Polk State College is getting a boost to its nursing program, with Florida-based AdventHealth donating $1.7 million to the program to recruit and retain talent and to further enhance the program for students and the community, the college announced Monday.

AdventHealth is a faith-based, not-for-profit health care system based in Altamonte Springs with hundreds of care sites and more than 50 hospitals across the United States.

“Polk State College has an ongoing reputation of education excellence,” Tim Clark, president and CEO of the AdventHealth Polk market, said in a press release. “This partnership aligns with our mission of providing high-quality, whole-person care and will allow Polk State to continue to nurture the next generation of nurses and specifically help impact the need we have for highly trained and well qualified health care professionals.”

The need for registered nurses continues to grow, with this occupation listed on the 2021-2022 regional demand occupations list for Polk County with approximately 300 vacancies each year. According to data from Polk County, Northeast Polk is projected to have an additional 201,000 people by 2045, all of whom will need medical care. 

“Polk State is grateful to AdventHealth for its commitment to the advancement of quality education and training in health sciences,” Polk State President Angela Garcia Falconetti said. “AdventHealth’s donation will further support our college in recruiting and retaining highly skilled talent and further enhance the nursing program for both our students and the community, where our graduates are successfully filling critical workforce needs in healthcare.”

Polk State’s nursing program includes both associate in science and bachelor of science degrees. Polk State College officials said its associate in science nursing graduates consistently exceed state and national averages on the National Council Licensure Examination – Registered Nurse, with 2021 graduates boasting a nearly 91% pass rate on the exam, compared to 64% at the state level and 82% nationally.

The AdventHealth dean of nursing will provide support for the expansion of Polk State’s program, which they describe as limited-access and highly sought-after. It will also ensure the college will be able to track industry needs with AdventHealth.

Polk State College secured more than $35 million from the Legislature in the spring to expand its critical health sciences programs, remodel/renovate Building 3, and for the planning and site development of the Northeast Ridge campus for “a modern, state-of-the at teaching and learning environment” that will, in part, consolidate health science programs on the campus.

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Kimberly C. Moore, who grew up in Lakeland, has been a print, broadcast and multimedia journalist for more than 30 years. Before coming to LkldNow in the spring of 2022, she was a reporter for four years with The Ledger, first covering Lakeland City Hall and then Polk County schools. She is the author of “Star Crossed: The Story of Astronaut Lisa Nowak," published by University Press of Florida. Reach her at kimberly@lkldnow.com or 863-272-9250.

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