Funding the Future of Nursing

AdventHealth to Provide $1.7 Million for Polk State Program

story and photos by PAUL CATALA

Since 1965, Polk State College has instructed, encouraged, and placed about 21,500 students into successful nursing careers. On average, 430 nurses graduate from the school’s nursing college each year.

Now that program will have even more to offer thanks to a new partnership with AdventHealth. 

A collaborative partnership between AdventHealth and Polk State College formally launched on November 15. As part of the partnership, AdventHealth will contribute $1.7 million to the Polk State College Foundation. That money will be used to provide more resources to enhance and build PSC’s nursing program.

During an AdventHealth-PSC partnership announcement event in the college’s library, AdventHealth officials joined PSC administrators, instructors and students to officially launch the joint philanthropic-educational effort.

Polk State College President Angela Garcia Falconetti praised PSC’s associate in science in nursing 2021 graduates, which had a nearly 91 percent pass rate on the nursing National Council Licensure Examination, compared to 64 percent at the state level and 82 percent nationally.

She also mentioned the college’s new dean of nursing would be the first endowed dean position in PSC history.

“We are excited about the future,” she said. “We look forward to the future of the program, and I look forward to the continued program partnership.”

AdventHealth’s financial contribution will go to the Polk State College Foundation to provide resources to the nursing program, which includes Associate and Bachelor of Science degrees. 

According to PSC, the demand for registered nurses continues to grow nationally and locally. RNs are listed on the 2021- 2022 Regional Demand Occupations List for Polk County with approximately 300 vacancies open each year. The AdventHealth Dean of Nursing will provide support for the expansion of PSC’s limited-access nursing program while helping to keep the college at the forefront of industry change through the direct partnership with AdventHealth.

Tim Clark, president and CEO of the AdventHealth Polk Market, called the forged partnership an “honor” and would help AdventHealth’s nurse recruitment effort. He said it costs about $50,000 to recruit one RN to AdventHealth, adding that PSC nursing school graduates are “highly desirable” in the field.

The money will help PSC nursing college to recruit new nursing students and retain those already enrolled. 

“This gift will keep nurses at the forefront of a rapidly changing world. I look forward to many of you [PSC nursing students] looking to AdventHealth as an [career] option,” said Clark. 

AdventHealth West Florida Division includes facilities in Tampa, Dade City, Lake Wales, Sebring, Wauchula, and Wesley Chapel. The company also has seven freestanding offsite emergency rooms. 

At the event, PSC nursing student Zachary Weathers, who is set to graduate in December,  reflected on his experience at the school and what he thinks the new partnership will forge for future students. 

“(Nursing school) has been rigorous; it’s not for the faint-of-heart,” he said. “But it has inspired my passion to care for others. I’m excited to hear about the innovation that will be derived through this incredible gift.”

The 45-minute ceremony concluded with comments from Vincent King, interim executive director for the PSC Foundation, who said more than 50 years from now, there will be children of the nursing school graduates who are proud of what their parents accomplished in the field of nursing. He said his mother was a registered nurse for 33 years, and through the AdventHealth-Polk State College partnership, there will be even more chances for pride in the profession.

“You have my word I’ll be an engaged participant in this stewardship,” King said.

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