Health IT hottest career trend for college graduates

Healthcare information technology is the hottest career option for college graduates, according to a new trend study from the University of California San Diego Extension.

The study, which was based on enrollment figures, national employment statistics and interviews with San Diego business executives, lists 14 careers that are believed to be top choices for recent and midcareer college graduates in this recession.

Thanks in part to government initiatives health IT is advancing, the need for technicians to keep medical records organized and confidential is also growing, the study says. Emerging jobs such as healthcare integration engineer, healthcare systems analyst, clinical IT consultant and technology support specialist will all require technicians.

"Jobs and needs in the healthcare information technology field are a critical component of plans for positive change in the healthcare industry," said Mary Walshok, associate vice chancellor of public programs and dean of UC San Diego Extension, in the study.

Typical coursework in health information technology includes medical terminology, anatomy and physiology, health data requirements and standards, clinical classification and coding systems, data analysis, healthcare reimbursement methods, database security and management, and quality improvement methods.

"Several factors – a growing industry with vast employment needs, a societal concern with federal backing for broad reform, and a solution incorporating advanced knowledge and skills among workers – combine to form a strong base for workforce development and employment opportunity for the coming decade," said Mark Cafferty, San Diego Workforce Partnership president and CEO, in the study.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook (2010-11 Edition), medical records and health information technicians held about 172,500 jobs in 2008, and this number is expected to grow much faster than the average, seeing an increase of 20 percent or more.

"The increasing use of electronic health records (EHR) will continue to broaden and alter the job responsibilities of health information technicians," the handbook reads. "For example, with the use of EHRs, technicians must be familiar with EHR computer software, maintaining EHR security, and analyzing electronic data to improve healthcare information. Health information technicians use EHR software to maintain data on patient safety, patterns of disease, and disease treatment and outcome. Technicians also may assist with improving EHR software usability and may contribute to the development and maintenance of health information networks."

Click here to read the full report.

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