Harnessing Early Interests

At Central Florida Health News, we work hard to take the top health headlines and drill down to the local level so you can see how the news affects you and your community.

You’ve likely read about the shortage of healthcare workers — especially nurses — in our articles and columns. That’s because the shortage has an impact on each and every one of us. According to a recent report released by the Florida Hospital Association, Florida is on track to see a shortage of at least 59,000 nurses by the year 2035.

What may not be as readily apparent in our coverage is the immense feeling of pride we have in our local educational institutions as they continually strive to expand access and improve healthcare education and training programs. In this edition, we talk at great lengths about strides at Southeastern University, Polk State College, and in BayCare’s FSU residency program.

The good work doesn’t stop there, however. Our schools and teachers harness the interest and passion for various career fields early on. Polk County’s many career academies include a college-prep curriculum and classes tailored to students’ specific interests. Fourteen of those academies have health and/or medical curricula aimed at building on interest and skills. An astounding 56 percent of county students are enrolled in an academy.

And we can’t forget about the 11 medical- and health-related training programs offered at Ridge and Traviss Technical Colleges.

The Polk County Public Schools have done a good job harnessing interest in health and medical sciences and getting those students on the right track for a future in health care, and we’d be remiss not to mention that hard work.

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