Lakeland Regional Health hosted its inaugural Polk State College Night in February for Health Sciences students to get a firsthand look at the hospital’s different departments, network with hiring managers and employees, and learn about job opportunities – including those that are available to students while they complete their degrees.
Polk State and Lakeland Regional are longstanding partners, with Lakeland Regional serving as Polk County’s largest hospital and the College serving as Polk County’s largest higher education and workforce training institution.
With programs in Cardiovascular Technology, Diagnostic Medical Sonography, Emergency Medical Services, Medical Coding Specialist, Nursing, Occupational Therapy Assistant, Radiography, and Respiratory Care, Polk State graduates are consistently sought by Lakeland Regional and many have gone on to enjoy successful careers at the hospital.
“This event is an opportunity for managers and students to mingle and get to know each other. We have recruiters on hand talking about other positions that maybe while they’re in school they can get their foot in the door at Lakeland Regional, earn some money, and take advantage of some of our benefits like tuition reimbursement before they even graduate,” shared Sheree Veliz, Lakeland Regional Talent Acquisition Director.
Erin Carr, Director of Respiratory Care Services at Lakeland Regional, presented about her department. She was once a Polk State student herself and is a proud graduate of the College’s Respiratory Care Program.
“I love the partnership between Lakeland Regional Health and Polk State College because of the community we have here,” she said. “We are able to provide these jobs to these students and give them a future.”
Carr and representatives from other areas of the hospital shared about the benefits as well as the cultures of their departments, from competitive wages and pay differentials, to how they celebrate their colleagues’ birthdays and achievements.
They also shared why the education and training at Polk State College are important.
“I would definitely recommend that anyone considering going into healthcare attend Polk State College because we know that they produce students [who] are extremely high caliber; they are always very prepared to come into their jobs, and segue very well into our community,” shared Heather Mason, a Lakeland Regional Respiratory Specialist and Polk State Respiratory Care graduate.
Polk State Director of Health Sciences Beth Luckett echoed this.
“We have enjoyed such a lengthy, positive partnership with Lakeland Regional Health,” Luckett said. “They have so many opportunities and they support all of our students. They are always here recruiting our students because they know the Polk State student is the best that you can get.”
Polk State Health Sciences graduates consistently exceed state and national pass rates on licensure exams, illustrating their skills and preparation for successful careers in their fields. Polk State’s Diagnostic Medical Sonography, Emergency Medical Services Technician, Occupational Therapy Assistant, Paramedic, Radiography, and Respiratory Care programs all boasted 100% pass rates in 2022.
Polk State’s Health Sciences students left Lakeland Regional’s Polk State Night with excitement about their future careers and the opportunities available to them through this partnership while they are still students pursuing their health sciences degrees.
“Having an opportunity like this, you get your foot in the door, you get your feet wet, you get the experience,” Radiography student Marcia Scarlett said. “I would recommend Polk State College to other students looking to go into healthcare because it’s very competitive and if you can get in, they see something in you, and that just means you need to put your best foot forward and do it because, at the end, you’re probably going to be exactly where you want to be.”