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Northeast HIMS program awarded accreditation, looks toward future

Northeast HIMS program awarded accreditation, looks toward future

NORFOLK, NE - The Health Information Management Systems (HIMS) program at Northeast Community College has been accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management Education (CAHIIM).

The accreditation from CAHIIM allows students who have graduated from Northeast’s HIMS program to apply for and take the Registered Health Information Technician (RHIT) exam, which awards them an associate-level credential in the field.

“We are so excited that our HIMS program is now accredited,” said Dr. Michele Gill, dean of health and wellness at Northeast. “With the CAHIIM accreditation, our students and graduates can sit for their RHIT credentialing exam, which is the gateway to job attainment and assures employers of the graduate’s industry work readiness.”

Tina Mazuch, HIMS instructor, said that in completing the exam, students show they have acquired the skills and proficiency needed in today’s electronic health record (EHR) environment.

“The healthcare field continues to evolve and requires professionals with skills not only in medical coding but also technical writing, data management and analytics, and project management, all skills in which health information management professionals learn and obtain throughout their educational experience at Northeast Community College.”

Historically, HIMS-related programs at Northeast have gone by several names, such as medical secretary, medical office technology, medical administrative assistant and its current name: health information management systems.

Mazuch herself attended Northeast when the program was called medical office technology. An instructor in one of her coding classes held a Registered Health Information Administrator (RHIA) credential, a bachelor-level certification administered by the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA).

“I immediately decided this was the career path and credential I wanted to pursue. In order to obtain the RHIA credential, I attended a four-year school that offered the HIMS program. I completed the associate of arts degree at Northeast Community College with the intention to transfer to College of St. Mary to complete the HIM program. I completed the program and received the RHIA credential.”

Mazuch went on to earn the Certified Coding Specialist (CCS) credential and noted that AHIMA offers a number of specialized credentials HIM professionals can pursue once they obtain the required relevant experience.

Mazuch joined Northeast as a full-time faculty member in 2012, and by 2014, the newly renamed HIMS program began, enrolling 19 students. To date, 21 students have graduated from the program.

Northeast began its accreditation process in December, 2014, when it submitted its initial application to CAHIIM.

“The accrediting process allowed us to complete a rigorous self-study of the program’s curriculum and coursework as well as an overall evaluation of the program and the plan for sustainability over the long run,” Gill said. “We are in great shape moving forward.”

Dr. Michael Chipps, Northeast president, praised the faculty and staff involved in the effort.

“HIMS professionals hold many diverse roles as they provide reliable and valid information that drives the growing healthcare industry. This is an exciting time in the program’s development for Northeast, and I would like to thank our faculty and staff for their hard work and dedication throughout the accreditation process.”

The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that job growth in the HIMS field will increase by 13-percent from 2016 to 2026.

“As the population ages and utilizes the health information data collected, our graduates will be well-positioned to compete for these new positions,” Gill said.

For more information about the Health Information Management Systems program at Northeast Community College, contact the health and wellness division at (402) 844-7325.