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Health IT graduate certificates help students stand out in job search

Samantha Yeh
June 2, 2012

Filling a void in health care

The new graduate certificates at SUNY Oswego in integrated health systems and health information technology were created to fill a void in healthcare right now, and set SUNY Oswego graduate students apart in the job search.

“In this economy, the things that are still performing well are health and certain branches of information technology,” said Damian Schofield, director of the human-computer interaction program and coordinator of the certificate programs.  

David Vampola, director of the center for communication and information technology, recognized the need for these programs after meeting with local healthcare industries across central and northern New York, including SUNY Upstate, MedTech, the Veteran’s Health Association and Welch Allyn.

“The people at Welch Allyn were talking about the problems they were encountering that involved more than a technical fix,” Vampola said. “They needed people who understood the organizational structure and social relationships within a healthcare institution.”

Digitizing records

As healthcare organizations move from paper-based systems to digitized records, there is a need for employees who understand both health and changing media. The integrated health systems certificate was built around that need.

“The IHS program is an interdisciplinary program which is not offered at very many universities,” Vampola said. “There’s only a handful that offer program study like ours in the U.S.”

The HIT certificate was created as healthcare organizations need employees who understand the databases health professionals use on a daily basis, as well as be able to understand and implement the latest technology in their own institutions.

“Health industries are now putting their medical information on tablets or mobile devices,” Schofield said. “Doctors want to view information on their tablets as they move through hospitals, everything we use study and develop in the field of HCI is becoming more and more applicable.”

“In this economy, the things that are still performing well are health and certain branches of information technology.”
Dr. Damian Schofield
Director, Human-Computer Interaction, SUNY Oswego

The new graduate certificates can easily tie into the HCI master’s degree program, which is about the societal use of technology. The IHS and HIT graduate certificates tie in with that, Schofield said.

“It becomes very attractive to HCI students because they can earn the graduate certificates just for taking an extra class, which can usually be counted as an elective towards their master’s degree,” Schofield said.

Geared towards professionals

The certificates are also ideal options for professionals already working in healthcare.

“There’s a demand for people already working in health industries who want to be promoted,” Schofield said. “They need that extra level of knowledge in health information technology so they can progress in their careers.”

“People in the health industry will be able to come in and just take one course because that’s what they need for their work environment,” Vampola said.

In addition to being offered at SUNY Oswego’s main campus, the graduate certificates are also offered online and SUNY Oswego’s Metro Center to accommodate interested applicants who are already working.

“We’re offering more and more courses online so that people outside, such as people already in the industry, can take advantage of this opportunity,” Schofield said.

Although the certificates only came out a few months ago, they are already attracting students.

“A number of students were already interested in these certificates, so they took the courses in advance,” Schofield said.

“There are people already signed up in the fall who are registering for the HCI master’s but working on the certificate already, just by hearing about it through word of mouth,” Vampola said.

Those graduate students have found the certificate has impacted their job search.

“One of our recent graduates in HCI had his [resume] on and decided to pick up the HIT certificate,” Schofield said. “As soon as he included health information technology, he got twice as much interest from employers. It’s like a magic word.”

Graduates with these certificates can look for jobs in health information management, health systems administration, web developers, database management, health systems engineers and more.

For more information on SUNY Oswego Graduate Studies’ new healthcare certificates, visit the programs page.

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