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Three RLC Allied Health students named IRHA scholars

Three outstanding Rend Lake College students are being rewarded for their hard work and dedication to the local area with scholarships this spring through the Illinois Rural Health Association (IRHA).

Sarah Davis of Broughton, Brittney Pettit of Benton, and Jera Sloat of Bonnie were each awarded scholarships to help them complete RLC’s Health Information Technology (HIT) or Medical Coding programs, which are two of the fastest growing occupations across the country, according to the U. S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics.


Sarah Davis

Brittney Pettit

Jera Sloat

Because of this growing demand, and an on-going shortage of health professionals in rural areas, the IRHA awarded $12,000 this spring to deserving students enrolled in these programs who also expressed an interest and intent to work in a rural setting.

Davis, an HIT student, said the rural setting is exactly the place for her future. After continuing her education at Southern Illinois University Carbondale in Health Care Management, she plans to find full-time employment at a local hospital.

“Growing up in a rural area, I see the need for improved health care in rural hospitals. Quality health care needs improved in rural areas because many of those who live in rural areas struggle economically and cannot afford to travel to larger hospitals,” said Davis. “Hospitals in larger areas have more services because they have more money which pays for services.”

She continued, “That being said, smaller hospitals have to be more creative in finding ways to offer better treatment and more specialty-driven services. I would like to be part of improving rural health care by creating needed programs to bring to our rural hospitals and recruiting personnel to help do so.”

Pettit echoed her words, saying she didn’t see herself working anywhere other than in small, local hospitals. The medical coding student currently works as a radiologic technician and plans to graduate in May of 2019.

“Things are easier in bigger hospitals. I’m a radiology technician now, so I know how things work in the smaller hospitals. I deal with people a lot in my area, and it feels nice to help them out. I don’t have plans to leave the area,” said Pettit.

In the future, Pettit said the idea of working from home as a medical coder seems like something she’d be interested in, but until then, she wants to stay in the smaller hospitals.

Though she agreed with her classmates, Sloat said she has slightly more complicated plans for the future. The HIT student is also taking courses in medical coding and has plans to take her credential examination for coding this May. With graduation set for 2019, she plans to work part-time as a medical coder to finish school and get experience as a health information technician.

“My plan is to stay around this area, but my plans are a little different than most. My long-term goal is to set up a non-profit in a rural area to help with health information,” said Sloat.

She explained that, having a son with a disability, health care information was extremely difficult to find in the local area. In fact, she had to look over 1,000 miles away to find answers for her family.

“I had to research for a long time before I finally found a hospital in Boston who had information we needed. There were a lot of things we missed along the way, but it’s all I had,” Sloat explained. “My ultimate goal is to get more information out there in rural communities, so other parents don’t have the same troubles I had.”

Davis, Pettit and Sloat are three of 12 students in Illinois to receive IRHA scholarships this spring. The IRHA is a collaborative association whose mission is to strengthen health systems for rural residents and communities through advocacy, education, networking, and leadership. To learn more about the IRHA, visit

To learn more about RLC’s HIT and Medical Coding programs, contact RLC’s Allied Health Division at 618-437-5321, Ext. 1251 or [email protected].