The Virginia schools discussed in this article offer health information technology (HIT) or health information management (HIM) programs, which include similar coursework and can prepare students for comparable career paths. Studies are offered through certificate programs, which may require between 23 and 50 credits for completion, depending on the school. In addition, programs are also widely available at the associate degree level, and less commonly at the bachelor's degree level. Several programs integrate an internship component, which allows students to gain real-world experience in the field.
The programs listed below may prepare students to pursue one of the HIT certifications.
Lord Fairfax Community College
Lord Fairfax Community College in Middletown has a 2-year HIM associate's degree program. Although the program can help students prepare for the RHIT certification exam, it is not yet accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management Education (CAHIIM). Courses include medical terminology, health data classification systems, health statistics, health records applications, health information systems and management practices. In the last semester of the program, students can develop professional skills through the coordinated internship.
Arlington-based Marymount University offers an information technology bachelor's program that has a health information technology specialization option. The program is based on a Liberal Arts core and focuses on computer technology, healthcare statistics, computer networking, computer security and integrated healthcare technology.
Northern Virginia Community College
Northern Virginia Community College in Annandale has a 23-credit-hour HIT certificate program and a 72-credit-hour HIM associate's degree program. Students can also enroll in an HIM certificate program focusing on clinical data coding. Prior to beginning the HIT certificate program, prospective students need to have 6 months of experience in a related field. In order to enroll in the HIM associate's degree program, students must pass prerequisite courses in human anatomy and physiology, healthcare orientation, college composition, intercultural communication and medical terminology.
The HIT certificate and HIM associate's degree programs feature courses in healthcare information systems, healthcare setting performance improvement, electronic health record (EHR) application and healthcare technology. The certificate program also features on-site training for healthcare information systems and EHR configuration. Along with a capstone course and clinical practice, the associate's degree program includes courses covering HIM pharmacology, human pathology, health statistics, HIM supervision practices, health data classification systems and medical coding. This program is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management Education (CAHIIM) and prepares students to take the AHIMA's Registered Health Information Technician (RHIT) certification exam.
Piedmont Virginia Community College
A 50-credit-hour HIM certificate program is offered through Piedmont Virginia Community College in Charlottesville. Coursework covers medical terminology, health information and classification systems, health records coding, medical electronic billing, medical reimbursement issues and health information procedures. Clinical practice is required in the final semester.
Tidewater Community College
Tidewater Community College is located in Norfolk. This school provides a 72-credit-hour HIM associate's degree program. This CAHIIM-accredited degree program covers HIT pharmacology, health records coding, healthcare reimbursement, health statistics, human pathology, anatomy and physiology. Graduates qualify to sit for the RHIT certification exam.
Virginia Highlands Community College
Located in Abingdon, Virginia Highlands Community College offers an HIM certificate program that consists of 36 credit hours. Topics include healthcare information systems, medical coding, anatomy and physiology, health records management, medical terminology, medical reimbursement and disease processes. Students are also required to develop and submit an HIM project.
Virginia Western Community College
Virginia Western Community College, found in Roanoke, provides prospective students with a 34-credit-hour electronic medical records management certificate program, a 28-credit-hour health records coding certificate program and a 29-credit-hour medical office specialist certificate program. The electronic medical records management program trains students in word processing, health record documents, medical terminology, business communication and healthcare information systems. Those in the health records coding program take courses in medical terminology, health insurance reimbursement, office administration and keyboarding. Students enrolled in the medical office specialist program are educated in health records documentation, medical practice management, word processing, medical terminology and health records coding. The health records coding and medical office specialist programs require a coordinated internship as well.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employers are most likely to hire health information technicians who have earned a professional certification. The American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) offers certifications for health information technicians, such as the Registered Health Information Technician and Registered Health Information Administrator designations.
School Comparison: At a Glance
|School Name||School Type and Setting||HIT Programs Offered||Undergraduate Tuition and Fees (2018-2019)*|
|Lord Fairfax Community College||2-year; public; fringe rural||Associate of Applied Science in Health Information Management (HIM)|| $4,739 in-state
|Marymount University||4-year; private, not-for-profit; midsize city|| Bachelor of Science in Information Technology - Health IT specialization,
|Northern Virginia Community College||2-year; public; large suburb|| Clinical Data Coding Career Studies Certificate,
HIT Career Studies Certificate,
Associate of Applied Science in HIM
| $5,610 in-state
|Piedmont Virginia Community College||2-year; public; small suburb||HIM Certificate|| $4,790 in-state
|Tidewater Community College||2-year; public; midsize city||Associate of Applied Science in HIM|| $5,561 in-state
|Virginia Highlands Community College||2-year; public; small suburb||HIM Certificate|| $4,710 in-state
|Virginia Western Community College||2-year; public; small city|| HIM: Electronic Medical Records Management Certificate,
HIM: Health Records Coding Career Studies Certificate,
HIM: Medical Office Specialist Career Studies Certificate
| $5,355 in-state
Source: *National Center for Education Statistics.