By Jul DeGeus
“Let me check your records.” A phrase many of us hear when visiting the doctor’s office. But who manages these records? Who makes sure that our medical information is up to date and accurate?
That is part of the job of a Health Information Technician. We sat down with Amanda Carter, Centura College’s Health Information Technology Coordinator for the Chesapeake campus, to find out a little bit more about what it means to be a Health Information Technician:
What made you decide to become a Health Information Technician?
I decided to become a Health Information Technician after I worked in the medical field as a medical assistant for about two years. The job market was constantly changing, so I decided to branch out. It made sense for me to do it because the health care industry was growing larger. Gaining more experience opened up additional opportunities for me to advance my career and to educate people about the ever changing costs of health care.
What advice would you give those considering a career in Health Information Technology?
The advice that I would give those considering a career in Health Information Technology is that even though you don’t have a lot of ‘facetime’ with patients, you are truly making a positive difference in their lives. Health care costs and expenses can be one of the most stressful triggers for patients and their families. As a Health Information Technician you get the chance to help alleviate that stress.
What study aids did you use during your education?
It’s cliché, but my training reinforced that practice makes perfect. I constantly coded scenarios and corrected error reports just to try and trick myself. It helped me to be confident and also taught me to fix interesting and dynamic health care scenarios. It reassured me and gave me positive outlook for my career in the health care field.
What is your proudest moment as a Health Information Technician?
My proudest moment as a Health Information Technician was when I helped an elderly lady with her husband’s seemingly never-ending health care expenses. She was constantly confused and overwhelmed by her billing statements. I knew she needed help understanding them and I offered to explain them to her in a way that made sense. After I took the time to go over them with her, you could hear the excitement in her voice; she finally fully knew what was going on with her bills and was ecstatic. Just hearing her excitement over the phone gave me so much joy. As if that wasn’t enough, she even made it a point visit the office just to thank me in person with homemade chocolate chip cookies. It was the BEST DAY EVER!
By Robb Rajnys and Jul DeGeus
With great technological advances, comes great technological responsibilities; like protecting your personal information.
Thanks to the progress of technology, we are living in an age where you can accomplish almost anything with a swipe of a finger. Track your fitness, manage your bank account or even supervise your lights and lock systems at your home remotely; that is, as long as you have a Wi-Fi connection and a charged smart phone. But like all great things, technology comes with a downfall: cyberattacks.
There severity of a cyberattack is only limited to the imagination of the person who creates the virus. Familiarize yourself with common terms and proactive prevention to ensure the safety of your personal information:
Malware: In Latin, “mal” means “bad,” it’s no surprise that malware is the general term for malicious threats, like Trojans or worms, that try to steal and destroy data.
Malvertising: Keeping in mind that the Latin root of “malware”, malvertising is an ad that has been infected with malware. When you click on the ad, whatever was effect the cyberattacker loaded in the coding of the ad is downloaded on your computer.
Password Attacks: Probably the most obviously attack term, password attacks occur when a hacker tries to steal your password for information. Cyber thieves can use a program to access your passwords, or even resort to old fashioned ways: peering over your shoulder to see your smart phone screen as you type in the pin to your debit card.
Phishing: Another term many people are familiar with is “phishing.” This attack targets your email accounts. The attacker sets up a company and requests personal information or provides a link to click on. The website’s information you’re directed to aligns with the information you received in the email, sometimes creating a false sense of security and legitimacy. As soon as you input your information, the hackers can use it as they see fit.
Ransomware: In a nut shell, Ransomware is a virus that will lock you out of all your data- documents, photos, contacts, etc. – until you pay a fee. If you chose not to pay the fee, you’ll have to wipe your whole computer in order to use it, losing all of your data anyway.
Thwarting the Attacks
Never fear, prevention is out there! To counter the above hazards, ensure you install and adhere to the following:
Firewalls: This is a virtual gate, if you will, that can prevent or allow certain traffic from leaving or gaining access to your PC. To increase effectiveness, the firewall should stay turned on, especially if you are connected to the internet.
Antivirus Software with Ransomware Protection: Invest in a good antivirus software that includes a ransomware protection plan; good meaning that you should pay for it. Most free antivirus protection software only monitors issues and then alert you, not take care of the problem. Purchasing antivirus software provides monitoring and proactive protection.
Keep Your PC Up to Date: Most users do not maintain their updates. Updates are important because they’re purpose is to help keep your computer safe. Every time a new malware is developed or and old one is updated, programmers hastily work to develop and push out an update to their consumers to counteract its effects, keeping your information all the more protected.
