Finding a Career in Health Information Management

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Working in healthcare was always the plan for Alaiya Melton. Ever since she was a kid, she envisioned herself being a doctor or a nurse. But after starting college, she realized a change was necessary.

Melton originally went to school to study radiography at Ball State University. While she was still passionate about healthcare, she quickly realized direct patient care wasn’t for her. So, she began researching different career paths.

She found Indiana University Northwest, close to her home in Hobart, Indiana, which had a Health Information Management (HIM) program. Melton knew some of her peers going there and was familiar with the campus since her sister graduated from IU Northwest in 2019.

“I always knew I wanted to work in healthcare, I just didn’t know what aspect,” Melton said. “I started researching radiography and I tried doing that until I was like, ‘I can’t. I got to figure out something else.’ That’s when I found HIM.”

Many people in Melton’s family work in education, but she had a cousin who has a degree in health administration. Melton talked to her about the work she did, and it piqued Melton's interest. Health information, essentially, is the business side of healthcare. While Melton respects the jobs doctors, nurses and other professionals in healthcare do working directly with patients, non-patient-facing jobs seemed like a better fit for her.

She still had a passion for healthcare. She still wanted to make a difference.

For those looking to work in healthcare but don’t feel like they’re in the right job, Melton suggested looking at your options. She started with a web search looking for “non-patient-focused jobs in healthcare.” It helped lead her to a career she doesn’t plan on leaving anytime soon.

Careers in health information combine medicine, information management and technology to acquire, analyze and protect patients’ medical information. Many new graduates start their careers as analysts or coders. All the technical aspects of health information sounded great to Melton, as did the career benefits.

“I looked into HIM … and I fell in love with it,” Melton said. “A lot of professionals do have flex hours, so you’re able to pick your schedule. I want to work remote, I want to pick my schedule.”

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Melton couldn’t help but grow a little envious of people working from home while she was working in retail at a mall. She was ready to find a job to set her up for the rest of her life.

Jumping into a thriving career field that pays well and allows her to work from home? Health information checked all the boxes.

And Melton made it her priority to stand out.

Through IU Northwest, Melton and one of her classmates applied and received internships within the Community Healthcare System working in the patient financial office. It was an opportunity Melton couldn’t pass up. Not only did she see what the day-to-day of working in health information is like, but she hopes it will help her land a job when she finishes her bachelor’s degree in 2024.

“It was extremely important,” Melton said of connecting her educational experience with the professional experience of her internship. “I was able to use my knowledge from those classes and put it toward my current work. My boss is an HIM graduate, as well. So, I was able to go to her with any questions I had, and it really helped me love my job even more.”

While Melton takes her academics and future career seriously, she also recommends undergraduates to have fun in college, mentioning the various on-campus activities IU Northwest offers for its students. She also suggested getting close to your classmates; you never know when one of your peers can help you find a job in the future.

“Working in this profession and working with people who understand health information management, I love it,” Melton said. “I won’t go back to anything else.” 

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