The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

TR program offering training in fast-growing medical career

Students listen to a lecture in a health information technology classroom on the main TR Campus. Georgia Philips/The Collegian
Students listen to a lecture in a health information technology classroom on the main TR Campus.
Georgia Philips/The Collegian

By Ashley Johnson/tr news editor

Students searching for a career in the medical field might look into TR’s degree program in health information technology.

The HIT program moved from NE Campus to TR Campus in the fall along with five other allied health programs, said TR academic advisor Jessica Horton.

“The two most popular questions I get asked by students are ‘What’s hiring?’ and ‘What pays the most?’ My answer is health information technology,” she said. “Starting pay could be high $30s, low $40s as you build up tenure and credentials.”

Unfortunately, many students do not know the field even exists, Horton said. As a result, enrollment in the program is low and runs the risk of being shut down if there aren’t enough applicants, she said.

“We are really trying to promote this field. It’s a very hot field, and it’s well paying,” she said. “Not offering the program wouldn’t be ideal for this economy because this is where the jobs are, and you could be making some very good money within this field.”

The health industry is creating a large online database that will allow doctors from anywhere across the country to access patient information.

Horton said this will benefit patients if something happens while people are traveling or cannot give an account of their medical history.

Doctors will no longer have to contact patients’ primary physicians because their records will already be in the database, she said.

“The population is growing exponentially, which means you have more and more patients,” she said. “That means you need more people to maintain patient records and more people to maintain online patient records for the online database. That’s why this field is very hot.”

When someone visits the doctor for any medical reason, it has to be documented through the hospital’s health information technology department. Those employees process and code everything done in a day’s time within the hospital.

With the construction of this new national online database, people knowledgeable of the health information technology field are in very high demand, Horton said.

“Health information technology is a great way for students to get into the medical field without having contact with patients,” she said. “People who enjoy working on computers, coding puzzles and solving problems would be ideal for this profession.”

Catherine Wilburn, the operations manager for Cook Children’s Hospital, is a graduate of TCC’s health information technology program. She said the field of health information technology has exceeded her expectations.

“I’ve watched the field grow, and there are a lot more roles that a person can have because of the changes in health care,” she said. “For me, I’ve gone from a clerk to an operations manager now overseeing 22 employees.”

Another great thing about this field is its flexibility, Horton said. Because HIT is online based, many people do not have to work in an office.

“Mothers with young children that want a job where they can work from home can do that with a job in health information technology,” she said. “They will have to be able to commit to the full eight hours a day, so they can’t have too much distraction. But they do get to work from home.”

Assistant professor of health information technology Rennison Babulal said graduates from the program get the benefit of TCC’s well-known reputation. Health information managers in the Dallas-Fort Worth area prefer TCC graduates because they will get high-quality workers, he said.

“Graduates have an extensive background in anatomy and physiology, pharmacology and coding. Students get a good dose of all that which is in great demand,” he said.

The associate degree in health information technology students receive from TCC is different from the medical billing and coding certificates other schools give, she said.

TCC’s degree program gives students higher-level management credentials for higher positions.

“The degree gives them all the tools they need to really succeed in the field,” Horton said. “It will even allow them to take on supervisor positions within the hospital so they can have the chance for an even better income.”

Students who want to apply to this program need to be advised on TR’s main campus in the advising and counseling office. Health information technology will be a hybrid program in the future, so students won’t always need to go to the campus to take the courses, Horton said.

“Since the program is computer-based, making it a hybrid class tends to be a very easy progression for the program,” she said.

Horton said many students want a job in the medical field because of commercials they’ve seen. They ask her which program provides more job opportunities.

“I tell them health information technology,” she said.

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