$1.3 million trains healthcare workers

The PATH to better care: Training tomorrow's healthcare heroes graphic novel cover Published September 26, 2023

Alicia Petro saw firsthand the growing need for healthcare workers working as a 911 call center supervisor during the pandemic. She decided to shift her career to nursing and is one of many students pursuing a healthcare career at a lower cost because of a $1.3 million grant.

College of Lake County (CLC) received the Pipeline for the Advancement of the Healthcare Workforce Program (PATH) grant from the Illinois Community College Board (ICCB) for the second year in a row.

Petro came to CLC to take night classes while continuing to work full-time. In addition to tuition and fees, healthcare programs include costs related to equipment and tests, but Petro had these costs covered by the grant.

ICCB created PATH to tackle growing healthcare workforce shortages. CLC targeted healthcare inequality and cultural competence in medical professions as other issues to address with the program.

The PATH grant reduces barriers to success by providing funding for books, tuition and other expenses involved in healthcare programs. It also provides students with wrap-around assistance such as laptops, career guidance and program-specific tutoring.

Students don’t even need to apply for the grant, as it’s automatically applied to students in eligible programs.

“It was a surprise to see I received the grant, but it was a welcome one,” Petro said. “It made the difference in me not having to take out a loan.” 

Eligible programs include:

This year, tutoring is expanding to include students working on prerequisites for healthcare programs. CLC is also purchasing new equipment, including new digital imaging receptors and an advanced pediatric simulator.

CLC surpassed the goals set during the first year of the program. More than 1,300 students enrolled in PATH-eligible programs, and more than 1,100 completed a credential.

“The PATH grant has helped us raise awareness about the need for these careers in Lake County,” Biological and Health Sciences Associate Dean Michael Garamoni said. “Once students find out there’s financial support, they’re far more inclined to pursue a credential.”

Read more information about PATH.