Email: Everyone on the planet has an email now a days. 91% of cyberattacks stem from email. Be wary of emails you receive that:
- Request passwords
- Request your Social Security Number
- Offer anything “free”
- Alert you with an “urgent” warning or threat of an expiration of an account
- Request credit card information
Everywhere you go on the internet leaves “footprints;” where you shop, where you bank, what you may want to buy, etc. Malware picks up on your “footprints” and tries to trick you by creating emails and pop-up advertisements that are catered to your internet browsing, searching and buying habits. If something look suspect, treat it as such. However, if you land on a website you’re not so sure about or regret downloading a file, there are handy websites to scan files or sites in question.
File Storage: Backup your computer and all data regularly to ensure its safety. Use a secure file housing website, software, or simply copy important folders and files to a USB disk regularly. This minimizes the impact, headaches and helps to avoid having pay a ransomware to get your vital documents.
By Jul DeGeus
Some might argue that professionalism is one of the keys to success in the business world. Knowing the rules of business etiquette can set you apart from other employees, but one of the most commonly abused etiquette rules is the use of cell phones. While you should refer to your company’s rules and regulations for instruction regarding cell phone usage, these are some best practices:
Cellphone Volume and Ringer/ Ringtone
There’s nothing worse than sitting at your cubicle, working on a report in a silent office and having your phone ring. Anxiously, you bustle around through your personal items, quickly trying to hush it. You apologize for disturbing everyone and, red-faced, you get back to work hoping you won’t be made fun of later for your choice of ringtone. Two main rules of etiquette can be learned in this situation:
- Always remember to silence your phone- Make turning your phone to “silent mode” part of your morning routine to save you some shame. Breakfast, shower, brush your teeth, check your phone, grab coffee and head to work.
- Pick a professional ring/text tone- While you might know all the words to “Baby Got Back,” and even have a choreographed dance paired with it for special occasions, your ringtone reflects your professionalism. Keep it generic to keep it professional.
Also keep in mind that setting your phone to “vibrate” is not the same as “silencing” your phone. While it is harder for some to pick up the sounds, vibrations are audible, especially if sitting on a tabletop surface.
When and Where to Use Your Cell
Lunch time is the perfect time to take or make personal calls. Most lunches are “off the clock” which is the ideal time to make your calls. Just be aware of your surroundings and understand that in a cafeteria or restaurant setting, others have the opportunity to hear part or all of your conversation. A personal or secluded space, such as your car, will allow for more privacy.
Most companies allow you to use your phone on break, but take into consideration how long you use your phone. Generally, breaks are 15 minutes. If you exceed this time, it is likely that your boss will notice and could result in discipline.
It’s not the best idea to use your phone when in your cubicle. A neighbor can pop their head over the separator and gaze your screen or overhear a chat you are having. Additionally, you do not want to interrupt your peers’ concentration by carrying out a loud, disruptive dialogue.
People often use restrooms to have conversation on their phone. While this seems private, voices can carry through the buildings ventilation system. Not to mention, if your office shares a single or limited number of stalls, you could be holding up someone who needs to use the restroom.
There’s always an exception to the rule and when it comes to cell phones, emergencies are the exception. If there is some sort of emergency that causes your phone to ‘blow up,’ communicate this with your boss so they are aware of why you are on your phone.
Say you are in a meeting and someone vaguely refers to information you know you have access to via your cell phone. In situations like this, it’s ok to use your phone to access the information, so long as you announce that that is what you are doing. Something as simple as, “I’ll get those exact numbers for you,” or, “I have that email, let me pull it up,” will let everyone in the meeting know you are using your phone to enhance the meeting, rather than ignore it.
When interacting with people, give them your full attention. Try not to use your phone as a timepiece and avoid your smart watch; if you spend too much time looking at your smart watch, people will assume you are checking a text message and ignoring them. Finally, as sneaky as you may be, don’t read text messages under the table, behind a coffee cup or in back of portfolio or clip board.
By Esperanza Poquiz
Some of us find interviews a little nerve-racking while others may be cool, calm and collected. Preparing for the interview process can ease stress. Whether you are a pro or amateur, keep these tips in the forefront of your mind when going to your next interview.
We’ve all heard that making a great first impression is important. A survey showed that 66 out of 2,000 hiring managers knew in 90 seconds if they would hire the job candidate. Ensure that your appearance gives the hiring manager a great first impression by:
- Having a firm handshake and great posture
- Wearing more neutral colors like: black, gray, navy blue and white
- Communicating with proper vocabulary and grammar
Having confidence in yourself definitely shows in an interview. Emitting confidence lets the hiring manager see that you know what you want and you take initiative. Radiate confidence through:
- Voice projection; don’t mumble
- Eye contact
- Body language: don’t fidget, play with your hair, touch your face or cross your hands over your chest
- Hand gestures, but keep them to a minimum
- Enthusiasm; Let your personality shine and show warmth
Know Who You Applied For
Before going in your interview be sure to do the following:
- Research the company and get general information
- Have a specific position in mind and learn the requirements of the position you seek
- Come prepared with questions based on the company
- Know the company’s mission statement and what is important to them
- Have a generic answer about why you lost or left your last job
- Don’t put down previous positions, employers or peers
- Don’t focus on pay, schedule or benefits in the initial interview
- Ask relevant questions
Be sure to keep these suggestions in mind for you next interview. You can also ask family and friends for help through mock interviews. Good luck!
