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$181,351 Goes To OCC's Health Information Technology Program

Grant looks to train and upgrade residents' skills to fill employment gaps

Ocean County College (OCC) has received a one-year extension to its Health Information Technology Grant in the amount of $181,351 – the grant award now totals $611,821. 

The Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act of 2009 set forth a plan for advancing the appropriate use of health information technology to improve quality of care for each individual in the United States. As part of this program, OCC initially received a two-year grant to train individuals and upgrade their skills to fill the employment gaps in this area.

Over the past two years, OCC has been helping prepare IT and health-care technicians through its grant program, which prepares individuals to support IT in public health settings.  According to Deborah Robinson, director of Continuing and Professional Education and Grants at OCC, the program meets a growing state and national need.

“Electronic health records skills are required for new entry-level health-care jobs. Individuals who were trained years ago and have been working in the field now need to upgrade their skills.  Ocean County College is providing the education that working professionals in IT and health-care need in order to remain competitive in today’s workforce,” explained Robinson.

During years one and two, the grant enabled OCC’s Department of Continuing and Professional Education to develop and implement a non-credit, six-month, health information technology training program that awards an Electronic Health Record Certificate.  It provides both the opportunity to sit for a National Health Career Association Certificate examination and the requirements necessary to enter a job providing electronic health records and billing support.

“At the end of year two, 173 students were enrolled in the program; far exceeding our original goal of 94.  Of the 173 enrollees, 129 or 75 percent have graduated.  The additional funding for year three, in the amount of $181,351, will enable Ocean County College to offer scholarships to 95 new students.  The goal for this program is to be self-sustaining at Ocean County College and continue without grant funding after this third year,” Robinson added.

In year three of the grant, students who previously completed OCC’s certificate program and then passed the national Certified Electronic Health Records Specialist exam, as well as other students who have the required requisites, i.e. nurses, can complete the new Health Information Management Certificate by completing courses in health-care information, management, ethics, and H.I.P.P.A. (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act).  

According to Kathy Caro, administrator of Nursing and Allied Health at OCC, expanding OCC’s program will help meet the job skill needs as more emphasis is placed on the supervisory and management aspects of the job.  “Students in year three will learn how to manipulate and use the data captured in the electronic health record.  There will also be emphasis on the legal aspects of the health record, including health information and H.I.P.P.A.,” she said.

Both health-care and information technology technicians and professionals are encouraged to apply to the H.I.T. program.  Currently, students from New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, and Pennsylvania are participating in the program. 

For additional information, or to apply, contact Project Coordinator John Knight in the OCC Department of Continuing and Professional Education’s Healthcare Information Technology Grant Office, at 732-255-0511, or visit www.ocean.edu/HIT.

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