JACKSON – The Health Information Technology field is booming, a plus for anyone ready to be trained for a career earning an average annual pay of about $40,000, once credentials are in hand.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics expects employment of health information technicians to grow 13 percent by 2026, faster than the average for all occupations. The gateway to that rewarding career is Hinds Community College’s Health Information Technology program, with specializations that can build a student’s resume’ from the first day of class – and build their earnings potential beyond college and into the workplace.

Graduates who earn the Registered Health Information Technology (RHIT) designation upon successfully completing the exam become instantly versatile and valuable in the workplace – allowing them to work both inside and outside of hospitals.

“I came to Hinds to further my education and have more options,” said Sara Brown, 34, of Brandon. “With the RHIT, I can do in-patient coding while working in the hospital.”

Brown was certified to work the medical coding field for outpatient and emergency room cases before returning to school to earn her RHIT credential.

“I’ve enjoyed being able to earn this credential with the help of instructors at Hinds,” Brown said. “They are so knowledgeable and they know what they’re doing.”

For Renada Young, 33, of Pearl, her credential and certification will mean being able to work in the healthcare industry in precisely the place where she feels most comfortable.

“My first degree was in psychology, but I wanted to move into the healthcare field,” Young said. “I didn’t necessarily want to work directly with patients, but I do know my way around computers. So, I looked into this program and it was the best fit for me. There are so many job titles and functions out there with this degree.”

Hinds Community College’s program is a 22-month course of study, which leads to an Associate of Applied Sciences degree with a specialization in Health Information Technology. Graduates then sit for the RHIT exam. They do so after having received quality instruction in coding, medical reimbursement and billing and information technology in healthcare.

In the Jackson area, graduates of the program typically earn $18 an hour. But, those salaries can rise quickly with both experience and more advanced degrees. Practitioners can start their education at Hinds Community College and continue their education as they work in the field to increase their salaries over a period of time.

“The instructors at Hinds will teach you exactly what you’ll see in the field, not just what the book says,” said Kena Walker, of Jackson, a home-based Health Information Technologist and former LPN who graduated from the program in 2015. “Our class was distinguished in that we had a 100 percent pass rate.”

Students are trained by those who’ve worked in the industry, one that demands sound judgment and expertise with vital patient records and other billing data. Industry-wide, graduates of accredited programs may pursue more than 125 job titles in Health IT in about 40 different work settings, according to the American Health Information Management Association.

The industry has expanded its scope beyond basic medical coding, as the BLS cites a greater need for more medical services and medical data organization due to an ever-aging U.S. population. Cancer registrars are expected to continue to be in high demand, as well as other “special purpose registries” due to many illnesses being detected treated later in life, BLS data shows.

The Hinds Community College Health Information Technology program is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management (http://www.cahiim.org/)

“HIT is a very diverse career that is a great fit for someone interested in computers and the business side of healthcare,” said HIT program director Michelle McGuffee. “A knowledge of pathophysiology, pharmacology, and medical terminology is important for us to do our jobs correctly. We have a lot of knowledge that other health care providers have, but in this field we don’t have to provide the hands-on care.”

For more information, contact McGuffee, director of the program based at the college’s Jackson Campus-Nursing Allied Health Center, at 601.376.4823, Christy Bokros, assistant dean for Allied Health programs, at 601-376-4952, or visit www.hindscc.edu.

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