“The beauty of software development is that you can make mistakes without worrying about ruining physical components, like a piece of physical machinery or setting your garage on fire.”
Thankfully for the NC AHEC Program, there’s a lot of beauty to be found in the work that Tripp Minich oversees at Greensboro AHEC, where he serves as the Director of IT in the Education Technology unit.
Tripp’s primary responsibilities can be organized into four main areas—managing servers and domains, programming internal applications for reporting and operations, supporting statewide applications (including event management tools and online evaluations and certificates), and serving as a liaison to Cone Health, where he assists with statewide and hospital IT issues.
“I got interested in the field because I love to design and build things,” he shared. After studying business administration and economics at Elon University, Tripp first began working in the computer industry in the 1980s.
“I started out by selling personal computers and then migrated into training, but was always involved in programming alongside it.” He was soon offered an interview and position with IBM.
Shortly thereafter, Tripp used $3,000 to open his own business computer training company with that grew to become the largest training center in Greensboro and later opened a second location in Charlotte. He sold it in 1997 to become an independent contractor developer, serving a diverse client list from Volvo automotives to businesses local to the Triad. That list eventually expanded to include Greensboro AHEC.
“I had a connection with Karen Zeliff, who started the IT program here,” he said. “I started by working on the very first Greensboro AHEC website.” Tripp consulted with the office for nine months before being offered a full-time position. He joined the Educational Technology team in 1999.
The longest-running application managed by Tripp’s team is AHEConnect, which has provided quality online educational programming, developed by numerous partners and subject matter experts in most health care disciplines, for nearly 20 years. With almost 20,000 registrations annually, AHEConnect help providers meet their continuing education and accreditation needs across the state.
“At the time, there weren’t a lot of AHECs that had an online learning management system,” Tripp said. “When it started out, we just had one course. The growth of that is something we’re very proud of here at Greensboro AHEC.”
AHEConnect has grown to serve an impressive list of health and nonprofit organizations in North Carolina and beyond, including dental associations in Michigan and Florida, the National Stroke Association, the Wounded Warrior Project, and multiple academic institutions in North Carolina, including Duke University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Course content developed at Greensboro AHEC includes fall prevention training for the Carolina Geriatric Education Center (CGEC), opioid education for community health workers, and an upcoming continuing education module for the Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) program.
Tripp doesn’t do it alone. “Our Educational Technology team—including Karen Phillips, Lauren Honeycutt, and Mike Coughlin—provide exceptional content for our courses, which is really the primary product we deliver,” he shared. “I consider myself lucky to work with such a highly skilled group of professionals.”
Nevin Fouts, the Associate Director for Statewide IT in the NC AHEC Program Office, notes how Tripp’s perspective positions him to consult and advise on projects across the state. “Tripp’s knowledge of business logic is essential to building new systems, and because of that, he serves as a strong resource.”
“I got started working in the computer field a long time ago, and the reason for that really is because I enjoy working with what you could call logic-based systems.” Tripp said. “You have to have good logic skills in order to make what I call ‘digital robots’ that can run on their own. You have to build something in your mind before you can start putting your fingers on the keyboard and writing that code. You have to start thinking through solutions before you bring it to pen and paper.”
It takes no stretch of the imagination to connect those IT solutions with NC AHEC’s mission to provide and support educational activities and services with a focus on primary care in rural communities and those with less access to resources to recruit, train, and retain the workforce needed to create a healthy North Carolina.
“I think there are a number of ways that we take advantage of newer technologies to attract and engage those interested or already involved in health care fields,” he said. “Mobile computing, webinars, recorded conferences and workshops that can be viewed remotely—all of these things lend our audience modern ways of learning about health careers through NC AHEC. From a recruiting perspective, bringing that education online is a huge support to our mission.”
“It’s important to make those systems as easy to use as possible,” he added. “I am impressed by the work our forward-thinking statewide development team has done so far, and look forward to being involved in the implementation of new projects as we continue to evolve our IT services.”
When asked what he found most rewarding about his role at Greensboro, Tripp didn’t hesitate.
“It’s got to be the people throughout the system that I’m involved with,” he said.” There are just some of the nicest people. We have a wealth of talent, from physicians to educators, and folks from all of these different areas that AHEC is involved in. Not to mention the prestigious groups and institutions that we’re partnered with throughout the state. It makes me proud of the work I do.”
To learn more about our regional AHEC staffers who advance our mission to recruit, train, and retain North Carolina’s health care workforce, view past AHEC Stories.