student-stories

Three Ways a UW HIMT Degree Opened the Door to a HIM Analyst Career

UW Extended Campus March 2, 2018
Chris Harrison posing with his wife and young daughter.

2016 alumnus, Chris Harrison, credits the University of Wisconsin Health Information Management and Technology (HIMT) bachelor’s degree for his first job in the booming healthcare field. Shortly after graduating, he landed the role of health information management analyst (HIM analyst) at UW Health in Madison, Wisconsin. For Chris, three aspects of the degree made his career possible.

1. Dual focus in management and technology

The 100% online UW HIMT bachelor’s degree is a multi-campus partnership between four UW institutions: UW-Green Bay, UW-Parkside, UW-Stevens Point, and UW-La Crosse. The degree is a dual-track program. Depending on their career goals, students choose a concentration in management, information technology, or both. Chris chose both.

“The HIM analyst job description had a broad list of requirements—from document imaging and database management and development to support—so the fact that I completed both the management and the technology track served me well,” says Chris. “I’m able to wear many hats.”

Chris manages data as an HIM analyst and indexes patient and provider records through the electronic health record (EHR). He’s also involved with ongoing analysis of Health Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) Stage 7 certification. According to HIMSS, achieving Stage 7 and maintaining that status, is a significant accomplishment. Since 2005, HIMSS Analytics’ EMR Adoption Model℠ (EMRAM) has tracked the adoption of electronic medical record (EMR) applications within hospitals and health systems across the U.S. Institutions work to complete the eight stages (0 – 7), with the goal of reaching Stage 7: an environment where paper charts are no longer used.

In his role as HIM analyst, Chris also supports frontline staff: “I’m out on the floor doing tech support, which is an added bonus. I get a great deal of satisfaction doing it. I’m really comfortable in the role, thanks to the tech track.”

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2. Preparation for RHIA certification

HIM analyst, Chris Harrison, UW-Green Bay

RHIA certification, one requirement of the UW Health HIM analyst job, is in demand at many healthcare organizations. RHIA stands for “Registered Health Information Administrator,” and only students that graduate from an institution that’s accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management Education (CAHIIM) are eligible to sit for the RHIA certification exam. All partner campuses of the online UW HIMT program are—or are in the process of becoming—fully CAHIIM accredited. With RHIA exam prep materials from the HIMT 489 Pre-Capstone course, along with some study tips from his UW HIMT network, Chris was able to successfully pass the exam.  

3. A strategic network

Many prospective students think there won’t be an opportunity to connect to their classmates, but actually, students form professional networks that last throughout their careers.

Chris said he made great connections but is especially grateful to both UW-Parkside Professor Betty Rockendorf and former Program Manager Wil Limp for their guidance along his journey to the degree.

“Betty was invaluable to me. She served as my mentor when I joined the Wisconsin Health Information Management Association student chapter, she gave me pointers for the RHIA exam and she was there for me when I needed career advice,” Chris said. “She’s well connected in Wisconsin and beyond. Both my capstone project and career search benefited from her connections.”

Chris thanks Wil for recommending he do both tracks of the degree; the additional expertise was a bonus, opening up even more job opportunities: “Wil spent a lot of time on the phone with me, talking about ideas, all the way until up until I graduated. I’m still in touch with him.”

Would you like to start a career in health information management and technology? Explore the UW HIMT degree. Contact an enrollment adviser at 608-262-2011 or via email at learn@uwex.edu.

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Programs: Health Information Management and Technology