FAQs for Students

University of Washington — Health Informatics and Information Management Orientation

General Information

I am interested in exploring a career in Health Information Management. Where can I learn more about it?

What is Health Information? Find out more at AHIMA: http://www.ahima.org/careers/healthinfo?tabid=what

Is a career in Health Information Management a good fit for me?

Why choose Health Information as a career: Find out more at the AHIMA website: https://www.ahima.org/certification-careers/certifications-overview/

What kind of job can I get with a degree in Health Information Management?

There are many job possibilities with a degree in Health Information Management depending on your area of interest. See the AHIMA Career Map: http://hicareers.com/CareerMap/

What type of training do I need to get a job in Health Information Management?

The answer to that depends on where you are starting. Click here to see the different degree or certificate programs that are available in Health Information and to find information on which type of program might suit your needs best: http://www.ahima.org/careers/plan?tabid=cert

Make sure to review both the Certificate vs. Degree tab and the Which Program Meets Your Needs tab.

How do I choose a good school for Health Informatics and Information Management?

It is important to find a school that is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management (CAHIIM) education. An accredited school will ensure that the program is eligible for Federal Financial Aid and the program of study meets the CAHIIM standards. For more information, visit the CAHIIM website: http://www.cahiim.org/accreditation/accreditation.html

Questions for Enrolled Students

Is a student membership in AHIMA really worth the money?

Yes! Membership in AHIMA gives students access to many benefits such as:

  • Access to the AHIMA Body of Knowledge which is invaluable both for students doing research as well as in the workplace for ideas on answers to job-related challenges.
  • Access to the Engage Online Communities. Ask questions and receive answers from your peers as well as seasoned professionals.
  • Access to the digital version of Journal of AHIMA with many timely articles about the HIM profession is included in the price of membership (a $100 value!).
  • Eligibility to apply for the AHIMA Foundation Merit Scholarships. For more information visit: http://www.ahimafoundation.org/education/meritscholarships.aspx
  • Access to the Career and Student Center (http://www.ahima.org/careers), which offers programs such as Mentor Match Program and the Career Assist Job Bank.
  • Access to AHIMA’s Career Prep Webinars. This series of career prep webinars is free to members. There is also a Career Prep Workbook which is free to members!
  • Members receive discounts on books and preparation classes offered by AHIMA! Discounts are also offered on certification exams and meeting registrations.
  • Access to AHIMA’s Virtual Career Fairs. Meet hiring managers in one-on-one virtual meetings at this career fair free for AHIMA members.
  • Membership in the state chapter of AHIMA is included with the membership.
  • WSHIMA (Washington State component state association (CA)) also awards scholarships to students annually for which student members may apply.

My school requires a number of hours of professional practice experience. How do I find some place to host me?

The first place to look for this information would be your school. There should be someone at your school who coordinates student activities such as practicum hours. First see what resources they have to help. If you are enrolled in an online program, you may have to do the leg work yourself.

The best way to find someone to host your professional experience hours is by networking in advance of the need. Become active in WSHIMA and local association chapters. This is your best opportunity to make yourself known to the people who can help you as you make your way from student to professional as well. Volunteer opportunities exist both in person and online. Think about what interests you and offer to help. If you have social media skills, you could offer to help with a Facebook page or a LinkedIn page for WSHIMA.

The best way to make contacts is always in person, however. Try to attend WSHIMA workshops, and especially attend the WSHIMA Annual Meeting. The more people who get to know you, the better your chances of finding someone to help you with finding a site to sponsor/host your professional experience hours.

If you still need to find some place to visit you will need to start by calling managers at health care providers local to you. Explain what you need and ask for their help. They may not be able to assist but they might know someone else you might contact. Remember to consider alternative sites. Everyone who collects patient information and keeps medical records is a possible site to consider.

How do I get my foot in the door? I have no experience in HIM.

You need to plan ahead. Again, networking is essential to getting started in any industry. See the comments above regarding networking.

Consider volunteering with a local Health Information Management Association or the state association. By volunteering, seasoned HIM professionals get to know you and see that you’re committed to the field. When opportunities come along, they will be in a position to let you know about them and offer a reference based on knowledge of your involvement in the association.

Additionally, attending local and WSHIMA workshops and the WSHIMA Annual Meeting is a chance to get to know HIM professionals and for them to get to know you.

While you are still in school try to volunteer in the industry. Offer to work for free. Learn the basics by performing data entry tasks or scanning for release of information requests. Call managers of the Health Information Management Departments in your area and offer to assist with any projects they might need completed such as research or writing up task flow charts for the department. Use your imagination and see what else you can do. If you have no experience working in the healthcare environment, also consider any volunteer opportunity you can find in healthcare.

I have graduated now what? How do I find a job?

The first place to start the job search is with your school. Do they have a career center? If so, ask them for help. You will need a well-crafted resume for a start.

There are many websites to assist you with your job search. Try AHIMA.org, WSHIMA.org, Monster.com, Careerbuilder.com and Indeed.com. You should have a page on LinkedIn.com as well.

Also, make sure you have a clean digital footprint as well. Don’t know what that means? Try googling your own name and see what pops up. That is what recruiters will see when they google you. You only get one chance to make a good first impression!

For additional career preparation information, visit AHIMA’s Career Prep center: http://www.ahima.org/careers/careerprep

Another option for getting a foot in the door of Health Information Management is to apply for an apprenticeship. The AHIMA Foundation has developed an exciting opportunity to help job seekers prepare for a career in the Health Information Management field called Managing the Talent Pipeline in Health Information. There are four tracks for apprenticeship: Hospital Coder, Clinical Documentation Improvement Specialist, Business Analyst, and Data Analyst. For more information on eligibility requirements and where these apprenticeships are available, check out their website: http://www.ahimafoundation.org/prodev/apprentice.aspx.

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