Job Seekers: Health IT is Hiring, Expensive Degree Not Needed

Job hunters outnumber available jobs by more than four to one. With almost 14 million Americans out of work, workforce development has become a key priority and a political liability. President Barack Obama’s allies have started calling for new government initiatives to boost employment, but where are the jobs? The best way to answer this question is to look toward emerging fields, specifically the healthcare sector where a two-year degree can get any trained individual a coveted position.

Jobs within health services have the highest number of openings, requiring a vocational education rather than a four-year liberal arts degree. The days of highbrow education are not over, but the price of an elite education does not seem to correspond to graduates’ unemployment levels. It seems evident that a two-year au courant degree at a local community college is a better, far cheaper way to get a superior paying job in today’s sluggish economy.

The myth that a four-year degree is the only road to success has recently been debunked by the growing health IT sector. The enactment of Congress’ Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act has imparted resources to this emergent field in hopes of making our health system more technologically advanced. As the investment grows and prospers, positions for those without medical degrees become more crucial and necessary. Community colleges are answering the call for the training and education of this growing professional domain. A two-year degree from a specialized health IT program can get a student or a mid-career employee a better-paying job cheaper and faster than a four-year institution.

Graduates from community colleges are harnessing their education toward viable employment. Health IT professionals have become more crucial to health services than ever before and are being hired at an increasingly rapid rate. Physician offices, electronic health record (EHR) companies, government, and consulting need recent graduates to impart their knowledge in this growing and changing field.

Not only will healthcare jobs become more common and graduates become in higher demand, but the government is also investing in the infrastructure and education of these new roles. The federal government added $32 million this year to a community college program already at $36 million. It has also “estimated a need for 50,000 more skilled health IT workers to help providers over the hurdles to establish and maintain EHRs.” Community colleges are answering this need by creating programs based around the career roles of software specialists, implementation support, and practice workflow redesign specialists.

If the expanding field of health IT coupled with government expenditure is not incentive enough to turn to vocational training, then the growing state cuts to higher education will make any student pause to think about their next steps. Most state colleges will likely see financial aid cuts and tuition hikes. As the protests of recent budget cuts have evidenced, the future is looking glum for those wishing to obtain a higher degree.

As massive debt looms over students, compiled with a bleak job landscape, the path toward community college and health IT are looking all the more rosy. A two-year education in health IT at a local community college might just be the antidote to combat our nation’s employment woes.

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

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Elizabeth Elfman

Elizabeth is currently exploring health policy directly related to the expanding field of health technology. Through her work she is able to assess healthcare at both the national and federal level. Her political interests also include women's rights and international diplomacy. She is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, where she obtained a degree in political science and communication public service. She has been published in Boston Magazine and the Philadelphia Daily News.

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