After taking a final pre-requisite class this winter and having accumulated the required 1,000 hours of direct-patient care, Vatcher plans to apply to the MGH Institute’s Physician Assistant Studies program.
“I’m definitely excited – I love being part of the Mass General Brigham network,” she said. “The price reduction program has been wonderful. So, I’m a big fan.”
Kanoff is a big fan, too. A research coordinator in the neurology department at Massachusetts General Hospital, the psychology major had been looking at a number of nursing programs so she could take six pre-requisite courses. When Kanoff saw the reduced rate, that led her to the IHP; the lower-class costs allowed her to take classes at a faster pace.
“I just had such a good experience with those classes that it ultimately led me to applying to the nursing graduate program at the IHP,” said Kanoff, who graduated in 2022 with a masters in nursing. “It was a fantastic experience at the IHP all around. The clinical rotations and the extra curriculars that are offered put me in a really advantageous position to be hired by a well-known and highly regarded organization within my community. I was able to get those experiences that other programs may not offer which was helpful in furthering my career.”
While it can be daunting to go back to school to advance a career – or change one – the financial savings from the IHP’s tuition reduction can be the nudge that makes all the difference.
“The position that I held at MGH was an absolutely wonderful experience,” recalled Kanoff. “These sort of entry-level, just out of college research positions don't pay very much. And then you're living in the Boston area, so you have really prohibitive costs. Without programs like this that offer discounts, there are certain individuals who may be held back from being able to try and further their career because they can't afford to do so.”
With an advanced degree in hand, Kanoff now works at a North Shore Physicians Group primary care office in Salem where she’s encouraging a few colleagues to take advantage of the IHP’s revamped TRIP.
“I think it’s worth it - it pays off, but it’s going to be a lot of hard work,” Kanoff said. “It has to be a person who is willing to put the work in because it's not easy to work and take these classes. They're challenging. The IHP has a rigorous program. I had such a great experience. It's a lot of work, but it's worth it. I highly recommend it.”
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