Last updated: November 23. 2013 8:48PM - 692 Views
Wylie Bell

From left, Richmond Community College students Wanda Smith, Thurman Davis and Kimyatta Moore learn the basics of computer networking.
From left, Richmond Community College students Wanda Smith, Thurman Davis and Kimyatta Moore learn the basics of computer networking.
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HAMLET — Computers touch nearly every aspect of modern life, which gives rise to many employment opportunities for someone skilled in information technology.

One sector that has indicated a growing need for skilled information technicians is healthcare. Richmond Community College has answered that need by creating an associate degree program in Healthcare Business Informatics.

“Our local hospitals indicated a need for a workforce to maintain networks, operate computer systems, design and administer databases, and ensure information security,” business instructor Lance Barber said.

Allen Wood, who works for the technical support staff of FirstHealth Richmond Memorial Hospital, sees firsthand the critical need for IT personnel to specialize in the healthcare field.

“The urgency is really ramped up in this setting,” said Wood, who worked in information technology for a public school district before coming to FirstHealth. “If a computer or a system goes down it can impact patient care.”

Students who enroll in the Healthcare Business Informatics program become familiar with medical terminology and get an overview of how hospitals work, preparing them for a career in the healthcare field from a technical standpoint. In addition to computer technology, the curriculum also includes medical law and ethics, medical terminology and medical insurance courses.

“It helps if people coming into the field have some familiarity with some healthcare specific computer applications. It also helps if they have some familiarity with healthcare terminology so that you speak a common language with the people that you work with,” Wood said. “Education that touches on healthcare specific IT will give someone a great advantage starting in this field.”

RCC graduate Jerrette McCrimmon took several classes in the Healthcare Business Informatics program in order to broaden his knowledge of computer systems and technology needs in different settings. He is completing a Bachelor of Interdisciplinary Studies in Applied Information Technology from the University of North Carolina-Pembroke.

“A hospital is a place that never closes, so you know there’s always going to be a need for technology,” McCrimmon said. “People’s lives are depending on it, so there’s always going to be a need for up-to-date technology and cutting edge technical services.”

Career opportunities include information systems security analyst, technology support technician, network administrator, network support specialist, help desk specialist, web administrator, software developer, database administrator and healthcare systems analyst.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, a greater reliance on computer systems in organizations throughout the economy has led to an increased demand for IT personnel and positions them for fast-growing, high-paying IT jobs.

RCC will hold its final registration session for new students to sign up for classes for the spring semester on Dec. 4. For information, visit www.richmondcc.edu or call 910-410-1730.

Wylie Bell works as assistant communications director for Richmond Community College.

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