Home  |   Subscribe  |   Resources  |   Reprints  |   Writers' Guidelines

E-News Exclusive

2023 HIM Career Path Update

By Darice Grzybowski, MA, RHIA, FAHIMA

What great opportunities exist for HIM professionals seeking a new career path! Traditionally a graduate of an HIM college program had a choice of entering a traditional health care environment role such as a coder, release of information tech, tumor registrar, transcriptionist, or manager (as well as a variety of other specialist roles). Alternatively, they could enter what was called a “nontraditional” role, which typically meant working in an alternate setting such as ambulatory care or longer term care, for a pharmaceutical company, or even for a software or other type of sales-oriented corporation.

Both of these choices still exist, of course, but the scope and sheer number of different types of jobs available in both those settings have not only dramatically expanded, but additional work setting possibilities have arisen in droves.

Some examples of newer jobs in the health care setting include compliance and privacy officers, COVID tracking and data specialists (side impact of the pandemic), EHR quality control and audit, remote staff supervision, inpatient and outpatient clinical documentation integrity specialists, IT clinical applications educator, and patient advocate.

Examples of newer nontraditional jobs include expanded roles in sales associate, pharmaceutical research, software development, marketing/product management, customer support technicians (due to growth of clinical applications and electronic documentation), natural language processing developer, paralegal specializing in documentation and coding in malpractice cases, genome researcher, blogger, independent living case coordinator, and many more.

Even within both the traditional coding and transcription work paths, specialization has begun, whereby employees may work in just one specialized area, such as on oncology cases or radiology documentation. In combined roles, a staff person may do both coding and clinical documentation integrity work within the scope of a position, especially in smaller organizations where this may be the norm vs the exception due to limited resources.

In a nontraditional environment, a faster progression to a leadership position may be possible for those who wish for a more entrepreneurial or management opportunity.

In clinical environments, an emerging trend is for HIM professionals to go on to get social work, nursing, doctorate, and other educational add-ons to supplement their already vast experience.

Trained, experienced, and credentialed HIM professionals are in great demand and able to step into so many job roles in part because of the shortage of qualified individuals. HIM labor shortages have existed for the past 30 years and have only been worsened by the pandemic.

Another other factor is the training and experience HIM professionals bring to the table. They are one of the few groups of clinical staff that are equally educated in revenue cycle management processes and are IT savvy at the same time. Additional legal, compliance, EHR, data, and record archival knowledge and skills make HIM professionals ideal for many different jobs.

Many resources today have advanced to make it easier for job seekers to network and identify open positions. These include the social media site LinkedIn, search sites such as Indeed, as well as national professional organizations such as AHIMA and their components state association job boards. Other related organizations such as the American Hospital Association, American Medical Association, HIMSS, and Healthcare Financial Management Association represent many opportunities for learning about employment opportunities, even within those organizations as well.

Trade publications can provide both ideas and opportunities, and networking opportunities, including webinars or in person education, and provide access to job forums and boards. Even a social gathering such as an alumni event may present good networking opportunities, as can volunteering at various events.

Whatever path you choose, consider the possibilities carefully and be sure to review the responsibilities, location, life-work balance, pay, growth opportunities, size of the company, and type of environment and people you want to learn from, and consider how they may match your own personal career goals.

— Darice Grzybowski, MA, RHIA, FAHIMA, is president of H.I.Mentors, LLC. She can be contacted at info@himentors.com.