Student Shares Why She Chose HIM Program — Flexible, Great Careers
Melissa Helms wants a career in health care but not the bedside patient aspect of the field.
That’s one reason she enrolled in East Central College’s Health Information Management (HIM) program, she said.
“I wasn’t sure I was capable of the hands-on patient care side of healthcare with all its goriness potential,” Helms commented. “However, I still wanted to be involved in the side of healthcare that truly makes an impact on patient care, outcomes, and the improvement of healthcare.”
Helms, of Villa Ridge, graduates in May with an Associate of Applied Science degree.
The American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) is celebrating students like Helms, and HIM professionals from April 17-23 during the annual Health Information Professionals (HIP) Week.
This year’s theme is “Health Information Powers Innovation.”
ECC offers an all-inclusive online program in HIM, including a one-semester Health Care Security Certificate of Specialization, a one-year Certificate of Achievement and a two-year AAS degree. The program includes a Professional Practice Experience (PPE).
“My favorite part of this program was the hands-on PPE course,” Helms commented. “The HIM PPE course is what clinicals are to nursing — so much fun and experience were gained during that semester.”
According to Helms, the flexibility ECC’s HIM program offers also attracted her to the College.
“I have three children so finding time to take care of them, worry about their schooling, the ability to take them to their extra-curricular activities, working around my husband’s work schedule, and being able to still work myself, if needed, is a struggle,” she said.
“The program being online allowed me to still have my life while fulfilling my life goal and dream.”
HIM is a broad field that connects the administrative, operational, and clinical components of health care. HIM specialists affect the quality of patient care and information at every stage of health care.
“HIM is more than just billing and coding, which a lot of people aren’t aware of — there is a lot of knowledge and requirements to understand billing and coding due to HIM jobs all having some aspect of these, but it is way more than that and can be more depending on which direction you see yourself going in the HIM field,” Helms added.
There are many facilities and industries where HIM graduates can works, including hospitals, physician offices and clinics, nursing homes, mental health clinics, insurance companies, government agencies and more.
“I love HIM because of the endless opportunities and options I have for myself and my future,” Helms said, adding that she plans to work in the field while continuing her education.
“My plan after college is to build experience for a year or two, while furthering my education by attending classes to achieve my bachelor’s degree in HIM,” she said.
Helms, along with others who earn their AAS degree, is eligible to take the Registered Health Information Technician (RHIT) exam to be professionally certified in the HIM field.
The ECC RHIT exam pass rate in 2020-21 was 91 percent, surpassing the national average of 78 percent.
The College’s HIM program is accredited by Commission on Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management (CAHIIM).
The sponsor of HIM Week, AHIMA, is a global nonprofit association of health information (HI) professionals. AHIMA represents professionals who work with health data for more than one billion patient visits each year.