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Rural Health Information Hub

Telehealth Models for Promoting Workforce Education and Training

Telehealth can be used to help the rural health workforce overcome barriers to receiving education and training and allow providers to meet the evolving needs of their patients. Instead of traveling for continuing education, rural providers can access telehealth technology, such as videoconferencing, to receive face-to-face instruction and to demonstrate the skills they have acquired through distance learning. Many distance education courses use telehealth technology to deliver aspects of their curriculum. Providers in rural areas can also receive tele-mentoring from specialists located elsewhere in order to build their capacity to address complex cases.

The delivery of training and education with telecommunication technology is also referred to as telementoring. Rural communities interested in receiving support for telementoring can contact the Rural Telementoring Training Center (RTTC) for assistance. RTTC identifies six telementoring models that may help build the capacity of the rural health workforce:

  • ECHO, a hub-and-spoke model that connects rural providers with subject matter experts in other locations. Many rural providers participate in Project ECHO.
  • Individual consultation, which includes one-on-one mentoring between a rural provider and a specialist.
  • Webinars, which allow rural providers to watch presentations and ask questions of subject matter experts.
  • Podcasts, which can target specific learning interests, be delivered in different formats, and may reach a wider audience.
  • Online modules and curricula, which allow for self-paced distance learning
  • Adapted community health clubs, which are regular meetings where healthcare workers can meet with peers to discuss specific health topics.

Other Examples of Workforce Training and Education through Telehealth

  • The Virtual Infusion Project in South Dakota trains nurses on evidence-based infusion safety standards to increase their capacity to administer chemotherapy and address the side effects of treatment. The project offers biweekly oncology education sessions through telehealth that allow infusion nurses to continue to build expertise.
  • The TeleEmergency program at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center offers educational training to hospital staff and emergency medical technicians across rural New Hampshire and Vermont. For example, physicians at the TeleEmergency center may use live video to observe nurses at a Critical Access Hospital performing a mock code simulation. TeleEmergency staff then provide feedback to the nurses and offer suggestions to continue to build their capacity to respond to urgent care situations. In addition, Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center helps to build the capacity of rural hospital staff through the Center for Rural Emergency Services and Trauma (CREST), which uses telehealth to conduct case reviews and outreach rounds on topics related to emergency and trauma care.
  • The EMS Live@Nite program provides free monthly online trainings to law enforcement, healthcare providers, EMTs, paramedics, and other volunteers in 140 rural locations across six northwestern states. Inland Northwest Health Services delivers trainings in partnership with Spokane County EMS through the Northwest Telehealth videoconferencing network. EMS Live@Nite has allowed rural EMS workers to overcome barriers of distance, time, and cost that previously prevented them from receiving continuing education.
  • The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Distance Learning and Telemedicine (DLT) Grants provide critical funding for provider education and workforce development in rural communities. For example, the Central Michigan University College of Medicine uses DLT funding to help fund its Comprehensive Community Clerkship, which prepares medical students to work in underserved rural and urban areas. Students use telehealth technology to receive instruction, share clinical experiences, and connect with their peers.

Program Clearinghouse Examples

Resources to Learn More

Southwest Telehealth Resource Center Online Education: Video Library
A collection of online training videos, available in six languages, for telehealth program staff. A brief survey is required to access videos.
Organization(s): Southwest Telehealth Resource Center (STRC)