Health Information Management Bachelor's Degree
With the increase in information in the healthcare field, comes a growing need for efficient information management and control. You might be able to play an important role by earning a bachelor's degree in health information management (HIM). Read on for more details on what you'll study in this degree program and the job outlook. Schools offering Electronic Medical Records degrees can also be found in these popular choices.
How Important is a Health Information Management Bachelor's Degree?
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the industry standard for a position in health information management is a master's degree to qualify (www.bls.gov). However, the BLS also states that at smaller medical practices, or in individual departments at a larger practice, a bachelor's degree may qualify you for an entry-level position.
You can locate a program through the Association of University Programs in Health Administration (AUPHA), which is a network of individuals, schools and organizations dedicated to promoting excellence in healthcare management education (www.aupha.org). Additionally, you may want to use the Commission on Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management Education (CAHIIM). The CAHIIM maintains an online directory of schools that offer health information management programs on several academic levels (www.cahiim.org).
What Will I Learn in an Undergraduate Program?
Generally, it takes four years to complete a program consisting of 120-129 credit hours that leads to a Bachelor of Science in Health Information Management. The program consists of general education courses and prerequisites, such as anatomy and physiology, statistics, medical terminology and personal communication. Typical courses in the professional curriculum section may include organization and management of an HIM department, healthcare coding, information technology, legal aspects of HIM, pharmacology and health information science.
You're required to complete a series of supervised practicum experiences or externships at a school-approved healthcare facility. During these sections, you observe physician-patient relationships, learn how a HIM department functions and put into practice lessons learned in the classroom.
What Are Some Online Possibilities?
Schools may give you the opportunity to complete at least part of your requirements online. Any internships or practicum experiences must be completed in person. Depending on the school, online programs may be presented asynchronously, which allows you to access them at your convenience, by way of a course management system. Other schools might utilize a partially synchronous format, requiring you to access a meeting or seminar at a specific time. Communication is facilitated through chat sessions, e-mail and discussion boards.
What Is the Occupational Outlook?
Completion of a program can qualify you to sit for a certification examination administered by the American Health Information Management Association. Passing the exam can earn you the designation registered health information administrator (RHIA). While you must be licensed by your state in order to practice, certification is not a legal requirement. However, certification can increase your employment and advancement potential.
The BLS projected that employment opportunities for health and medical services managers would increase 16% from 2008-2018 (www.bls.gov). In May 2010, it was determined that the mean annual wage for the occupation was $93,670. It should be noted that the figure includes those health information managers who held master's degrees, as well as those who held bachelor's degrees.
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