Virginia Health Informatics
As Virginia’s medical industry continues its march into the digital age, huge volumes of patient and practitioner data are being created on a daily basis. The need has arisen for skilled information managers capable of collecting, cataloging, and distributing these vital and confidential records. The young field of Health Informatics has emerged to fill this void, providing hospitals, college campuses, correctional institutions, and large corporations with quick and effective data management services. These skilled professionals are in high demand across the state, thanks to their careful training and unmatched versatility.
Health Informatics Certification in Virginia
There are two currently recognized levels of education in the Health Informatics field. The easiest title to obtain is the Registered Health Information Technician (or RHIT) moniker, which is earned through colleges offering a two year Associate’s degree. Some schools also give students the option of attending for another two years, which results in the completion of a standard Bachelor’s degree. Such an accomplishment will earn the title of Registered Health Information Administrator (or RHIA) for its devotees.
Both of these classes earn their prestigious titles from the same place – the Commission on Health Informatics and Information Management. Usually shortened to CAHIIM , this group of industry insiders carefully monitors colleges across the country, granting their approval to only those who adhere to a strict set of standards. This exclusivity makes CAHIIM-certified graduates a highly prized commodity in the employment world.
Health Informatics Degrees – VA
Despite hosting such a high number of Health Informatics technicians, Virginia is home to only two schools offering CAHIIM-certified degrees. The first of this pair is the North Virginia Community College, which can be found in the city of Springfield. The other, Tidewater Community College, can be found in Virginia Beach. Both offer Associate’s level degrees with RHIT certification. Students with a desire to advance beyond the two year level will need to seek out an online school capable of meeting their needs. Other highly recognized programs are available as well that are not accredited by the CAHIIM.
Health Informatics Salary & Job Outlook – Virginia
As of May 2009, Virginia’s population of Health Informatics professionals was among the best compensated in the nation. Of the estimated 3,500 technicians operating in the field, the average hourly wage was reported at $16.61, with a annual take home pay of just over $34,500. Those just getting their start out of college can expect to start a bit lower, usually in the neighborhood of $12.64 per hour and just under $26,000 per year. Experienced professionals will see their wages climb all the way to $25.15 per hour, or just about $52,300 annually.
*Salary Data: Federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Earnings Statistics
Regardless of their income or level of education, all members of the Health Informatics field are eligible to join the American Health Information Management Association. More commonly referred to as AHIMA , this organization is dedicated to enriching the professional lives of their members. This is accomplished by providing news bulletins detailing the latest industry advances, and also through their regularly updated job boards. For a more in depth look at their offerings, users can visit their website at www.ahima.org.