4 emerging trends in health IT education

Date: 05.15.2013 | Zach Urbina">Zach Urbina

1.  There are concerns about the ‘typical’ health IT education.

In early July, HIMSS introduced the Staffing and Health IT Adoption Infographic to our Facebook community, outlining the optimism for opportunities within health IT. We were met with comments and “likes” of hope within the jobs landscape. But we were also met with a fair amount of concerns that health IT professionals were not finding jobs after earning the necessary industry-certifications and education.

While this doesn’t necessarily mean the health IT and certification programs are broken, it does suggest that both should re-align with the growing needs of the industry. The fear, however, is that education, like the technology we often see used in healthcare, quickly becomes obsolete by the time students and professionals become fully acquainted with ever-evolving standards, technologies and industry best practices.

2.  It’s time health IT education gets a makeover.
The prognosis: Without more dynamic education, we could find that the frustration affects both emerging professionals, and the employers looking to hire in an already frustratingly short-staffed provider and clinical setting. Regardless of how these shortages will affect health IT professionals, the need for more holistic and dynamic health IT education will undoubtedly be essential to progressing the industry.

Chat participants said a more holistic health IT education would:

  • Provide students with the opportunity to balance their education with hands-on experience within the clinical, provider and health IT settings
  • Equip students and professionals with the necessary hard- and soft-skills to provide well-rounded solutions for the industry

“Because of the ever-changing landscape of healthcare and IT, students need to emerge from their course work with broad skill sets. Problem-solving abilities, critical-thinking skills and knowledge of change management will be crucial to their ability to continue to adapt and innovate as the profession moves forward,” commented Brenda Tyczkowski RN, DNP, Academic Director of Health Information Management Technology at the University of Wisconsin, Green Bay.

“A strong connection between theory (education) and practice will come when providers step forward to offer students the opportunity to engage in a meaningful practicum experience in a healthcare environment,” she added.

3.  Health IT education could benefit from volunteer work and health IT residencies.
While being a health IT rock star will land you some street cred among the technologists, industry know-how needs to be relevant enough to offer outcomes in the various settings information technologies are used in healthcare. In a recent Health IT job market article from Healthcare IT News, Del Johnston of MedZilla stated:

“When a company realizes they have a position to fill there is a certain amount of trepidation as with any long-term monetary investment. There is less room for error. Job seekers feel the anxiety not knowing which of their skills to emphasize and where to best market their abilities. The search becomes exhausting for everyone and can lead to careless decision making, then, of course, extending the process even further.”

Candidates who have a well-rounded background in health IT and its delivery settings can potentially take the guesswork out of the hiring process.

4.  Ideal health IT candidates need relevant hard and soft skills.
Like any good candidate filling a job role, a well-balanced and systemic understanding of the job function will win the day. That said, an apparent need for health IT professionals with a mix of project management, business-centered skills, financial analysis, in conjunction with the hard health IT job skills are all differentiators for incoming candidates.

Tyczkowski adds a note of optimism that such health IT education practices will mature:

“We are finding enthusiastic adults who have been employed in the health IT field, who seek a balance in their skills and abilities. They recognize that attaining additional education will bring with it a greater understanding of both the ‘hard’ IT skills and the ‘soft’ people skills that come with the management side of the health IT field.”

While the combination of the skill sets and educational opportunities seem atypical in the current health IT education landscape, I would suspect that the adoption of these practices will become more pervasive as their value becomes more apparent to health IT professionals and educators alike. via HiMSS blog

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