Hodges University’s School of Allied Health has experienced a noticeable increase in applications for its health information technology program in the past year, which is good news for the community.
Enrollment in the program for the summer 2009 term has almost tripled, according to Dr. Carlene Harrison, dean of the College of Allied Health at Hodges. "We have seen a tremendous growth in students wanting to enter the healthcare field, especially in health information technology. With a majority of Hodges graduates remaining in our region after they receive their degrees, we’ll have many skilled healthcare professionals for our area," she said.
One of the reasons for this increased interest in health-related degrees is the aging baby-boomer generation. According to a recent U.S. News & World Report article, some of the best careers in 2009 are in the health care system.
“Healthcare employment growth will be driven by the increasing aging population and longer life expectancies of seniors. Physical therapists and physician assistants will be needed to care for this ever-increasing number of patients. Due to the increased need for care, there is a huge need for the behind-the-scenes people, which is one of the reasons why health information technology is exploding,” said Harrison.
Another reason for the popularity of these programs comes from the White House. One of the major elements in President Barack Obama’s economic recovery plan was for every clinician and hospital in the U.S. to deploy electronic health records.
"Healthcare information technology systems can save doctors' offices and hospitals significant administrative costs as well as prevent mistakes,” said Harrison. “Having highly-skilled workers in this field, from coding to data management to supervisory positions, should help mitigate rising health-care costs while improving the quality of care and reducing errors.”
According to Dr. Harrison, there are many career possibilities with a degree in the program. “Employment opportunities exist for the health information professional in any industry that utilizes patient data. Health information technology careers are found in a variety of settings including: healthcare facilities, consulting firms, government agencies, insurance companies, healthcare vendors, pharmaceutical companies, as well as many other environments. It’s a great career choice for prospective students to consider,” she said.
Hodges University is accredited by the Commission of Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) to award Associate, Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees, and its Health Information Technology program is also accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management Education (CAHIIM).
A recent report by the Bureau of Labor Statistics states that the healthcare industry was one of the nation's largest employers, responsible for over 13.5 million total jobs. Furthermore, the report noted that health care career opportunities are on the rise. Network systems and data communications analysts are occupations that are projected to grow the fastest over the next seven years. The healthcare industry as a whole is projected to grow by 18.8 percent, adding nearly 5.5 million jobs by 2016. More than three out of every 10 new jobs created in the U.S. economy will be in either the health care and social assistance or public and private educational service sectors, according to the bureau's Occupational Outlook Handbook.
Dr. Harrison says this is great news for those affected by the current economic downturn and are considering changing careers. “If someone has been considering changing their current career path, now is the time to give it a try,” she said. “It’s a satisfying and rewarding career that offers a host of opportunities helping others, and many of our students are finding this out.”
For more information about the health information technology program or any of the other programs offered at Hodges University, visit www.hodges.edu.