A federal program to boost the number of health I.T. workers will graduate 2,280 workers this month, a total the Office of the National Coordinator expects to rise to 3,000 by the end of summer.

The Community College Consortia to Educate Health IT Professionals program is part of an array of efforts by ONC to address the HIT workforce shortage. The government estimates 50,000 more workers are needed industrywide to keep up with increasing I.T. demands. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act appropriated to ONC $2 billion in discretionary funds for health I.T. programs, including funding to address the worker shortfall.

The Community College Consortia comprises five regional groups with 82 member community colleges. Member colleges received grants to develop or improve non-degree HIT programs that could be completed in six months or less. ONC says the consortia is on target to graduate 7,000 HIT workers by year-end and will aim for 10,500 per year by 2012.

ONC also noted in the announcement that 1,500 people will receive certificates of advanced study from the Program of Assistance for University-Based Training. In total, more than $100 million in stimulus funds have been awarded or likely to be available for community colleges and universities to establish or expand programs for HIT roles that require college-level training. Students can complete the undergrad certification programs in one year or less, and master's degree programs in two years or less.

For more information on the various workforce programs, click here.

--Greg Gillespie


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