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November 15th, 2022

Cook Medical wins HR Impact Award for innovative approach to High School Equivalency

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — It its inaugural HR Impact Awards, the Indianapolis Business Journal recognized Cook Medical’s High School Equivalency program. Cook’s program won in the Training and Development category of the HR Impact awards, a category that recognizes programs that help develop talent throughout a company—from frontline workers to executives.

From left, Gage Duncan, Bev Scott, Amanda Ballard, Nicky James, Ricky Sanchez, Shelby Martin (Photo courtesy of IBJ photo/Eric Learned)

“It’s an honor to be recognized by the IBJ for this program. To date, we’ve supported over 200 graduates, and I can tell you that each ceremony is a tremendous celebration for the graduate and their families,” said Pete Yonkman, president of Cook Medical and Cook Group. “Business has an opportunity to create real change in their communities with programs just like this. We encourage other organizations to use our HSE program as a paradigm to create their own. We’d be happy to share our experience with anyone interested. This program is good for business and good for our communities too.”

Launched in 2016 as part the My Cook Pathway program, Cook’s novel approach pays employees a full-time wage but requires them to only work part-time while they take courses to prepare for their high school equivalency exam.

Currently more than 29,000 adults aged 18-64 in the 10-county Southwest Central Indiana (SWCI) region and more than 5,000 adults in Monroe County do not have a high school diploma or HSE. According to the Indiana Department of Workforce Development, employees who have a high school diploma make an average of $8,000 per year more than employees without one.

“Cook is committed to removing barriers for employees. What makes Cook’s HSE program different is how we remove barriers for employees without their HSE,” said Nicky James, senior vice president and chief human resources officer of Cook Medical. “Many individuals that don’t have their HSE can’t take unpaid time to take classes and prep for their HSE test. Cook’s program directly addresses these by paying employees to study and providing a stable part-time job during their coursework. Even more remarkable is that employees are guaranteed a full-time role at Cook once they have successfully completed their HSE and were successful in their part-time role.”

Program details:

To apply to the High School Equivalency program and to learn more about Cook’s employee development opportunities, visit our employee support page.

About Cook Medical
Since 1963, Cook Medical has worked closely with physicians to develop technologies that eliminate the need for open surgery. Today we invent, manufacture and deliver a unique portfolio of medical devices to the healthcare systems of the world. Serving patients is a privilege, and we demand the highest standards of quality, ethics and service. We have remained family owned so that we have the freedom to focus on what we care about: patients, our employees and our communities.

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