Orlando Health expands free education benefit for team members

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

Orlando, FL (November 10, 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.


About Orlando Health

Orlando Health, headquartered in Orlando, Florida, is a not-for-profit healthcare organization with $7.6 billion of assets under management that serves the southeastern United States.

Founded more than 100 years ago, the healthcare system is recognized around the world for its pediatric and adult Level One Trauma program as well as the only state-accredited Level Two Adult Trauma Center in the St. Petersburg region. It is the home of the nation’s largest neonatal intensive care unit under one roof, the only system in the southeast to offer open fetal surgery to repair the most severe forms of spina bifida, the site of an Olympic athlete training facility and operator of one of the largest and highest performing clinically integrated networks in the region. Orlando Health is a statutory teaching system that pioneers life-changing medical research. The 3,200-bed system includes 15 wholly-owned hospitals and emergency departments; rehabilitation services, cancer and heart institutes, imaging and laboratory services, wound care centers, physician offices for adults and pediatrics, skilled nursing facilities, an in-patient behavioral health facility, home healthcare services in partnership with LHC Group, and urgent care centers in partnership with CareSpot Urgent Care. Nearly 4,200 physicians, representing more than 80 medical specialties and subspecialties have privileges across the Orlando Health system, which employs nearly 22,000 team members. In FY20, Orlando Health served nearly 150,000 inpatients and nearly 3.1 million outpatients. During that same time period, Orlando Health provided approximately $760 million in total value to the communities it serves in the form of charity care, community benefit programs and services, community building activities and more. Additional information can be found at, or follow us on LinkedInFacebookInstagram and Twitter @orlandohealth.


About Lake Sumter State College

Founded in 1962, Lake-Sumter State College (LSSC) offers a high-quality education at an affordable price to the communities of Lake and Sumter counties. As a proud member of the Florida College System, LSSC serves more than 6,000 students annually at three locations: Leesburg, South Lake (Clermont), and Sumterville. LSSC offers non-credit, certificate, and degree programs designed to support and prepare students for today’s dynamic workforce. LSSC is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. Learn more about LSSC at


About St. Petersburg College

St. Petersburg College (SPC) alumni rank first in the state of Florida for possessing the most valuable job skills. Founded in 1927, SPC is Florida's first two-year college. Regionally accredited and nationally recognized, SPC was the first community college in Florida to offer bachelor’s degrees. SPC offers more than 100 degree and certificate programs, including many high-demand, high-skill industry-recognized workforce certifications. The college’s career-focused curriculum is created with input from industry experts to give students real-world skills needed to meet the needs of today’s employers.

Related Articles