Monday, March 8, 2010

VSP Helps Employees Learn New Computer Skills

by Holly Hosler

What if you could perform your job better all because you spent a scant six hours in front of a computer? Hundreds of LifeBridge Health employees have done just that by taking a computer course at VSP. VSP provides training, job assessment and business services to the Baltimore community.

“Our most popular class is Excel for Beginners,” says Tracy Piazza, a VSP technical skills trainer who teaches the computer courses. “It’s a very functional course as Excel does everything – it calculates budgets and inventories; it tracks data much like a database would; it allows users to create charts and tables; and it can be used to execute mathematical formulas that give managers good information.”

Morgan Green, patient care associate in the Intermediate Care Unit at Sinai Hospital, took classes in both Word and Excel. She had some experience with Word in high school, but the VSP classes reacquainted her with the program, which she was using extensively for her job in dietary. Now that she’s a nursing student, Morgan finds the skills she gained invaluable to her school work and even uses Excel to make charts for her assignments.

“The teacher made the classes fun,” Morgan says. “Tracy was very helpful and even gave us her e-mail and phone number so that we could ask her questions outside of class.” Upon completion of a workshop, each student receives a user-friendly manual for the software and a quick reference card.

Jonathan Karanja, clinical systems coordinator at Levindale, also took the Word and Excel classes at VSP. Jonathan’s newfound knowledge of Excel allows him to use pivot tables for audits, which are a large part of his job. The computer classes have also made him the computer “go-to guy” at Levindale and Courtland Gardens.

“I love the fact that I can help others with what I know,” he says.

VSP offers Word and Excel courses (at beginner, advanced and expert levels) and PowerPoint (beginner and advanced), so no matter your existing knowledge of these computer programs, chances are there’s a class for you. For those who consider themselves computer-illiterate, there’s a Computer Fundamentals class, which teaches students the Windows operating system and how to use a mouse through a series of “mousercises.” And if figuring out the LifeBridge Health e-mail system is a puzzle for you, there’s a class on using GroupWise. Each two-session course meets for three hours during a workday morning or afternoon; and if the course relates to your job, many departments will even cover the $72 class fee.

Linda Bailey, recreation therapist at Levindale, was motivated to take the two PowerPoint courses so she could prepare a formal presentation, but she now applies her expertise to better serve the residents.

“Learning how to use PowerPoint has opened up a whole new world of activities for my residents and me,” says Linda. “Some of my residents have problems with the spoken word and require visuals to know what we are talking about. … With PowerPoint, the entire group can view the pictures at one time.” She also uses the software to play Jeopardy! games with the residents, which helps keep their minds active and memories sharp.

“I cannot say enough about how happy I am that through my employer I was able to update my skills in such a practical way,” concludes Linda. “My new skills benefit the people I work with.”

To learn more about VSP, call 410-358-8200.

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