A great deal has been written about the impressive growth plans within the medical community in Peoria, from the Milestone Project at OSF Saint Francis, to the long-term acute care hospital that OSF and Methodist are partnering on, to a building that will house physician groups at the College of Medicine.
And we are aware of the strong medical education that happens here. We at OSF alone have nine residencies that prepare 200 physicians each year.
What can be easily overlooked is the extensive strata of healthcare education for nursing and allied health professions—part of the educational foundation upon which all else is built. Without a strong educational base, we would be like impressive storefronts with little on the interior. But that is not the case in Peoria.
There are several nursing programs in the immediate area, including programs at Bradley, Illinois Central College, Methodist Medical Center, the University of Illinois and OSF Saint Francis. But healthcare education in Peoria goes well beyond these outstanding programs.
Because I am most familiar with OSF, I’ll elaborate on our role. Not only does OSF Saint Francis have its College of Nursing with a projected spring enrollment of 390 in its bachelor and master’s programs but also five additional schools within its walls. They are:
• School of Medical Technology in which students learn to conduct the detailed laboratory results necessary for the accurate diagnosis and treatment of disease.
• School of Radiography, a two-year program that prepares students to administer radiology in the search for disease and abnormalities in patients.
• School of Histotechnology in which students learn to prepare tissue samples for disease diagnosis.
• Certified Nursing Assistant Training, provided in conjunction with ICC, is designed to provide practical, basic nursing skills for those who give direct patient care.
• Dietetic Internship Program, the final year of practical preparation that leads to students taking the test to become a registered dietitian. Ten students are enrolled each year.
These programs combine solid educational offerings with very practical, hands-on experiences from clinics to bedside care in the hospital to outpatient settings.
But our impact on healthcare education extends beyond our walls as schools throughout the nation send their students to OSF for clinical experiences. We have students from Bradley, ICC, ISU and other Illinois public and private schools as well as students from schools in Nebraska, Indiana, Iowa, Alabama, Missouri and Connecticut.
I recently reviewed a list of programs from which we at OSF provide clinical sites for non-OSF programs. Exposure to the medical community in Peoria is an important component of the students’ education. The list was an impressive three-page document with 113 entries. There were 57 separate institutions listed, and the list of disciplines was extensive, including:
• Occupational therapy
• Physical therapy
• Respiratory therapy
• Clinical Laboratory Science
• Social work
And the list could go on.
The point, of course, is that healthcare education is happening in our city for which we should be very proud.
One final note: if you become a patient at one of the Peoria hospitals, you may encounter one of our students. It could be a future X-ray tech or a future nurse or rehab specialist. That student will be accompanied by an instructor or faculty member. You’ll be in good hands. You might want to extend your congratulations to that student for choosing a healthcare profession. We are proud of them and those who take the time to provide instruction and clinical experiences. Peoria is a much richer place because of the healthcare education that occurs here. IBI