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Opening the Door for Non-Traditional Students

Non-traditional student studying at home

Wil Limp

Over the years, more and more individuals enrolling in bachelor degree programs are non-traditional students – meaning not enrolling straight out of high school – with the numbers expected to continue rising.

Today’s non-traditional students in bachelor degree programs are second-career professionals who bring valuable work and life experience to the program. Their stories can help reinforce the curriculum and make the experience impactful for everyone in class.

But even more, once these students graduate, their diverse experiences, new knowledge and skills make them desirable employees.

Non-Traditional Students and the Benefits They Bring to Employers

Responsibility
In health information management and health IT education programs, many students learned about these career paths while working in other healthcare roles and see opportunities for advancement. Others are coming into health IT from unrelated fields like banking, retail management or education.

No matter where these students are coming from, all are coming with some level of responsibility from previous roles. Non-traditional students are also likely to have some level of leadership and management experience to go along with other transferable skills, such as project management, problem solving, budget oversite, finance and team building. While these skills may have been learned in a discipline outside of healthcare, they are useful in any field.

Commitment
Non-traditional students are choosing online programs more often because of the flexibility to continue to work, raise families, and yes, flexibility to log into their classes after hours. The fact that many of these students are earning their degree while working, often full time and parenting, shows a level of commitment that can be an indication of the type of dedicated, reliable employee they will be.

Collaboration
Most online programs also enroll a very diverse population from across the country and often internationally. This diversity and geographical separation also adds to the experience because students must learn to collaborate with multiple perspectives from outside of their own area, an important skill in a professional setting.

Health IT employers hiring these students should feel confident that these employees are coming to them with years of experience plus transferable skills – both new and existing – ready to go … they just need an opportunity.

Give them a chance to share their stories with you.

The views and opinions expressed in this blog or by commenters are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of HIMSS or its affiliates.

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