The act establishes the Colorado rural health-care workforce initiative (initiative) to expand the number of health-care professionals practicing in Colorado's rural or frontier counties. As part of the initiative, an institution of higher education (institution) is authorized to establish and operate a health-care professionals rural track within any health-care professional education program offered by the institution.
A rural track must set aside seats in its health-care professional education program for students who express an interest in studying and working in a rural or frontier county, offer didactic curriculum related to practicing the health-care discipline in rural or frontier counties, place students in rural or frontier counties for hands-on instruction and training, and award scholarships to students in the rural track. In order to receive a scholarship, a student must commit to working as a health-care professional in a rural or frontier county for 2 years after completing education and training.
The rural office at the university of Colorado's school of medicine (rural program office) provides technical assistance to the institutions operating a rural track regarding recruiting and admitting students committed to working in rural areas and identifying rural or frontier counties in which students may be placed for clinical training. The rural program office also facilitates, arranges, or advises an institution about arranging housing for students placed in a rural or frontier county. The rural program office must provide, without charge, to institutions operating a rural track, didactic curriculum related to practicing in rural or frontier counties. The act requires the rural program office to annually evaluate the effectiveness of the initiative and report to the general assembly's education committees about the initiative.
The act requires the department of higher education (department) to enter into limited purpose fee-for-service contracts to provide funding for the rural program office to carry out its duties related to the initiative. The department is also required to enter into limited purpose fee-for-service contracts with institution governing boards to operate a rural track in programs specified in the act. The department is required to allocate money to Colorado mountain college to establish a rural track in its nursing program.
The act appropriates $1,200,000 to the department from the general fund for fee-for-service contracts and allocations for the initiative.
(Note: This summary applies to this bill as enacted.)