Backbone of Rural HIT Training is Community Colleges
However, he acknowledged that government budgets are tight and that "we have to learn to make do with what we have and do the best we can and try to partner with business and industry."
If the federal government does release more grant money, Smith says that funding should specifically target rural community colleges.
"They will release a grant for a specific program or specific service, but it is hard for us to compete against the urbans and suburbans because they have professional grant writers," he says. "Our folks wear three or four different hats at our rural schools and we haven't had grants targeted for rural schools."
Smith says an RCCA delegation that will include 25 rural community college presidents will visit Washington, DC next week to meet with federal officials on several fronts. If the federal government works with rural community colleges, Smith says, those colleges are capable of producing an HIT workforce.
"Local community colleges are the catalyst for economic development. They are a clearinghouse for information for rural communities," he says. "If we can get those federal agencies to understand that fact, it is a benefit to everybody, including them."
John Commins is a senior editor with HealthLeaders Media.
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