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Deadline for medical office program extended

By Staff | Mar 23, 2016

The Lee County Department of Human Services’ award-winning Lee Education and Employment (L.E.E.) Medical Office Skills Program is once again on the horizon.

Twice a year, the classes are offered to people who are interested in gaining a career in a higher-paying profession such as medical clerical positions to get themselves out of poverty.

Classes are held from 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays in Fort Myers for seven months beginning April 19. The application deadline was recently extended to March 29.

Marti Mills said the program was created by a co-worker who noticed many people were coming in for assistance.

“We asked how do we avoid this problem. We applied for a Block Grant and evolved into the program,” Mills said. “It started with training in different fields, but narrowed it down to the medical office program. We know we can do it quickly and that there are jobs with benefits.”

Applications are available online. Individuals interested in this free job training for a medical front office career now have access to detailed information about the program via the website at www.leegov.com/dhs/fss/medical-office-skills-job-training

Applicants will be asked to answer basic eligibility questions before processing and printing their session event tickets, which are distributed on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Mills began using the online application process to weed out those who don’t qualify. Previously, Mills would have to sit down and speak with the 200 or so candidates for the 20 open slots.

“It was difficult for us to connect with people, so we did it online so people can apply at midnight if they wanted. Even those without Internet can apply at the library,” Mills said. “It’s easier for us and it lets people know more quickly if they are eligible.”

The L.E.E. Program is offered at no cost to eligible applicants. Students receive paid training/tuition, intensive case management, books, assistance with the cost of child care during class hours and other supportive services.

“I believe we’re the only program like this in the country. Some may be doing similar things, but we’re unique in that we created it on our own,” Mills said. “We need to get people to know more about it because it’s very successful.”

To be considered, applicants must be:

Lee County residents 18 or older; Low-income workers; Employed with documented earned income; Able to provide proof of a high school diploma or a GED; Able to pass a background check for medical employment; Able to have reliable transportation to and from class; Available to attend scheduled classes Tuesday and Thursday evenings; Willing to work with a case manager for one year; and willing to search for and accept full-time employment in the medical front office field prior to graduation.

Classroom subjects include medical and dental terminology, HIPAA regulations, medical front office procedures, electronic medical records, basics of medical billing and coding, OSHA, infection control, computer protocol and computer applications.

Students also gain instruction in resume writing and job search, interview, job retention and soft skills, which Mills said can be more important than the hard skills they learn in the classroom.

“People are always worried about giving those abilities to employees. We’re lucky to have a grant that teaches these skills that make them the most sellable employees they can be,” Mills said.

Successful graduates will receive a certificate of completion in Medical Office Skills and be fully trained to begin a career with upward mobility in a medical front office.

Graduates have been able to leave their minimum wage jobs and lift themselves and families out of poverty, as many of these jobs start at $12 to $14/hr.

Mills said one graduate, who was a single mother of four when she applied, will soon be receiving her RN certificate thanks to the hard work that started through the program.

Visit www.leegov.com/dhs click on Financial Assistance/ Self Sufficiency, and then Medical Office Skills Job Training. Applicants without computer access should contact Mills at 533-7933.