Health Information Technology program celebrates 50 years

by | Mar 25, 2021 | Foundation

It was a friendly but firm nudge from a supervisor at work that put Ashley Bullock back in school to finish her education. “My supervisor was very supportive of me and urged me to start the Health Information Technology program,” Bullock said. “It took me a while to complete the program as I was a full-time wife, mother, employee and student. It wasn’t easy, but it was one of the best decisions I ever made.”

Bullock, of Florence, earned a degree in the program from Hinds in 2011, as well as her Registered Health Information Technology (RHIT) certification. She works at the University of Mississippi Medical Center as a professional coding educator. Her Hinds experience has opened several doors for her along the way, as she’s gained vital experience in multiple areas of Health Information Management.

“Without the HIT program, I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to work in those aspects, such as performance improvement, compliance in both the professional and facility side, and medical staffing,” she said.

In 2020, the HIT program at Hinds celebrated 50 years in existence. COVID-19 didn’t stop program officials and former students from recognizing the milestone.

“We celebrated via our HIT Students and Alumni Facebook page,” program chair Michelle McGuffee said. “We shared information on the history of our program, old pictures, recognized faculty who taught over the years and had our students update us on where they are now. We have some excellent students who have had awesome careers with HIT.”

The Hinds program is a 22-month course of study, which leads to an Associate of Applied Sciences degree with a specialization in Health Information Technology. Graduates then sit for the RHIT exam. They do so after having received quality instruction in coding, medical reimbursement and billing and information technology in healthcare.

“The HIT program offers a fully online option so that students can complete our accredited program and earn their RHIT credential from the safety of their home,” McGuffee said, adding the program has grown to include some features to fit in with an industry already suited to the growing trend of working remotely. “HIT instruction includes new COVID-19 coding guidelines, COVID-19 contact tracing practices, and legal issues related to the privacy and security of Protected Health Information (PHI) for COVID-19 patients in public health monitoring.”

In 2020, the program also was reaccredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management Education (CAHIIM).

Bullock, who lives in Florence with her husband, Bobby, and their two children, values the experience the program provided and has found her niche in her current position. “I have found that my heart was and always will be with professional coding,” she said.