By Jul DeGeus
The job search process can be excruciatingly overwhelming. It’s easy to find yourself stressing out over things like creating a flawless resume and preparing the perfect answers to interview questions.
But for most job hunters, one career prep subject seems to fly under the radar: business etiquette. There’s actually a week, June 5-11th, just to try to draw attention to those who are unaware.
Knowing and practicing proper business etiquette could be a determining factor in the hiring process. It might be hard for a company to choose between two candidates that have similar qualifications. Unless, of course, one of the contenders has displayed the mastery of the art of business etiquette. So, grasshopper, here are some skill sets to set you apart from the rest:
Make the Introduction
Sheryl Stevens giving tips and tricks to Centura Chesapeake students.
Career Services Coordinator at our Centura Chesapeake campus, Sheryl Stevens, knows the importance of first impressions in the business world. Stevens, who holds regular workshops to prepare Centura College students for their future career, firmly believes in the 7/11 theory:
Within the first seven seconds that someone meets you, they make 11 decisions about you. How was your hand shake? Are you maintaining eye contact? This tells employers about your confidence. Are you smiling? Are you dressed well? This lets people know if you are approachable and presentable. Every person’s 11 decisions are different, but you want to make sure that you are presenting your best to ensure that employers’ decisions about you are positive.
To have a successful introduction and obtain a positive first impression in seven seconds, come up with and rehearse a simple introduction. After a salutation, include your first and last name, smile while making eye contact and shake hands. A professional handshake should be firm, leaving no space between the webs of the shaker’s thumbs. When leaving, don’t be afraid to mention your full name one more time to remind the employer of who you are.
A slice of advice: When you are established in the workplace and there is a new person in the office or are with a friend and someone approaches you, always make an introduction. It is better to introduce people who have already met before than to hold a conversation with one person and ignore the other.
Mind Your TechNOlogy
The technological advances we have made over the past 20 years are astounding. The ease of accessing important information simply by using a smart phone has quicken the pace of the world. But when it comes to using technology in a business setting, it is important to remember that there are some restrictions.
When entering a meeting or interview, turn off or leave unnecessary electronics elsewhere. Be careful about using tablets, smart watches and laptops in appointments, as they can give off the perception that you are not paying attention. Once employed, read up on the rules and regulations regarding personal devices to makes sure you adhering to company policies.
Keep Communication Flowing
Maybe you’ve got really exciting news. Or maybe the person you are talking to has sparked a brilliant, life-changing idea. Perhaps the information that you are hearing is incorrect. Regardless of what the reason is, resist the urge to butt in when someone is speaking. Simply wait for them to finish, then add your input to the conversation. If, for urgent reasons, you have to interrupt, politely interject with “excuse me.”
Likewise, if there is a meeting or Q & A session at work, make sure that you are not talking so much that others cannot get a word in. Also try to talk about or ask things that everyone in the meeting will benefit from. Specific questions that deal directly with you or only a small section of the group meeting should be asked individually or if there is extra time.
PROOF READ, PROOF READ, PROOF READ
There’s nothing worse than putting “atention to detail” on a resume, sending it out and never hearing back from employers. What went wrong? You are so qualified! Well, having a tiny mistake, such as misspelling “attention”, could cost you a callback. Avoid these errors by having multiple people look over your resumes, cover letters, emails, etc. before sending them out. It’s always nice to have a fresh sets of eyes!
Watch Your Language
Some people are able to adjust their vocabulary based upon their environment. This is an extremely important skill to have, especially when entering a new work place. To be safe, avoid any topics or language that could be dubbed as controversial.
And just like your parents taught you, don’t forget your “please” and “thank you’s.” A little gratitude goes a long way in the work place. These simple statements of appreciation can build respect and admiration from your peers and leaders.
So there you have it, Grasshopper; the stealthy skills to make you a business etiquette master.
Want a lesson in business etiquette? Centura Chesapeake will be hosting two workshops, Wednesday, June 7th, at 11:00 AM and 6:15 PM. Centura Chesapeake is located at 932 Ventures Way, Chesapeake, VA, 23320. For more information, call 757.549.2121.