Students at Madison Area Technical College will be able to receive free high-tech medical training due to a federal grant they received that will start this fall semester.

MATC will receive approximately $760,000 from the federal government, according to a statement from MATC.

This money will be used to train students to help install and maintain electronic medical records in hospitals and clinics across the state.

Part of the federal grant money will go toward covering the cost of students’ tuition that are enrolled in the program, said David Shonkwiler, dean of agriculture, engineering and business and applied technology schools at MATC.

Shonkwiler added the program will have to cover material quickly to meet the federal deadlines for training workers.

Because of this time crunch, Shonkwiler said they will only be accepting applications from people who already have some medical or information technology experience.

“We do not have the time to bring in someone who has been laid off and have them trained in time,” Shonkwiler said. “Applicants must have a healthcare or information technology background.”

The grant money is a part of a wider government initiative to fulfill the federal HITECH Act.

This legislation states everyone in the country must have an electronic record by 2014.

The government is spending hundreds of millions of dollars to try and update the country’s medical records, Shonkwiler said.

He added that many larger hospitals have already converted over to electronic records, but a majority of smaller clinics and hospitals in rural areas in the state have not.

Even though the money for the training classes is in place and MATC is accepting applications, they are not sure yet what they will be teaching or who will be teaching it.

Shonkwiler said an outside company is preparing the curriculum for the courses, and they have only been sent the first half of the lectures.

He added they should receive the second half by October.

MATC is also currently searching for a permanent faculty member and several temporary professors to teach the class and they have not yet filled all of the positions.