Freeman News

Grow Your Own grant to help students learn about healthcare careers

October 03, 2013

Freeman Health System has been awarded a "Grow Your Own" grant from the Missouri Hospital Association.

Joplin, Mo.—Freeman Health System has been awarded a "Grow Your Own" grant from the Missouri Hospital Association. The $50,000 grant will be used to expand Freeman Health Academy, an existing program that provides workshops and summer camps to help middle and high school students explore healthcare careers. Through this grant, Freeman will extend Freeman Health Academy offerings to younger students, aged 10 -12.

The aging population, growing number of individuals with chronic conditions, and expanded access to health insurance have led to increasing demands on the healthcare system. These factors and others have generated an urgent need for additional hospital caregivers. In addition, implementation of the Affordable Care Act, which includes significant changes to payments and healthcare delivery systems, coupled with new technology, such as electronic health records, has increased the demand in the healthcare industry for workers with highly specialized skills.

“This grant gives us the opportunity reach younger students and foster their interest in healthcare,” said Paula Baker, Freeman President and Chief Executive Officer. “By participating in Freeman Health Academy, students learn what they must do to prepare for careers in healthcare. The program encourages students to graduate from high school and gives them an understanding of the kind of higher education they will need.”

At Freeman, Grow Your Own funds will be used to expand Freeman Health Academy, which provides elementary, middle, and high school students with opportunities to meet and interact with healthcare professionals from across the health system. Through Freeman Health Academy, students learn from nurses, doctors, and other professionals about healthcare careers. Casey Himmelsbach is the Freeman Health Academy project coordinator.

"The workforce challenge for Missouri hospitals is twofold," said Herb B. Kuhn, MHA President and Chief Executive Officer. "First, hospitals must address the shortage of educated healthcare workers, including primary care physicians, nurses, therapists, and imaging technicians, to meet the expanding demand for care. Second, hospital leaders also must recruit and retain talented individuals to manage increasingly complex healthcare organizations. The Grow Your Own program allows hospitals to address these challenges with plans that are tailored to the needs of their organizations and the communities they serve."

Grow Your Own grant applications were submitted in July. The applications were reviewed and selected by an independent committee composed of representatives from healthcare, educational institutions, and nonprofit organizations with experience in healthcare grant development and funding processes.

About Freeman Health System
Based in Joplin, Mo., and proudly recognized as the Best Hospital in southwest Missouri—as well as ranked #4 in the state—by US News & World Report, Freeman Health System provides comprehensive healthcare and behavioral health services, including cancer care, heart and vascular care, neurosciences, orthopaedics, and women’s services. The area’s only locally owned, not-for-profit health system, Freeman has more than 300 physicians representing 60 specialties serving southwest Missouri, southeast Kansas, northeast Oklahoma, and northwest Arkansas. For more information, visit or, or follow Freeman President and Chief Executive Officer Paula Baker at