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Free training program creates opportunities

By Staff | Sep 14, 2009

Southwest Florida resident Christina Holloway said a free Lee County training program has changed her life.
A mother of four, Holloway had owned a cleaning service business to help her be flexible with her time and her children, but when the economy slowed, so did her income.
Now she is employed by a local physician’s office, and said, “I couldn’t be happier.”
Holloway is a recent graduate of the Medical Office Skills Job Training Program offered by Lee County Department of Human Services.
The seven-month no-cost program is offered twice a year, with the next session starting Tuesday, Oct. 13, and the class will graduate in May 2010.
Officials said the program is now being offered to all Lee County residents who qualify and space is still available.
“It is a medical office skills program, so we’re there teaching the skills to work at the front desk of a doctor’s office. Graduates would be qualified to work in positions such as medical receptionist, check-in/check-out or medical records. These are jobs in high demand despite the economic climate,” said Marti Mills, Lee County Human Services Coordinator.
All applicants must be working but of low income, provide proof of high school diploma or GED, pass a basic assessment in reading, language and spelling and pass a criminal background check.
There are many out there in this situation, said Mills, who welcome the chance for no-cost education, especially in the medical field.
“Healthcare is one of the number one industries in the state of Florida, including local areas,” Mills continued. “We get all kind of great success stories from graduates who feel as if they have a better ability to take care of their families and/or have been able to get off of public assistance. And they gained a general sense of self confidence.”
Holloway, said Mills, is a great success story.
Holloway cannot say enough wonderful things about the program and the new job she found upon graduation. She’s currently employed by Douglas A. Newland MD, a neurologist with a medical group practice located in Fort Myers.
“I love the job. I’m learning so much here. We get to do front office and check in and check out, as well as being trained as a medical assistant and doing medical transcription,” she said.
Holloway said her co-workers and especially the doctor have been more than supportive of her getting the training and being on the job.
“I graduated the end of May and Marti [the program director] was really supportive in helping me put out resumes. Then I had a few interviews. Finally I got a call back from Dr. Newland’s office,” she said.
She said the initial interview was rough, especially when the said they had several candidates who had more experience.
She said she then had the confidence to sell herself from the program. She told her interviewer, “I’d be perfect because you could mold me into how you would want me to work for your office, instead of someone who had a set routine.”
That directness and sincerity apparently got her the job.
“I wanted to get into the program for three years but something always came up,” Holloway continued. Friends then said they’d support her and help watch her kids.
She not only credited Mills but also Barbara Goens, another program director, for helping her land her new dream job.
“They are partners in the program. I’m the cheerleader to this program,” said Holloway.
This training is available through the Lee Education and Employment Program and is funded by a Community Services Block Grant. The federal grant gives low-income persons the opportunity to raise their income and enter a new career at the front desk of a medical facility or in medical records. The Medical Office Skills (certificate) Program includes Keyboarding and Computer Applications, Medical Terminology, Medical Office Procedures, Basic Billing and Coding, Medical Manager Software, HIPAA training and Heartsaver AED certification.
The program won a 2001 National Association of Counties Achievement Award for employment and training and was the only county program in the United States to win a 2002 Public Service Excellence Award.
Successful applicants must have reliable transportation to the classes which are held from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. on Tuesday and Thursday nights at High Tech Center Central at 3800 Michigan Avenue in Fort Myers. The L.E.E. program covers all costs for tuition, books and childcare (during class hours), and assists with resumes and job placement.
“If you miss the deadline, our classes are offered two times a year,” said Mills. “We start taking applications in July and January of each year, and classes take place in April and October.”
For information on the program contact Mills at 533-7933.