Achieve Healthy Results

From advanced clinical trials to robotic microsurgery, Polk County’s health sciences industry continues to evolve. This progressive sector boasts partnerships with major research institutions and cutting edge medical centers — and, with access to more than 9 million people within a 100-mile radius, the region is an ideal location for patient-based research.

With five major medical centers and a host of specialty clinics, healthcare is one of Polk County’s fastest-growing industries. A prime location for research and patient trials, the region is home to two institutional review boards at two major not-for-profit hospitals – Winter Haven Hospital and Lakeland Regional Health (formerly Lakeland Regional Medical Center), Florida’s fifth-largest hospital and home to the busiest single-site emergency department in Florida. Another R&D powerhouse, the Center for Retina and Macular Disease research program is one of the largest in the country for a community-based practice and rivals those of some of the largest academic medical centers. Strategic partnerships with major research institutions including the University of Florida College of Medicine and Shands Healthcare further elevate Polk County’s cutting-edge research. In total, Florida universities invest more than $1 billion in life science research each year.

Thanks to the growing strength and size of the industry as well as nationally-recognized education programs, area companies benefit from an ample, highly-skilled workforce. Graduates from the nursing program at Polk State College continually surpass both state and national performance benchmarks and comprise more than 60 percent of the region’s nursing staff. Polk County students  even have the opportunity to work with state-of-the-art surgical robots at the high school level through the MERIT (Medical, Engineering, Robotics Innovation for Tomorrow) program, which was developed through a creative partnership between Lakeland Regional Health Systems, All Saints Academy and Florida Polytechnic University.

If you’re a medical device manufacturer, you’ll also benefit from Polk County’s central location and well-connected, multimodal infrastructure. That’s why Steripack, a leading manufacturer of flexible medical packaging, chose Lakeland as the site for their first U.S. high-tech manufacturing facility. Sterigenics, the leading provider of device sterilization to the medical community, also has strong foothold in Polk County. With proven business advantages including low-cost real estate, no sales tax on manufacturing equipment and a robust talent pool with deep experience in both logistics and manufacturing, Central Florida is a clear win for the industry.

Featured Employers

Leading Education Programs

Polk State College – Nursing Program: Offering both Associate’s and Bachelor’s degrees, Polk State’s nursing program produces some of the best nurses in the country. Polk State graduates consistently outperform state and national benchmarks for licensing exams and make up the majority of the county’s Registered Nurse workforce. The Associate in Science program, which prepares students for the Registered Nurse licensing exam, regularly graduates 175 students per year, ensuring that the region has consistent access to a highly-skilled workforce.

Florida Southern College – School of Nursing and Health Sciences: Polk’s health care industry also benefits from Florida Southern’s nationally-recognized nursing program, which offers masters-level education for Nurse Educators, Clinical Nurse Specialists and Nurse Practitioners. Employers who hire Florida Southern graduates can rely on their real-world experience gained from industry partnerships with various Central Florida hospitals, long-term care and rehabilitation facilities, and athletic organizations.

Recent News:

Central Florida Health Care Continues to Expand, Provide Care to Underserved Communities 

Polk County Proves a Hot Spot for Medical-Related Growth