Equipped with an associate’s degree and nearly 20 years of experience in medical coding, Karen Youngblood was ready for new opportunities in her field.
“Having been a coder for so long, I wanted to explore different areas I might be interested in,” she said. “I was in the coding ‘bubble’ and wanted to see what else I could do, so I decided to get a bachelor’s degree.”
In 2019, Youngblood enrolled in the Tacoma Community College Bachelor of Applied Science (BAS) program in Health Information Management. Launched in fall 2016, TCC’s HIM BAS program is the first fully online HIM BAS program in Washington State. In spring 2020, the program earned accreditation from the Commission on Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management Education (CAHIIM).
“TCC was a natural choice for me,” said Youngblood. “I got my associate’s degree in Health Information Technology from TCC in 2001. My experience was so positive that I knew it would be a good fit. I also work full-time so the online structure was very convenient.”
Youngblood is entering her third quarter in the program and plans to graduate in June 2021. The program typically takes two years to complete. Coursework encompasses clinical knowledge, management and finance skills, data analysis, information technology, health law and legal compliance. Graduates are qualified to take the Registered Health Information Administrator (RHIA) exam.
“It’s been a really good experience so far,” Youngblood said. “The instructors are very understanding. There is a supportive community of fellow students with different areas of expertise. It’s nice to be able to reach out to other students.”
Recently, Youngblood started a new job (remotely) as a Risk and Reimbursement Specialist at a hospital in Minnesota.
“When you work full time and go to school full time it’s definitely challenging,” she said. “But I’ve already learned things that are helping me with my new job. The BAS degree will definitely open up career options for me.”
For more information, including a schedule of upcoming information sessions, click here.