Jeff Draper has always been intrigued by technology. Sometimes, it got him in trouble, like when at age 10 he took the family television apart. Other times, like more recently, it helped him get a job. Draper recently completed the certificate program for Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH).
Draper said he has always loved “discovering how things worked.” He still remembers the first moment he saw a personal computer. It was at Radio Shack (a favorite hangout of his) a few years after the TV-disassembling incident. There, on the display shelf, was his future.
“The sales guy said not to touch it,” Draper said. “And since then, I’ve learned everything about them.”
He completed a bachelor’s degree in computer science at Friends University and entered the workforce. He started by generating business for technology companies. His career path then took him to selling, and tactical marketing for a pharmaceutical company, but then the economy turned south in 2008, and his job completely disappeared in 2010.
“I searched for work for two years and was unable to find it,” Draper said. “I was looking for something stable, and that took me down the road to health care.”
When he heard about the HITECH program, he knew his background in computer technology and pharmaceuticals made him a promising candidate for the HITECH program.
“The class was transformational for me,” he said. “It provided me with a lot of insight into the challenges now facing health care. I learned a lot from the instructors who came from various hospitals in the community, or leading software companies in the area. They all shed different perspectives on the industry, and after the class, I had a clearer picture of how I could fit into that industry.”
The HITECH program is in response to the HITECH Act of 2009, which mandates that every U.S. citizen have an electronic health record by 2014. That mandate has caused a demand for qualified technicians with a background in health care.
The program began at JCCC in September 2010 with a pilot class of 20 students and two types of certificates. HITECH now offers four types of certificates, thanks to a grant from the U.S. Department of Labor.
Draper landed a job four months into his HITECH class – even before he finished the program and earned his HIT Pro certification. He works as an informatics technologist at a public health agency. He provides system design, planning, development, testing, implementation, end user training, and technical help for the electronic medical record systems used by doctors, nurses and other medical staff of a clinic.
“Physicians just want to provide quality care to patients. They don’t necessarily want to work with the technology, but they have to [maintain mandated electronic medical records],” he said. “I am able to show them how to work with the technology to make their jobs easier and so they can see more patients without sacrificing quality care.”
He said his enrollment in HITECH gave him more confidence in interviewing for work.
“When I began interviewing, I let them know I was in the HITECH program, and I would share with them why being in the HITECH program would make me a more valuable employee,” Draper said.
“They recognized the challenges that were discussed in our class come from real-life experiences, and I was able to discuss those experiences. It made an immediate connection with the employer, and it added a lot of credibility. And so they offered me the job.”
For more information about the HITECH program, email Nellie Schuckman or call her at 913-469-8500, ext. 4928.