To successfully attend to the primary goal of putting patient welfare first, the system of healthcare depends upon doctors and nurses working on the front lines, as well as an army of administrators working behind the scenes. One of the most important types of administrators is the health information manager. These professionals work to ensure that all patient and billing health information in all forms is accurate, accessible, secure, and optimized.
Because of the growth in the healthcare industry sector, the field of health information management (HIM) is booming. Not only is demand for qualified administrators and technicians growing, but salaries are on the rise and positions for HIM professionals are being created at the executive level. Opportunity awaits, but mostly for those who have completed the necessary levels of education.
Who Gets a Health Information Management Degree?
There are professionals with diverse skill sets from all walks of life who enter the field of HIM and find personal and professional satisfaction. However, there are a few characteristics that all of these professionals share:
- Highly detail oriented
- Ability to work in teams
- Capable of managing teams
- Extremely organized
- Very tech savvy
- Fast problem solver
Why Get a Health Information Management Degree?
Earning a degree is not the only way to break into the field. There are also certificate and diploma programs available that typically take less time to complete and cost less money. But the advantage of a health information management degree is that it provides a solid foundation of education and hands on experience that can be used to kick-start a career. A certificate or diploma will qualify graduates for some jobs, but traditionally more entry-level. In order to advance, an HIM professional must have at least a bachelor’s degree and preferably a master’s degree.
Health Information Management Degree Options
Since the demand for qualified professionals is growing so rapidly, the number of health information management degree options has expanded significantly in recent years. The specific program you choose to attend will depend largely on your budget, preferred learning style, personal obligations, and career ambitions. However, there are several considerations you will want to decide first:
Type of Degree
First, choose between a two-year associate’s degree or a four-year bachelor’s degree. Once you have completed your undergraduate program you’ll need to consider a master’s program, and depending upon your career goals, perhaps a PhD or doctorate as well.
Choose between a program that is campus-based, one that is entirely online or a hybrid program that blends both environments depending upon studies.
What to Look for in a Health Information Management Degree
The degree you earn is the first major investment you’ll make in your career. To avoid wasting time and money on a degree that does not adequately prepare you, you must consider various options carefully. That is not always easy to do considering every program claims to provide a rigorous curriculum taught by experienced instructors. To help you begin narrowing down your options, look for these features in any program you seriously consider:
The Commission on Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management Education (CAHIIM) endorses only the programs that provide an adequate standard based on industry needs and regulations, of education and evaluation.
The tuition you pay for a health information management degree can vary widely. Do not assume that higher tuition automatically translates to a higher quality education.
Moving could give you access to a premier program or create an unwelcome interruption in your life. Be sure to weigh the pros and cons carefully.
It is possible to get a general health information management degree or to specialize in a subset of the field like health information technology. If there are specific subjects or career options that interest you, look for a program that allows you to concentrate your focus and specialize.
The simple fact is, some degree programs are better than others. Future employers may give the highest consideration to job seekers with a degree from a prestigious program. Do not make this the focus of your search, but be sure to consider how attending one program over another will affect your career over the long term.
With HIM growing and the demand for qualified professionals and graduates on the rise, why not make now the right time to begin your school search? If you’re committed to a career helping others while you stand on the cutting edge of healthcare technology, there’s no better time to get started doing your research.
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