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Quality Through Collaboration: The Future of Rural Health
The 2003 IOM report Health Professions Education: A Bridge to Quality identifies five core competencies that all health care professionals should master to provide high-quality care: (1) provide patient-centered care, (2) work in interdisciplinary teams, (3) employ evidence-based practice, (4) apply quality improvement, and (5) utilize informatics. The federal government sponsors numerous workforce education programs that provide experientially based training for practicing health professionals, and these should be expanded to focus greater attention on helping professionals master the core 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.
Specifically, more stable and generous funding should be provided for the Quentin Burdick Program to conduct demonstrations in several rural communities that 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 the Health Resources and Services Administration’s (HRSA) funding of 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 services and emergency care). Also, programs that recruit students from minority and underserved communities for health professions careers in rural areas—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 the Indian Health Service—should expand their recruitment and placement efforts in rural communities.
In expanding experientially based workforce training programs, the federal government should place particular emphasis on the types of health