What is an HIM Clerk?

A health information management clerk (HIM clerk) is also known as a medical records clerk, and is the person who organizes and updates patient information files. The majority work in physicians’ offices, hospitals, clinics, and other health related facilities that handle patient records.

How to Become a Health Information Management Clerk

HIM clerks are at the beginning level of the health information management tree of careers, so there’s plenty of opportunity for advancement. Although they may conceivably hire in with only a high school diploma they must have a well-rounded knowledge of the various codes, classification systems and software that is used in patient record keeping. Consequently, most HIM clerks hold at minimum, certification by the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) to increase their job prospects.

An HIM clerk position can be learned through apprenticeship and can be a valuable internship for those who are working on their associate’s or bachelor’s degree in a variety of related fields. Usually an HIM clerk will need one or two years of training before they are ready to work independently of supervision, so a post-secondary education is a valuable asset in this job market.

What Education is Necessary?

Because the work of an HIM clerk is so detail-oriented, they usually complete at least a certificate program before entering the job market. Coursework in healthcare delivery systems, health records management, healthcare laws, ethics, and medical terminology are common subjects for certification programs.

A post secondary certificate is typically the minimum education requirement for many medical record and health information clerk positions, although many employers choose to hire those with an associate’s degree in health information technology.

These programs provide instruction in health records management, healthcare delivery systems, medical terminology, and healthcare laws. Completion of such a program could provide an advantage in securing employment in a competitive job market.

Where do HIM Clerks Work?

HIM clerks work in many areas of the health field; basically wherever patient records are maintained. Here are some examples of employment possibilities:

  • Large hospitals
  • Nursing homes
  • Assisted living facilities
  • Private practice doctors
  • Medical clinics
  • Government agencies

Over half of HIM clerks work in hospitals and physicians offices; in large facilities that are always open they may be scheduled around the clock in shifts.

Job Growth and Prospects

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the job outlook for HIM clerks, like other medical information technicians, is excellent. Because of the aging baby boomer generation and other expansions in the healthcare industry, HIM clerk job growth is projected to be 13 percent through the year 2026, which is much faster than the average overall employment outlook.

Projected Job Growth

13 percent

Becoming an HIM clerk is a great entry-level career for several reasons. The job growth outlook is excellent, and once your training is complete you will have much flexibility if you choose to relocate or move to another hospital or facility. It’s also a great choice if you want to enter the health information field but can’t decide on a specific career.

While the HIM clerk position itself doesn’t have a lot of opportunity for advancement you can easily segue into a specialty by continuing your education. Many find employment as a HIM clerk while working on their associate’s, bachelors or master’s degree and find the position makes them more desirable upon graduation because they have demonstrated experience in the field.

Here are some examples of degrees you can pursue while working as an HIM clerk:

  • Health Information Management
  • Electronic Medical Records
  • Healthcare Administration
  • Medical Information Management
  • Health Systems Management Medical Administrative Billing and Coding

When choosing a program for HIM clerk training, you should make sure the school is accredited before you enroll. In addition you should verify the program or degree covers the information you’ll need to pass the certification exam given by the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) as this is the standard for the field.

Voluntary certification will show you are adept in the various classifications, codes and software applications used by HIM clerks, and will help you stand out from others who may not have earned their certification as a health information management clerk.

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