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Polk Schools Offer Array of Medical Programs to Prepare Students for Booming Healthcare Fields


The healthcare sector is booming, and people all across the country are taking note. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) says that from 2006 and 2016, 2.8 million jobs were added to the health sector. That’s almost seven times faster than the rest of the economy! Jobs in healthcare settings grew more than 20 percent, outpacing jobs in other areas of the economy. Better yet, BLS expects the growth of jobs in the healthcare sector will continue to grow at a rate of 6 percent during the next decade. 

Perfectly in tune with the positive predictions for the future of the industry, Polk County is a prime training ground for healthcare professions. 

A wide variety of medical curriculum options are available to students at area higher education schools, allowing for career choices ranging from medical laboratory sciences to nursing programs.

Melody Rider, campus president at Keiser University, says nursing is among the most populated programs at her school. Obtaining an associate of science and nursing and/or a bachelor of science in nursing are high on the list, as well as programs that train students to become physical therapist assistants, respiratory therapists, and registered alcohol and drug technicians.

The school’s diagnostic medical sonography program is climbing in attendance numbers, Rider says. “Nursing remains strong,  with the  bachelor of nursing on the climb,” Rider says.

Enrollment in Imaging Sciences remains steady at the school, and the physical therapist assistant program is in high demand. The bachelor’s program leading from a registered nursing degree to a bachelor of science degree in nursing is also a draw at Keiser.

At Polk State College, administrators are proud of the school’s health sciences programs. “Polk State College’s health sciences programs have maintained a longstanding reputation and boast impressive graduation, certification and employment rates that reinforce their rigor and success in preparing students for careers in healthcare,” says Madison Fantozzi, director of communications.


We’ve compiled a full list of training opportunities at local schools. It is important to note that schools have set up individually appropriate resolutions to learning during the pandemic. Usual opening dates may be delayed, and e-learning options have been created in many cases.


Florida Southern College

111 Lake Hollingsworth Drive, Lakeland, FL 33801, (863) 680-4111


A Medical Laboratory Sciences degree is an allied health career opportunity for students interested in working in a clinical laboratory. Medical laboratory scientists are healthcare professionals who perform chemical, hematological, immunological, histopathological, cytopathological, microscopic, and bacteriological diagnostic analyses on patient samples. 

Students usually work in hospital clinical laboratories, commercial laboratories, for pharmaceutical, chemical, or biotechnology companies. They are also involved in research at teaching institutions.

This four-year degree includes experience working in the clinical laboratories at  Lakeland Regional Health Medical Center. Students begin taking courses at the hospital in their third year before transitioning into a full-time internship in their fourth year.

Students find many opportunities in the Lakeland area to gain experience, as well as across the country and even internationally. 


Florida Technical College

4715 S. Florida Ave., Suite 4, Lakeland, FL 33813, (863) 619-6200

The college offers a bachelor’s degree in Allied Health Management that combines courses offering skills such as managing the administrative area within a health services organization, medical law and regulations and current procedural coding with health information resources. The program is designed to prepare a student for a career as a health services administrator.

Graduates may take exams for the American Academy of Professional Coders (AAPC), the Certified Professional Coder (CPC) exam and the Certified Physician Practice Manager (CPPM) exam.


Keiser University

2400 Interstate Drive, Lakeland, FL 33805, (863) 682-6020

At Keiser, medical study options include associate degrees in biotechnology, diagnostic medical sonography, health services administration, histotechnology, massage therapy and medical administrative billing and coding. Other areas of study include medical assisting, medical laboratory technician, nuclear medicine technology, nursing, occupational therapy assistant, physical therapy assistant and radiation therapy.

Keiser also offers programs in radiologic technology, respiratory therapy, sports medicine and fitness technology and surgical technology. Bachelor’s degrees are available in pre-med, or biomedical sciences, pre-physician assistant, dietetics and nutrition, exercise science, health information management, health science, health services administration, imaging sciences and pre-doctorate in physical therapy. There are also numerous graduate degrees available in medical fields.


Polk State College

999 Ave. H NE, Winter Haven, FL 33881, (863) 297-1000

Polk State College offers programs for registered nurses who have an associate degree in nursing, or diplomas in nursing from approved programs, the opportunity to advance in educational and career goals. 

Upper-level coursework at Polk State emphasizes nursing leadership and professional development skills. Classes are online and about eight weeks long.

The Associate of Science and Baccalaureate nursing programs are offered at Polk State College’s Lakeland and Winter Haven sites. The school offers coursework in cardiovascular technology, diagnostic medical sonography, emergency medical services,  medical coding, occupational therapy assistance, physical therapy assistance radiography and respiratory care.


Ridge Technical Center

7700 State Road 544, Winter Haven, FL 33881, (863) 419-3060

The practical nursing program at Ridge Vocational Technical prepares students to enter the field of nursing. It provides students with skills necessary to practice nursing care in numerous healthcare settings. The content includes, but is not limited to, theoretical instruction and clinical experience in medical, surgical, obstetric, pediatric, and geriatric nursing — along with theoretical instruction and clinical experience in acute, care, long term care and community settings. The program is designed to prepare students for employment as licensed practical nurses and is approved by the Florida Board of Nursing.


South Florida State College

600 W. College Drive, Avon Park, FL 33825, (863) 453-6661

Emergency medical services, health science, nursing education and radiography are popular programs at this school.


Southern Technical College

450 Havendale Blvd., Auburndale, FL 33823, (863) 551-1112

At Southern Technical College, the Associate’s Degree in Nursing program can be completed in less than two years and is approved by the Florida Board of Nursing. In the nursing program, students may receive specialized training in critical care or perioperative nursing. After graduation, students will be eligible to take the National Council Licensing Exam (NCLEX-RN) to become a registered nurse. After passing the exam, employment may be sought in many settings, including hospitals and other healthcare facilities.


Traviss Technical College

3225 Winter Lake Road, Lakeland, FL 33803, (863) 499-2700

The Medical Assisting Program offers rigorous, challenging content to prepare students to work in the clinical setting as a Medical Assistant. This program is designed to provide students with hands-on clinical experience in multiple specialty areas,  including obstetrics and gynecology, cardiology and surgery.

This program prepares students with hands-on training that enables them to train under the supervision of surgeons, registered operating room nurses and surgical technologists in many surgical procedures. The content includes communication and interpersonal skills, legal and ethical responsibilities, anatomy, physiology, pathophysiology, microbiology, asepsis and sterilization techniques, surgical procedures, safe use and care of equipment and supplies, CPR, employability skills and basic computer literacy. 


Warner University

13895 U.S. 27, Lake Wales, FL 33859, (863) 638-1426

The school offers a Bachelor of Arts in healthcare management. The faith-based institution also features a highly unique training g facility called HEART (Hunger Education And Resources Training). It is a simulated developing country village where students train in missionary fieldwork while living in an environment similar to underdeveloped parts of the world. 


Webber International University 

1201 N. Scenic Highway, Babson Park, FL 33827, (863) 638-2910


Webber offers programs in health services administration, occupational therapy, psychology and sports performance, health and fitness.

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