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Quality Through Collaboration: The Future of Rural Health
mation technology should be strengthened to assist health care professionals already in practice in mastering these competencies.
Recommendation 3. Congress should provide appropriate resources to the Health Resources and Services Administration to expand experientially based workforce training programs in rural areas to ensure that all health care professionals master the core competencies of providing patient-centered care, working in interdisciplinary teams, employing evidence-based practice, applying quality improvement, and utilizing informatics. These competencies are relevant to the many discipline-specific and multidisciplinary programs supported under Titles VII and VIII of the Social Security Act.
There are many opportunities to redesign existing workforce training programs in ways that will support rural communities in their efforts to improve the quality of health care and enhance population health:
More stable and generous funding should be provided for the Quentin Burdick Program to conduct demonstrations in several rural communities. These demonstrations should provide for (1) the training of leadership teams to mobilize community resources, (2) communitywide health literacy programs, and (3) interdisciplinary health professions education in the core competencies essential to improving quality.
Workforce programs such as HRSA’s Area Health Education Centers, Health Education and Training Centers, and Geriatric Education Centers should explicitly target rural localities, and broaden their scope beyond physician supply to include midlevel providers in specialties in short supply in rural areas (e.g., mental health and substance abuse and emergency care).
Workforce programs that recruit students from minority and underserved communities for health professions careers in rural communities—such as the Health Careers Opportunity Program, HRSA’s Centers of Excellence program, scholarship and loan repayment programs for disadvantaged students, and such programs offered by IHS—should expand their recruitment and placement efforts in rural communities.
In expanding experientially based workforce recruitment and training programs, the federal government should place particular emphasis on the types of health professionals that are in very short supply and on the geographic areas experiencing the greatest difficulty in recruitment and reten-