Master’s Degree Program Information

In a September feature, writer Gina Rollins talks with several HIM professionals who sought master’s level educations to better manage the development and widespread adoption of health IT and digital information.

She writes, “With EHRs has come the need to better understand and explain how data are defined, analyzed, and interpreted. That includes everything from knowing the ins-and-outs of relational databases, grasping the evolving definitions of the legal medical record, and creating the ability to reproduce data consistently. There also is a burgeoning body of standards, vocabularies and terminologies, and the human factor of managing the transition from paper to electronic media.”

Rebecca B. Reynolds, EdD, RHIA, associate professor at the University of Tennessee, tells Rollins, “All of our students are working healthcare professionals who found themselves in a position where they need to know more about data standards or what to do with data. They are in our program to be able to perform their current jobs more effectively and efficiently.” Students a the University of Tennesee Health Science Center can earn a master of health informatics and information management.

At present there are 12 master’s degree programs, up from three just five years ago. Four are accredited by CAHIIM, the Commission on Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management Education, an independent accrediting organization. A fifth is awaiting review. CAHIIM maintains an online directory of approved programs.

The four currently approved programs are College of St. Scholastica, University of Illinois at Chicago, University of Pittsburgh, and University of Tennessee Health Science Center.

Also available on the CAHIIM site is the program approval manual.

The commission is in the process of updating standards and interpretations for master’s program accreditation. A draft version is available, though the public comment period has now closed. CAHIIM expects to issue final standards and interpretations this fall, with a May 1, 2009, application deadline for programs seeking accreditation for the 2009–2010 academic year. Look for announcements on the CAHIIM site.

AHIMA discusses the need for advanced-level HIM study in the 2007 white paper “Vision 2016: A Blueprint for Quality Education in Health Information Management.” The paper includes model graduate level program curriculum guide for health information management or applied health informatics education.

CAHIIM also accredits HIM education programs at the baccalaureate and associate degree levels. It maintains a directory of approved programs searchable by institution name, state, or availability of distance learning.

More about careers in HIM is available at HealthInformationCareers.com.

1 Comment

  1. I am re-thinking starting a Masters program. The problem is deciding which school to go to. Several are accredited by CAHIM, but cost is a factor also. How does one decide which one contains the elements and knowledge we need? Also there is the one for HIM, and one for HI, which one should I do? Everything is going to EHR, which one will give better job opportunities. I have my BS in HIM (2010) and still havent been able to get a job in the private sector, and I have over 13 plus yrs experience in the field. Most employers want you to have acute care record experience. You cant get that unless someone will hire you. I have put off starting my Masters because if the BS degree cannot get me there, why start the masters program and go further in debt?

    Would appreciate any input.

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