A Future in Good Hands

Dr. Keith Knepp, UnityPoint Health – Peoria

It’s no surprise to many, especially those in healthcare, that there is tremendous demand and opportunity for nurses. According to a study published by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of registered nurses is projected to grow 16 percent from 2014 to 2024—much faster than the average for all occupations. Healthcare organizations across the country are preparing to meet this challenge. UnityPoint Health and Methodist College are no exception.

Methodist College started as a nurse training program in 1900, established by the deaconesses of the Methodist Episcopal Church. It has since grown to a college serving more than 650 students each year, offering baccalaureate and master's opportunities, including health science and social work bachelor’s degrees, as well as programs for medical and nursing assistants. Its importance to the community and to UnityPoint Health cannot be overstated. Many nurses and future nurse leaders of UnityPoint Health and other healthcare organizations received their education at Methodist College. The college boasts a 94% nursing board first-attempt pass rate—evidence of a strong academic environment as it positions graduates for success.

The college’s commitment to healthcare is highlighted by some notable initiatives. Two years ago, a new campus was unveiled in north Peoria, moving the college from its older facility in downtown Peoria to a modern facility located adjacent to The Shoppes at Grand Prairie. Not only did this move enable the college to expand physically, it brought new technology to campus, including a state-of-the-art simulation center, science labs, additional classrooms and meeting space, and on-site student housing. 

Many students at Methodist College are local commuters, but as the reputation and course offerings at the college continue to grow, it is attracting an increasing number of students from outside the Tri-County Area and students looking for a collegiate experience. The new campus answered this need with the development of Prairie Sky Apartments, which offers housing for students at Methodist College. For students who commute—either from within Peoria or from neighboring towns—the college’s new location near the intersection of Illinois Highway 6 and U.S. Highway 150 makes for a traffic-free commute.

With great programs, partnerships, facilities and infrastructure in place, the college is poised for continued growth and success. At the helm of that success will be the new chancellor, James R. Dire, PhD. Dr. Dire joined the college in August and brings more than 30 years of higher education experience to Methodist College. Dr. Dire continues to further the college’s mission of being a premier college for healthcare and human service education. 

UnityPoint Health and Methodist College have much to be proud of. As we look toward the future of healthcare, nursing and other health science professionals will play key roles. Thanks to the mission and work of the college, we know our future is in good hands. iBi

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