Expand Knowledge of Health IT or Launch a New Career through UC Denver

Date: September 14th, 2011Category: CORHIO e-NewsletterTopics: Health IT

Scholarships Are Currently Available for Certification Programs, or Health Care Professionals Can Take One or Two Health IT Courses As Needed

As electronic health record (EHR) ‘Meaningful Use’ incentives roll out, and as physician offices, hospitals and other providers begin to form accountable care organizations (ACOs), there has been a rush for providers to “go electronic.” This has created a high demand for knowledgeable health IT professionals—and for clinicians with deeper IT skills—who can meet the challenges of implementing and maintaining EHR systems.

Health care professionals who are interested in launching a new career that requires more IT expertise or that would like to be more effective in their current position, can enroll in the University of Colorado Denver’s Health Information Technology Education Collaborative (HITEC). Participants can earn certification in health care informatics and health information management/health information exchange. Each certificate program is one-year in length and requires five three-credit courses.  Scholarships are availbale for qualified professionals pursuing certification.

For health care professionals who want to sharpen their IT or EHR skills, but do not have the time to pursue certification, there are also opportunities to take just one or two courses on specific topics.

“The coursework is organized to fulfill a type of role an individual would like to achieve in their organization or a type of career they would like to pursue, such as a chief nursing informatics officer or a chief medical information officer,” said Donna Dulong, the Informatics Business Liaison for the Colorado Health Information Technology Education Collaborative (HITEC) Program, at the University of Denver Colorado (UC Denver).

Federal Grants Help UC Denver Offer Scholarships

UC Denver is a recipient of the University-Based Training Grants from the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC). The funding is part of their Health IT Workforce Development Program that aims to rapidly expand the workforce to adopt Meaningful Use of EHRs. Each year, UC Denver offers tuition scholarships for 50 students in its graduate certificate program and 12 students in its master of science in health care informatics (MS) program.  There are currently 40 available scholarships for qualified professionals.

Program Enables Physician Assistant to Launch New Career

Sherri Stuart, a scholarship recipient, says the HITEC program at UC Denver has transformed her life. After a 30-year career as a physician’s assistant, she was incredibly frustrated with her organization’s EHR system. “The IT department told me the EHR would make my life easier, but it was an overwhelming task to navigate a new system while trying to give my patients the care they needed,” said Stuart. “Unfortunately, many community-based health care organizations don’t have the time or resources to invest in training their employees to use an EHR from a clinical perspective.”

Through the Colorado Regional Extension Center (CO-REC), Stuart found out about UC Denver’s HITEC Program and she enrolled in the Clinical Leader Executive Certificate Program last January. After one semester of classes, Stuart changed careers and was hired as the clinical manager of Milestone Medical Group, part of Longmont United Hospital, where she manages the clinical applications and workflow of four outpatient hospital clinics’ EHR implementation.

“The time and effort put into earning my certification has more than paid for itself,” said Stuart. “There is more to an EHR system than just bringing it live. I now have the knowledge to use an EHR at an optimal clinical level and can pull data for quality reports and improve the outcomes of patient populations.”

Expanding Knowledge of Health IT With One or Two Courses

Individuals who would like to enroll in one or two courses to suit their current HIT needs can do so through open enrollment. Diane Skiba, project director for the University-Based Training program explains, “We have a lot of students that come in and want to take a course or two. They may know how to use the MEDITCH system or Allscripts, but now their responsibilities are expanding and they want to come back and get an overview of health care informatics, or they may want to take a course about standards and regulatory issues.”

To learn more about requirements and courses available at the HITEC program at UC Denver, visit the university's Health Care Informatics Program website or call 303-724-5515.