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Bellevue College gets $11.8 million grant to provide training to veterans

 

Bellevue College has received an $11.8 million grant under the Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training program to provide training in Health Information Technology for veterans and dislocated workers. It is the largest single grant the college has received in its nearly 50-year history. The grant was provided by the U.S. Department of Labor.

The money – $11,775,297 to be exact – will fund the Health e-Workforce Consortium, led by BC, that will develop and pilot a health IT apprenticeship program and career services initiative. Through a combination of on-campus and online classes at BC and seven other community colleges in Washington state and one in northern Virginia, the program will help over 2,000 participants (with 1,700 in this state) work toward certificates and degrees in health IT.

In addition to Trade Adjustment Act-eligible workers, a special focus will be on assisting military veterans and eligible spouses. The materials created by the consortium will be available for other colleges nationwide to use to train even more people.

The goal is to create pathways to careers in the fast-growing field of health IT. With the computerization of health records, providers increasingly rely on information systems to manage patient information and other health data. As a result, demand for individuals who can implement and maintain these data systems, which require a unique set of skills specific to healthcare, is growing significantly.

According to estimates by the American Medical Informatics Association, it will take as many as 200,000 workers to satisfy the projected job market demand, with thousands of positions in Washington state.

“This grant will do so much to help our returning veterans and others in our state learn the skills they need to get these good-paying jobs so they can support themselves and their families,” said interim BC President Laura Saunders. “It’s also a win for health care providers and other companies who need qualified workers in this field.”

Bellevue College has been a national leader in developing education and training programs in health IT. In 2010, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the National Science Foundation awarded the college grants of $6.4 million and $500,000 respectively to conduct training and create a national certification standard and training curriculum. This work led to the creation of a health IT bachelor’s degree program, BC’s third, that just launched with the start of fall quarter.

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