Building a Career in Electronic Medical Records
With the increased automation of electronic medical records and growing use of mobile devices by healthcare providers in medical settings, career opportunities in electronic medical records are increasing. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) 20% growth is expected in this field by 2018. See The Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Handbook, 2010-2011 Edition; Medical Records and Health Information Technicians. For career changers and college students wishing to use their technology skills in a healthcare setting, a career in electronic medical records holds solid opportunity.
Levels of Professional Development
Most electronic medical records workers work in a variety of health care settings storing and accessing medical information electronically. Electronic records professionals generally need to obtain a specialized two year associate’s degree as well as credentialing, which involves passing a standardized exam. Depending on an individual’s area of interest and expertise, credentials can be obtained as professional development allows for the experience necessary to pass the exam. Two of the most common credentialing organizations are the American Health Information Management Association and the American Academy of Professional Coders. Both organizations offer informative links on their websites for individuals interested in related careers.
Professionals seeking more advanced opportunities in the field will need at least a Bachelor’s degree from a four year, regionally accredited university. Advanced leadership opportunities such as a health information manager, instructor, or supervisor generally requires a Master’s degree. These two years of additional education along with several more years of specialized experience is generally reserved for the most coveted jobs available to seasoned professionals in more complex leadership roles. The majority of professionals in this field hold four year degrees. Some employers offer tuition assistance programs to facilitate advancement.
Ongoing education and training is a regular part of this profession and can take the career in a number of different directions. Career advancement can include working with medical records directly, working as a liaison between healthcare providers and technology vendors, providing training, and becoming a supervisor. Career advancement requires both technical skills and educational knowledge, where a combination of online learning and on the job training can support ongoing career development. Attending seminars, participating in professional organizations, and engaging in ongoing training at one’s place of employment are all common practices among professionals working in electronic medical records fields.
Locations for Employment and other Professional Considerations
Electronic medical record professionals work in hospitals, assisted living facilities, treatment centers and a variety of other healthcare settings. Some online work is available in this profession as is the opportunity for travel. Trainers who work with technology applications may also travel to educate teams of coders on software applications. A variety of career paths are available based on interest and proficiency.
To compete for the most desirable jobs, a candidate must not only demonstrate solid skills and knowledge but also a dedication to the integrity needed to handle sensitive information. Additional skills that may be desired by hiring professionals include impeccable organizational skills, and the ability to utilize highly developed communication skills. Staying current with the technology in the field is also vital to long term growth and increased opportunity in this field.
For students and professionals interested in combining technical skills with a career in a health-related field, job openings in electronic medical records present a diversity of pathways for advancement. While entering the field with a two year Associate’s degree is common, a four year Bachelor’s degree is typically necessary to realize advanced job opportunities. Some employers, such as hospitals, private healthcare facilities, and governmental agencies provide tuition assistance programs and advanced in-house training, so time spent researching the best options for growth in this field is recommended.
Ongoing education is important to keep credentials current and to advance into leadership roles which might also require an advanced degree, such as a Master’s in Health Services. Acquiring education through a highly ranked and nationally accredited online or traditional university is important for securing the competitive edge and achieving the standardized body of knowledge necessary to pass credentialing exams.
With a strong outlook in the coming years according to the BLS, a career in electronic medical records can offer a wide range of opportunities and the ability to create a path that provides vital support services to the medical profession. This affords professionals in this field room to grow, travel, and stay on the cutting edge of technologies that are continually evolving.