HIM - program information | Stark State College | North Canton, Ohio

HIM – program information

What is a registered health information technician (RHIT), and is it right for me?

The registered health information technician is a professional with a unique blend of clinical knowledge and information management skills.  Making a decision about a career is a difficult one. If you are interested in information technology, business administration, law and the improvement of health care, and you are an organized, detail‐oriented individual, this diverse career field may be just right for you! A strong background in health sciences, health information technology courses, and computer sciences are vital to the work the Health Information Technician does.

Where do health information technicians work? What are the working conditions?

The functions performed by health information technicians are numerous and change continuously. The job title and work setting dictates the actual tasks and responsibilities. They are primarily employed in hospitals, long‐term care, group practices, clinics, mental health facilities, HMO’s, rehabilitation facilities, medical billing companies, social service agencies, etc. Working conditions are usually very flexible, primarily day shift, and no weekends or holidays. Some jobs, like medical coding, require the employee to meet productivity and quality standards; therefore, the job can be stressful.

What is the job outlook for health information technicians?

The health information technician or specialist is one of the fastest growing occupations in the country today. According to the occupational outlook handbook, “employment of medical records and Health Information Technicians is expected to grow much faster than average for all occupations through 2018 because of rapid growth in the number of medical tests, treatments, and procedures that will be increasingly scrutinized by health insurance companies’ regulators, courts, and consumers. In addition with the increasing use of electronic health records, more technicians will be needed to complete the new responsibilities associated with electronic data management.

What are the job duties of registered health information technicians?

RHITs code diagnoses and procedures for reimbursement and research purposes;  applies laws and  regulations relative to maintenance, disclosure, confidentiality, and retention of health information; processes, analyzes, and graphically displays data to support clinical and business decision making; uses computer applications to manage health information .

What credentials are required to work as a registered health information technician?

Graduates of Stark State College’s health information management program who have earned an associate degree are eligible to take the national examination required to become a registered health information technician (RHIT).

What degrees are offered?

  • Associate of applied science degree
  • Medical coding certificate

What is the difference between the associate degree and certificate programs?

Students who earn an associate degree are eligible to take the national exam to earn the registered health information technician (RHIT) credential. Some of the basic technical classes are the same in the associate degree and certificate programs.  However, there are additional health information management (HIM) and non-technical courses beyond the basic HIM courses required to obtain the associate degree.  The associate degree also includes professional practicum site experiences.

Students in the medical coding certificate program are not required to complete professional practicum experiences and are not eligible to take the national RHIT exam. Medical coding certificate students are eligible to take coding credential exams.

How is the program designed?

After meeting the pre‐requisites, the student must complete a health and human services rolling admission application form to apply to the program. The HIM program at SSC is a 2‐year Associate degree program. A new group of students (24) start the program every fall semester. Some students choose to reduce their workload by taking non‐technical courses prior to formal program entry. These options are important considerations for those whose work or whose family responsibilities might otherwise prevent them from pursing an education. Once accepted, the technical HIM courses for the associate degree must be taken as outlined on the curriculum sheet, in the sequence noted, and are only held during the day. They are scheduled so that students can usually still work. Non‐technical courses are available during the day and night. Students may also receive credit for certain classes based on work experience and may test out of certain classes (up to 12 credit hours) by taking a proficiency test. Please note that proficiency testing involves paying a fee to test out of courses.

Is the program offered online?

The HIM program offers certain classes online while other classes are face-to-face. Online classes are described as Web 2 and Web 3. Web 2 classes are hybrid classes, which are designed where part of the class is taken face-to-face and part completed online. Web 3 classes are completed entirely online.

What are the eligibility requirements to apply for the program?

  • Overall GPA of 2.5 or higher
  • Required placement score or B or better in BIO 101
  • Required placement score or B or better in MTH091 and 092
  • Background check with BCI/FBI

How do I apply to the program?

