Orlando Health Expands Free Education Benefit for Team Members

man sitting at table with laptop

Preferred Education Program welcomes Lake Sumter State College and St. Petersburg College

November 11, 2021 – Orlando Health’s popular employee benefit, the Preferred Education Program, has expanded. Effective November 10, Orlando Health and Bayfront Health St. Petersburg team members will be able to pursue an associate degree, bachelor’s degree, or certificate at Lake Sumter State College or St. Petersburg College, without incurring any out-of-pocket costs.

Since launching in December 2020 with Valencia College and expanding to include Seminole State College in August 2021, more than 700 team members have used the program. With the addition of the two new colleges, Orlando Health’s Preferred Education Program is now available on 26 college campuses in six Florida counties and through virtual learning, where available.

“The Preferred Education Program is one of several benefits that support and enrich the working environment at Orlando Health; enabling us to become one of the best places to work in Florida,” said Karen Frenier, chief nurse executive and senior vice president, Orlando Health Human Resources. “We are 100 percent committed to team members and to helping them achieve their career and life goals. In these first 11 months of the program, Orlando Health has provided nearly $1 million to cover the cost of tuition and books for participating team members.”

“We truly value the strong partnership between the College and Orlando Health South Lake Hospital,” said Dr. Stan Sidor, Lake-Sumter State College president. “Our current collaborations paved the way for innovative, industry-leading programs and opportunities for health sciences education available at Lake-Sumter State College. Now, we are excited to welcome even more Orlando Health team members into our classrooms and provide them opportunities to further their careers.” 

“We are so proud to join forces with Bayfront Health St. Petersburg to expand access and remove barriers to education for their employees as a Preferred Education Partner,” St. Petersburg College President Dr. Tonjua Williams said. “This partnership aligns perfectly with the college’s mission to provide economic mobility for our students, many of whom are working adults looking to transform their lives and advance in their careers."

With the Preferred Education Program, Orlando Health pays 100 percent of the cost of tuition and books – with no annual cap – directly to the colleges, so team members pay nothing. Administered by Bright Horizons EdAssist Solutions, the program offers an opportunity for team members to pursue a degree or technical certificate at any of the four colleges in many programs including nursing, diagnostic medical sonography, respiratory care, physical therapy, emergency medical technology, health services administration, health sciences, information technology, business, construction, hospitality, and more. Team members are also able to receive one-on-one support from Bright Horizons EdAssist Solutions academic coaches, and the college’s student affairs and advising staff, who will help guide them through every step of their academic journey.

Shared with permission from Orlando Health