Cyber Secure?

Today we not only use the internet to stay connected, informed and involved but we rely on it for our day-to-day needs. The nation relies on it for filing taxes, applying for student loans, even watching traffic. It is hard to imagine life without it. With all of this brings an increased chance of crimes.  That is why the Department of Homeland Security labels cyber security one of our county’s most important national security priorities. In addition, Congress created the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Cybersecurity and Communications in 2006. The government has released a statement that they lack some 20,000 or 30,000 people with the needed skills to defend cyberspace and that the national average starting salary for this position is $70,000.

We value being connected — always — and trusting the work of others in this highly technical field is necessary.

Lansing Community College has recognized the need for highly skilled Information Security professionals. To that end, we are proud to be bringing Peter T. Davis, noted expert in this field, to our campus. Hope you can join us January 23-25 for an informative training experience that will help you develop an effective plan for your business.


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Community Colleges, the unsung heroes of our nation’s education system…

In October 2010, the Obama administration held a summit on colleges at which President Obama called community colleges the “unsung heroes” of our nation’s education system. With the increase of jobs requiring technical certificates or Associate’s degrees, he said, “….we will not keep these jobs – or keep them on our shores – without community colleges.” It is validating to hear from our nation’s leader the importance of community colleges.

I work with one such community college program with great pride. E-Pathways has the goal of filling local IT workforce needs. Individuals who are unemployed or underemployed can get the education they need at no cost in order to gain new skills and fit into the local workforce. The students in E-Pathways are an impressive group. They are intelligent, driven, and highly motivated to be successful. It is without a doubt a large undertaking to commit to a new 1, 2, or 4-year academic program and it speaks highly of our participants who have done so.

Our students come from diverse backgrounds including coming from work experience in healthcare, business administration, education, non-profits, telecommunications, and truck-driving. Early in the program we are already seeing success with students gaining new employment and internships – experiences that we hope assist them in landing more permanent positions. I look forward to continuing on as a Student Coach with E-Pathways and seeing what future successes come next.

–Sarah Linz
Program Coordinator: Health Information Technology
Progam Coach: E-Pathways
Lansing Community College


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National Health IT Training Initiative

I periodically scanned some posts on a LinkedIn group focusing on the new HIT Workforce Training programs funded by the ONC. Generally, the comments remain critical of the design and assumptions of the program. As I am an instructor at one of the community colleges delivering this program, I was struck by how different some of the programs appear to be.

A noted real Achilles-heel to the program is its short duration. While the hours required (classroom time plus readings, plus on-line events, and test taking) is rather substantial, the broad array of material means that the graduates will not have great depth on the topics. HOWEVER, I think all of us must get a bit more realistic about the competency levels that should be expected of the new entrants into the HIT field. Healthcare has always been rather demanding over the depth of background it expects of its entrants into the field. For instance, I challenge anyone to find any HIT job posting where the minimum experience level required was less than 3-5 years! Furthermore, HIT staffing has generally had the luxury of acquiring healthcare-experienced staffing from the served departments or ancillaries within the hospital.
And where has an HIT department gone to find people with that initial experience?? Frequently, it was to vendor or contract personnel that were ready to give up the road. But, lately, their current book of business now puts greater pressure on them to retain their staff.
As I see it, the rapid escalation of demands for HIT resources that we can foresee for the next 3-5 years means that (1) we need to accept that new hires will have lower levels of healthcare experience, and (2) that OJT, combined with more rigorous levels of immediate supervision, is essential to succeed in the coming years.
The ONC-funded workforce training is going to produce a wave of individuals who have a good grounding in how healthcare operates, how HIT is being harnessed (and why) in such places as hospitals and ambulatory practices. They will also have a good starting knowledge base on such things as project management, or work process (especially clinical) engineering, or technical support services, or user training.
If the Lansing, Michigan HIT Workforce Program is typical, I can also tell you that many of these students are individuals with considerable workplace experience and evident excitement at the prospect of becoming part of their local healthcare delivery system and making HIT projects happen.
The remaining challenge is to plug these high-potential resources into jobs that will both challenge them AND provide them with the kind of resources and guidance that can assure everyone’s success.
I witnessed the remarkable ramping up of non-IT background resources into effective entry-level HIT resources for Y2K software remediation and client-server applications during the late 1990’s. The parallels for the current HIT industry are substantial. If we are not prepared to launch similar efforts within our respective healthcare entities, we face the real prospect of failing to meet the urgent needs of our clinical colleagues. Comments anyone?

Hank Mayers

Health IT Instructor

Lansing Community College

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