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Stimulus Money Funding Healthcare Training

By CityTownInfo.com Staff
September 18, 2009

Numerous states are using federal stimulus funds to train workers in the healthcare sector.

The South Florida Sun-Sentinel reports that in Florida, unemployed and dislocated workers are most likely to receive the training dollars, but there are other funds directed at upgrading the skills of employed workers.

Linda Quick, director of the South Florida Hospital and Healthcare Association, noted, for example, that grants up to $6,000 are available for those who wish to pursue careers in physical therapy. Additionally, free specialty training is available for nurses through a program with Workforce One, an employment agency. Free job training is also available for entry-level positions such as mental health technicians, phlebotomists, EKG technicians and pharmacy technicians.

"We're not so much using the [stimulus] money to employ more people but to train people for employment that already exists," explained Quick. Joyita Garg, who is helping her coordinate stimulus funding for healthcare training, explained that this strategy eventually creates new jobs because training people for existing positions ultimately frees up space for new employees.

In Minnesota, the St. Paul Legal Ledger reports that three colleges have received federal money to expand the training of health care professionals. Among them is the University of Minnesota, which will receive nearly $90,000 under the public health traineeship program, supporting students in biostatistics, epidemiology, environmental health, toxicology, nutrition and maternal and child health.

The San Diego News Network reports that federal money is now also available to train for healthcare information technology (HIT) careers. Specifically, the San Diego Workforce Partnership--a nonprofit employment and training organization--is providing $400,000 over the next two years to train individuals for jobs such as healthcare integration engineer, healthcare systems analyst, clinical IT consultant and technology support specialist.

"Jobs in the healthcare information technology field are a critical component of plans for positive change in the healthcare industry," noted Mary Walshok, associate vice chancellor of public programs and dean of University of California--San Diego Extension, which recently created a new HIT program to train 100 individuals for these jobs.

"Although much of the anticipated reform for the U.S. healthcare system revolves around financial incentive and risk," Walshok said, "achieving the cost efficiencies necessary to support that reform depends on more aggressive application of information technology to daily healthcare operations."

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