  • Apply to Stark State College.
  • Meet with an admissions counselor.
  • Obtain the health and public services rolling admission packet from the admissions office.
  • Complete required background checks.
  • Complete the above courses and GPA application requirements.
  • Turn in completed application form found in the rolling admissions packet and background check eligibility notification to the academic records/registrar’s office.
  • You will be notified of your acceptance via mail.

What are some important things I should know?

Once enrolled in the program, students must maintain a “C” or better in all courses (technical and non-technical) in the curriculum, and courses must be taken in the sequence noted on the curriculum.

Students may not be eligible to be placed at professional practicum sites or find employment if they have a positive background check. Therefore, students may not be accepted into the program because of certain potential disqualifying offenses. Please see the criminal background check information for a list of potential disqualifying offenses.

  • You may have difficulty finding a job if you smoke.
  • Graduates are qualified to work in the field with either an associate degree or certificate.

How soon can I be accepted into the health information management program?

Most all of the health programs at Stark State College have acceptance lists. Therefore, you should check to see which year the program is currently accepting applications. It is important to note that the acceptance list changes continuously. Students change their mind, have difficulty meeting academic standards, or drop off the list for personal reasons, etc. As we delete names, we automatically move students up who are waiting. While you are waiting to start the core program classes, you may take any or all of the general study classes, which would lessen your course load. If you are also interested in pursuing a bachelor’s degree in HIM, additional courses can be suggested to help meet the bachelor degree requirements.

Does the program have a professional practicum experience component?

During semester II, students spend approximately eight (8) observation hours in a nontraditional health care facility, as part of the alternative health records and registries course. During semester III, students obtain hands‐on experience in the field, usually in a hospital setting. During semester IV, students may choose to go to other settings, which include long term care facilities, mental health facilities, social service agencies, rehabilitation facilities, cancer registries, physician offices, and other related sites. The following are the current professional practicum experiences:

Semester II – Alternative professional practice experience observation as part of the alternative health records and registries course – 8 hours.
Semester III – professional practice experience is scheduled during the day shift on Tuesday for the entire semester – up to 120 hours.
Semester IV – professional practice experience is scheduled during the day shift Monday through Friday for 3 weeks at the end of the semester – up to 120 hours.

Students are required to complete health requirements and obtain a background check before starting the program due to the requirements of the practicum sites/employers. Students are ineligible to apply to the program with a positive background check. Students should be aware that, due to practicum sites requiring background checks, information discovered may delay or prevent professional practicum experience education opportunities and entry into the profession.

Will I be required to travel?

The sites utilized for professional practicum experiences are generally within a 75‐mile radius of Stark State College. Students are responsible for travel and food expenses.

What happens after graduation?

Following graduation with an associate of applied science degree in health information management, the student is eligible to take the national certification examination of the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA). Passing the exam signifies that the student has met nationally recognized entry‐level competencies and is certified as a registered health information technician – RHIT. The examination is comprehensive, covering all aspects of health information and other subjects addressed in the curriculum. The exam is also computer‐based and can be taken at over 100 sites nationally with results received immediately.

Are there continuing education requirements?

Lifelong learning and keeping skills up‐to‐date are important in this field. In order for the RHIT to maintain certification, it is required to obtain 20 clock hours of continuing education credit every two (2) years. For students interested in pursuing a bachelor’s degree, the HIM program has an articulation agreement with the University of Toledo. Graduates of the HIM program can take bridge classes at Stark State College and then complete the rest of the HIA degree online. The University of Cincinnati also offers an HIA program to HIM graduates, which is entirely online. The Ohio State University offers a traditional HIA bachelor’s degree. The student should contact the bachelor degree program for more information.

Is the health information management program accredited?

The health information management program is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management Education (CAHIIM).

How can I get more information?

You must make an appointment to meet with someone from the program to discuss the curriculum, program requirements, and course schedule.

Stark State Logo