Marciel Pedrals, 53, knows a thing or two about turning lemons into lemonade. When the economic downturn resulted in lay-offs at the Fortune 500 company where she worked as a marketing executive, she was ready for a career change. The growing industry of health care seemed like a promising option, and she found Saddleback College’s health information technology program during a web search. She was inspired, and the fact that the program was accredited and more affordable than other colleges helped her make her decision. She submitted her application to Saddleback College and quickly confirmed she had made the right choice.
For those interested in health care, health information technology, which helps health care providers better manage patient care through the secure use of electronic health records, is a smart move. Consider the numbers: In the Southern California region, job growth in the health technology field is projected to grow 30 percent over the next 10 years. In Orange County alone, there were 1,596 jobs reported in 2015, an increase of 6.68 percent in two years. And the opportunities keep coming.
Marciel, who secured a full-time position as a biller and coder in a surgeon’s office before graduating from the program, said, “Our professors are always receiving requests because there is such a need for people with these skills. They are able to tailor the program to meet the needs of local business who are looking for health information technology professionals.”
Safiah Mamoon, health information technology department chair and program director, says it’s little wonder that so many local businesses ask for more Saddleback-trained students, who are motivated, intelligent, and flexible, and serve as ambassadors for the program during their required externships to gain experience in the field. “We get calls from companies that say, ‘Send us five more from Saddleback!’” says Mamoon.
The program’s national accreditation gives students yet another edge: Saddleback is one of only 14 colleges in the state to offer an accredited program in health information technology.
Paul Robles, 27, was impressed from the start by the caliber of his classmates. “Students in the program are well-educated and see the potential of the industry.” Paul, who graduated with a bachelor’s degree in history from the University of California, Merced, was interested in pursuing a position that merged his interest in health care with his information technology skills.
After completing an externship at Fountain Valley Regional Hospital, where he worked in the health information technology management department, Paul found a full-time position in a private practice where he works with electronic health records and serves as a liaison between clinical and information technology personnel.
He appreciates that his instructors check in with him frequently, a difference from when he graduated with his bachelor’s degree. “Here the instructors get you ready for what’s next – they check your resume, conduct practice interviews – they really gear you up to get a job. They know you’re here to start a career, and they help you get there.”
Shadi Einolyaghin, 31, agrees. “Our instructors help you discover the opportunities available in the field – whether it’s management, coding, or compliance. You get the chance to explore different areas and discover what you like.”
Shadi moved to the United States six years ago after earning a bachelor’s degree in tourism in her native Iran. She worked in a doctor’s office, where she learned about Saddleback’s occupational skills award in insurance and coding. She then moved on to the health information technology program, where she is now in her fourth semester and works in medical billing at a cardiologist’s office after completing her externship in the medical records department at Saddleback Memorial Hospital.
Marciel, Paul, and Shadi believe the quality of the program and their formal training gives them an edge over their colleagues who have worked in the field for several years. As stated by Marciel, “The knowledge I’ve gained in my classes and labs make me a resource; I’m able to answer patients’ and colleagues’ questions because of my training.”
The Health Information Technology Associate in Science Degree Program
The health information technology degree prepares students for employment as a health information professional with the knowledge and skills to accurately code diagnosis and procedures for the health care services provided to patients, and to collect, maintain, and analyze health care data in paper on digital formats that physicians, nurses, and other health care staff rely on to deliver quality health care.
Earning the associate in science degree in health information technology will enable students to gain entry-level positions in the following areas:
- Coding/revenue cycle management
- Health information management clerk
- Medical office manager
- Patient care coordinator
- Patient registrar
- Practice management
- Insurance biller
- Insurance claims clerk
Facilities employing health information technology professionals include:
- Ambulatory care centers
- Physician offices
- Long-term facilities
- Dialysis centers
- Public health agencies
- Pharmaceutical companies
- Medial supply companies
- Rehabilitation centers
- Managed care organizations
- Behavioral and mental health facilities
- Law firms
- Insurance firms
For more information on the health information technology program, contact the division of health sciences and human services at (949) 582-4701 or visit www.saddleback.edu/hs/HIT.