Many Hats, One Passion
Fred Freedman has always been intensely focused on one thing.
For the last three decades, he’s worked hard to help thousands of non-traditional students improve their lives through career and technical education.
He’s worked for multiple schools (he even owned one for a short time) and has been responsible for everything from admissions to marketing to operations.
Today, Fred is the President and CEO of Pima Medical Institute, a career college that provides hands-on training, certifications, and degrees to students seeking jobs in health care fields.
The school is celebrating its 45th year serving students.
“Many schools are struggling to keep up in this post-recession economy,” Fred says, “but I’m proud to say that Pima Medical continues to grow.”
The school’s success, he says, is a combination of many factors: traditions stemming from family values, an appreciation for the needs of non-traditional students, a unique ownership model, and an extraordinary clinical experience for every student.
The school’s success, Fred says, is a combination of many factors: traditions stemming from family values, an appreciation for the needs of non-traditional students, a unique ownership model, and an extraordinary clinical experience for every student.
A Respected History
An entire family with a similar passion for education preceded Fred at Pima Medical.
The school was founded in Tucson, Arizona in 1972 by Richard Luebke, Sr. and his wife JoAnn.
“That first year, they had literally four students enrolled, but knew this was just the beginning,” Fred says.
“That first year, they had literally four students enrolled, but knew this was just the beginning.”
It was the Luebkes’ dream to provide students with a quality medical career education that would lead to a rewarding career in the field, he says.
“Richard, Sr. felt strongly that schools should exist to provide value and outstanding education to students—and that profit should only be a byproduct of that service.”
“As cliche as it may sound, they founded and operated the school on ‘family values.’”
Fred is the first non-family member to serve as the school’s CEO. Richard Luebke, Jr. and Mark Luebke previously served as President and CEO.
“It’s an honor to carry on the values and traditions of Pima Medical’s founding family,” he says.
Serving Non-Traditional Students
Fred says that Pima Medical enrolls approximately 11,000 new students each year.
“The majority of them are ‘non-traditional students’—meaning they don’t spend their childhoods gearing up to get into a four-year college or university.”
Pima Medical’s student population consists of 75% women, the majority of which are women in their mid to late twenties, Fred says.
Many are moms. Some are single moms.
Some are just starting a career, but others are looking to change fields.
Regardless of background, Fred says, the typical student is motivated by two things: stability and earning opportunity.
“As the population in our country ages, opportunities for work in healthcare are rapidly increasing.”
“Pima Medical checks both boxes. The careers we educate students for aren’t going anywhere, and they have the opportunity to earn higher-than-average salaries for entry level positions.”
“The careers we educate students for aren’t going anywhere, and they have the opportunity to earn higher-than-average salaries for entry level positions.”
Regardless of which program a Pima Medical student is enrolled in (there are 28 in total that are either on-ground or online), he or she completes a clinical externship.
Students are placed in clinics, doctors’ offices, hospitals, pharmacies, and even veterinary practices where they are directly mentored by professionals in their chosen career field.
“Experience in a hands-on environment is a core component of a Pima Medical education,” Fred says.
“It’s a student’s chance to shine—to practice the knowledge and skills they’ve acquired in the classroom.”
Fred says many students liken their externship to an extended job interview.
They are able to ask questions and observe more-experienced professionals—as well as gauge whether they would enjoy a full-time position at their externship location after graduation.
“Approximately 50 percent of externships result in job offers.”
“We are extremely proud of our students.”
Fred says he always strives for this “circle of life” scenario: “A student graduates, goes on to a successful career at his or her externship location, moves up the ranks, and eventually hires a Pima Medical extern to start the cycle of success again.”
Celebrating 45 Years
Recently, Pima Medical celebrated its 100,000th graduate.
The school has a long tradition of maintaining student outcomes and lower tuition as the primary drivers of success.
“That’s the definition of value.”
Still, Fred says the best aspects of Pima Medical aren’t things you read about in the catalog.
“As a result of our reputation, thousands of students put their futures in our hands.”
“The responsibility is somewhat overwhelming. But I take great satisfaction in the fact that we’re doing a very good job helping students advance their educations, their careers, and ultimately better their lives.”
As CEO, Fred says he’s making an effort throughout this 45th year to reinforce the founding philosophy and values to all Pima Medical students and faculty.
Staying true to those things, he says, has allowed the school to live up to its tagline: “Trusted. Respected. Preferred.”
“We take our values seriously, we talk about them regularly, and they are integral to our culture.”
“As long as it stays that way, we’ll continue to do right by every community we serve.”
“We take our values seriously, we talk about them regularly,
and they are integral to our culture. As long as it stays that way,
we’ll continue to do right by every community we serve.”