The burgeoning use of online medical records, strict HIPAA privacy requirements and continuing uncertainty in health care law can make pursuing a career in health care anxiety-inducing. With all of these innovations and changes in health care data management, does a degree in healthcare information management (HIM) lead to good job prospects?
Demand for HIM Graduates
Overall, the news is positive for those just graduating with an HIM degree. Growth in health care jobs, in general, outpace job growth in other industries. The prospects for jobs in HIM, in particular, are even rosier. The need for HIM professionals is expected to grow by 20 percent over the next five years, estimates the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Who Employs HIM Graduates?
The types of facilities that employ HIM professionals are equally robust. Although more than half of all HIM professionals work for acute care hospitals, about a third of HIM workers are employed at integrated health systems, other provider settings and clinics and physician offices. Long-term care facilities, home health companies, educational institutions and behavioral and mental health organizations all offer positions for those with HIM degrees.
Three Steps to Landing an HIM Job
General job prospects are just part of the picture though. As with careers in any industry, actively engaging in less direct job-seeking methods can make all the difference. Working as a volunteer or intern, making contacts in the industry and earning advanced certifications make HIM graduates infinitely more employable. Ideally, preparing for the job hunt begins long before graduation.
Working as an intern or volunteer in a health care setting provides valuable industry experience and a close-up look at a particular company's culture and organizational structure. Even more importantly, internships offer opportunities to get acquainted with the types of jobs available, contact with other HIM professionals and access to the insider's track on potential job openings.
Network, Network, Network
Networking with others in the industry is so critical, in fact, that the Association of Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) estimates that 70 to 80 percent of jobs are earned through networking. If taking on a volunteer or intern position isn't feasible while going to school, all is not lost. There are plenty of other networking opportunities out there. College professors are rich sources of information about local companies and important contacts. Most professional associations, including AHIMA, offer discount student memberships, career advice, job listings and local chapter meetings that give students and new graduates a chance to get to know other HIM professionals.
Seek More Certifications
In addition to an HIM degree, advanced professional certifications can make a significant difference in opening up job options. A variety of health care associations offer certifications that demonstrate proficiency in certain specialties and provide opportunities for higher salaries.
Finding a rewarding HIM job doesn't have to feel impossible. Start networking early, be willing to take volunteer opportunities and join professional associations that offer job placement assistance and extra certification. As an HIM graduate, your job prospects are keen if you plan your job hunt as clearly as you plan your education.