Sanford Health Adds GED Assistance Program

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SIOUX FALLS, SD (KELO) — As companies in KELOLAND compete to recruit employees, many are scrambling to add new ways to invest in their workforce.

Educational assistance is a common investment that many companies can offer, including Sanford Health. But now, one of the region’s largest employers has a new program targeting all levels of employees.

It takes more than doctors and nurses to make Sanford Health work.

“If you can think of a career, we probably have it here at Sanford,” said Sanford Health Director of Learning and Development Linda Heerde.

Many of the company’s more than 50,000 employees hold entry-level positions.

“There are a lot of different career options we have here that wouldn’t require a high school diploma,” Heerde said.

For years, Sanford has offered educational assistance to employees working toward their bachelor’s or master’s degrees or other certifications. Now they’ve added similar help for employees who may not have finished high school.

“How do we take people to this entry-level position, how do we invest in them, and really prepare them for a longer career in healthcare?” said Natasha Smith.

Smith is Sanford Health’s Chief Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer.

“One thing for me about fairness is that we’re always looking at barriers to entry,” Smith said.

For many people considering getting a GED, time and money are often major hurdles, which Natasha knows well.

“When I was very young I had a pretty tough upbringing, it became evident in my behavior and my willingness to participate in school. And I actually found myself pregnant as a teenager,” said Smith.

Completing her GED while supporting her new baby was a big challenge.

“I actually had to borrow money for GED, at the time I didn’t have the backing,” Smith said.

Now she wants other potential employees facing their own challenges to know that Sanford Health is ready to help.

“Removing some of these barriers, the time commitment barrier, employer support, removing the financial barrier, can really increase access for people,” Smith said.

Support employees at all levels, hoping to help them continue to grow within their organization.

“We would like to grow with this employee, figure out what really motivates them, what will bring those skills, and develop that passion alongside those employees,” Heerde said.

Sanford Health’s GED and other education assistance programs are part of the Sanford Health benefits package available to all employees.

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