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AFT Visits Greater Peoria 01

Greater Peoria’s Healthcare Workforce Development Highlighted During AFT Visit

For the last three years our efforts through our GP Pathways initiative – building a more robust and accessible system of career-development for our middle and high school students – has been supported by the American Federation of Teachers through their Innovation Fund.

This month, we had the pleasure of hosting Mary Cathryn Ricker, AFT’s Executive Vice President, to showcase some of the amazing workforce development activity underway within Greater Peoria’s healthcare industry.  Our healthcare partners continue to create more internships and other career development opportunities for our region’s high school students.

One of our visits with Michael Allen, CFO of OSF Healthcare, provided a deep dive into their internship program that provides students a ground-level view of careers in finance and accounting.OSF-Childrens-Hospital-Peoria-Illinois

“It is our mission to serve with the greatest care and love,” said Allen.  “We believe this is one more way OSF is able to do that.  Helping students in our community is a full realization of our mission.”

Initially, OSF Healthcare became involved with the effort to create student internships to help diversify the financial career sector and provide opportunities for students with historically low access.

Now, after an initial pilot internship, OSF Healthcare is looking to scale up and offer more opportunities to students, with three new interns starting at the end of January 2018!

To learn a bit more about the other opportunities being created for students in the healthcare space, we visited UnityPoint Health – Peoria.  We met with Courtney Newgard, Talent Acquisition Manager, to discuss an incredible program she has helped build that connects high school students to nine departments in their downtown Peoria hospital.

UnityPoint-Methodist“For us, the experience has been great,” said Newgard.  “We’ve learned so much from interacting with the students and hope most of them will stay interested in the healthcare sector after their internship is over.  It’s even helped us re-think how to help existing employees move upward within the organization.”

In their first year, UnityPoint Health – Peoria hosted eight interns.   In 2018 they are looking to increase that number to 20 with hopes of expanding the program to their newly acquired campus in Pekin, IL.

We wrapped up the visit by meeting with our partners at Illinois Central College to discuss how the work that AFT helped inspire will continue.  Moving forward, ICC and the GPEDC will work jointly to continue building these systems and ensure their sustainability.AFT-Visits-Greater-Peoria-02

“The afternoon was incredible, we’re so thrilled to support the building of a model that others could adapt in their own communities,” said Richer.  “We look forward to visiting again.”

To learn more about our efforts with GP Pathways, please contact Brent Baker, GP Pathways Co-Director at

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