Careers that Change the World: Health Information Technology Published November 8, 2016


A career in health care doesn’t always mean having contact directly with patients. In fact, there are many behind-the-scenes roles vital to providing quality health care that don’t require any patient interaction. If health care intrigues you, but you’re more interested in the numbers and data side of things, a career in health information technology may be for you. 

Rose State’s Associate of Applied Science in Health Information Technology program is fully accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management Education, or CAHIIM, and is one of only two CAHIIM-accredited on-site HIT programs in Oklahoma. Graduates can enter the health care field with the credentials to secure a good job in a growing industry.

What is Health Information Technology?

Health Information Technology, or HIT, combines clinical knowledge with business acumen and information technology. HIT professionals must be able to analyze, properly maintain, and effectively secure health information across a variety of clinical settings. From patient records to treatment plans, health information is an integral part of the comprehensive health care industry.

Student and Professor

What Career Options Do I Have with Health Information Technology?

A degree in health information technology can open doors to a variety of job options, including:

  •          Data analyst
  •          Cancer/disease registrar
  •          Coding specialist
  •          Health information department manager
  •          Reimbursement specialist
  •          Compliance manager
  •          Quality improvement manager
  •          Privacy officer
  •          Other various positions

Don’t want to work in a hospital? Health information technicians are needed in an array of clinical settings, including home health agencies, physician’s offices, urgent care facilities, and surgery centers. Many other career options are available through insurance companies, health care technology firms, software vendors, and with government entities that use health information.

The HIT industry isn’t slowing down anytime soon, either. The Bureau of Labor Statistics forecasts 15 percent growth by 2024, much faster than economic averages. Across the nation, 29,000 HIT jobs will soon be needed.

Rose State College health information technology graduates typically enter the field earning $30,000 to $34,000 annually. This can vary based on job title and previous health care experience, and of course, there is always room for growth.

Health Information Technology at Rose State

Rose State College’s professional course of study in Health Information Technology lasts two years and accepts 15 new students each fall.

“We have several ‘second career people’ – those who have been in the health care industry but are coming back for re-training, those wanting to stay in health care but just get away from patient care, nurses tired of hands-on patient care or shift work, and some who are coming from completely different careers or life situations,” says Linda Whaley, RHIA, CCS, Rose State’s Health Information Technology program director. “They see that this is a good fit to use some of their existing knowledge, or they’re realizing that to advance in this field, they need the credentials along with the knowledge.”

Students may be required to complete basic or related courses before entering the program; an advisor can help prospective students determine the steps necessary to be considered for acceptance into the HIT program.

“At least half of our students work part-time while they’re in school,” Whaley says. 

Classes Involved

Because HIT incorporates business, data, and clinical knowledge, students will take courses across a range of disciplines, including:

  •          Legal Aspects of Health Information,
  •          Anatomy & Physiology
  •          Medical Terminology
  •          Quality Improvement
  •          Medical Coding
  •          Pharmacology
  •          Electronic Health Records and Information Systems
  •          Health Care Reimbursement
  •          Other required courses

“I think people are surprised by the depth of clinical knowledge and wide range of information the program covers,” Whaley says. “Besides the clinical aspects, we get into the legal aspects of healthcare. It’s a very diverse skill set.”

Professional Experience Before Graduation

All Rose State HIT students are required to complete professional clinical hours before graduation.

“We call these hours ‘PPE’ — professional practice experience,” Whaley explains. “They can be done at a clinical site such as a hospital, clinic, or outpatient setting. We also have some in non-health care settings, but they still relate to health information. We’ve gone to the state health department and other governmental entities, as well as non-direct-patient-care organizations that still process or audit health care information.”

Students complete certain PPEs as a group but may go to certain sites on their own to gain experience.

“It’s not uncommon for students to get positions and offers through the PPEs. It’s like a job interview,” Whaley says. With years of professional experience, Whaley also has access to valuable alumni and industry connections to help students find work post-graduation, but student initiative is essential. “The ones who apply themselves and take initiative for their job search can typically find jobs in Oklahoma City, especially if they take their credentialing exam and pass.”

The Rose State Difference

Rose State boasts a 100 percent credentialing exam pass rate for the Registered Health Information Technician test — more than 25 percent better than the national average. The caring professors and staff and the abundance of resources available to Rose State students help prepare HIT graduates to find meaningful work in the Oklahoma City metro area after earning their degrees.

“We’re one of the best-kept secrets,” says Whaley. “People just don’t know about all of the career options out there for health information professionals.”

The HIT Club on campus offers educational and social events to foster friendships and business relationships among students. Anyone interested in the field of health information is welcome to attend.

If you’re interested in learning more about the HIT program at Rose State, contact Program Director Linda Whaley at 405-733-7578.