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What Can You Do With a Degree in Medical Records If You Want to Work With Patients?

by Beth Greenwood

If you have a degree in medical records, also called health information management, there are a number of options for careers that involve patient care. Some occupations require further education, which can range from a post-secondary courses through a master’s or doctoral degree. Your choices could depend on the degree you have already earned and most will require further training.

Allied Health Occupations

Several allied health occupations require a post-secondary training certificate rather than a degree, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Dental assistants, EMTs, paramedics, licensed practical nurses and massage therapists complete training courses that usually last one year but, in some cases, may take considerably less time. State requirements for licensing, certification and continuing education in these fields vary by state. Your health information degree may contain courses that meet a portion of the training requirements in some of these fields, such as medical terminology.

Become a Nurse or Sonographer

For careers in which a minimum of an associate's degree is necessary, your current degree might help you meet prerequisites or electives while educating yourself for your new career. Registered nurses and diagnostic medical sonographers, for example, can enter the profession with an associate degree. Familiarity with medical record management and medical terminology are useful in both these occupations. Registered nurses must be licensed in all states and certification is optional. Sonographers usually hold a professional certification in lieu of a license, but some states require a license, according to the BLS.

Accelerated RN Programs

If you hold a bachelor’s degree in health information management you could enter an accelerated program to become an RN. Designed for people who already have a bachelor’s degree in another field, accelerated programs allow you to complete a bachelor’s or even a master’s degree in nursing, according to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing. The AACN reports that an accelerated bachelor’s degree can take as little as 11 months and a master’s program can be completed in three years. Either program meets RN licensing requirements.

Medical Assistant

Medical assistants are unlicensed support personnel in physician offices and clinics. Medical assistants can be trained on the job in most states, according to the BLS. Training programs are also available from community colleges and technical-vocational schools. Your health information degree should include topics similar to those in medical assistant courses, such as medical terminology, anatomy, physiology, health care coding and reimbursement methods. If you can find a physician who is willing to hire and train you, switching careers immediately can be possible. Once you have some experience, you could take the certification exam for medical assistants.

About the Author

Beth Greenwood is an RN and has been a writer since 2010. She specializes in medical and health topics, as well as career articles about health care professions. Greenwood holds an Associate of Science in nursing from Shasta College.

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