Can I Earn a Technical Diploma for Medical Coding?

It is common sense these days to seek additional education. The old days of high-paying, low skill jobs will never return and a person has to learn advanced skills in order to succeed in the modern economy. Medical coding is often thought of as just a certification program. This concept is rapidly becoming old news as greater emphasis gets placed on more specialized education within the occupation. Is it possible to actually get a technical diploma, or is this a certificate only profession? The answer is very simple: yes, you can!

There are plenty of programs that offer degrees in medical coding and related areas, which can last anywhere from eighteen months to four years. Schools like Bryant & Stratton College and Stanford-Brown offer associate degrees, and a number of programs, such as Herzing University, also offer degree opportunities online and prepare students for various certification examinations.

AHIMA

The American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) is in the front ranks of those wishing to increase the quality of training given to medical coders, as they strive to make medical coding and health information management serious disciplines within the area of medical education. The Registered Health Information Administrator (RHIA) and the Registered Health Information Technician (RHIT) both require more than just successful completion of examinations. The former requires a baccalaureate degree and the latter requires associate degree, both of which must come from schools accredited by the Association. The AHIMA’s website also has a search engine to allow prospective students to find an accredited college program close by.

CAHIIM

The Commission on Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management Education (CAHIIM) has a stated interest in accrediting standards for coding education. CAHIIM goes a step beyond certifications and associate degrees by developing baccalaureate programs in health information management, and also graduate-level programs in health informatics and health information management. Accreditation through the commission is never a foregone conclusion, and schools must subscribe to very demanding standards to be accredited. The benefit is that the program then becomes a highly reliable source for health care centers looking for a competently trained individual.

Full Speed Ahead…

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The push for coding and health information management academic programs is not just for the sake of higher paychecks. Both the AHIMA and CAHIIM are very much aware of the strides being made in medical technology. The need for more concentrated and current education is there, and medical coding and information management needs to stay with the trends. A lack of a commitment to higher education will lead the profession to the same fate suffered by data entry operators; a once essential job that becomes obsolete over time.

Those who wish to increase their knowledge and want to take their professional image beyond just that of a certificate, are the ones looking for the diploma granting programs. It is beyond a doubt that as the profession becomes more specialized, there will be an even greater need for advanced education to support it. Anyone considering a career in medical coding or health information management may want to consider actively searching and applying for a degree program. The benefits in the short-run will be a better skill set, and in the long-run a more rewarding career.

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