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According to an article in the Toronto Star (May 25 2013), two of the top 10 job vacancies in Canada are managers in science and information systems, and managers in health care – a perfect match for the Health Information Management (HIM) professional.

Image of a sign, hanging askew, that says Job Openings.We know from the sector study report, that the demand for qualified HI/HIM professionals was (and continues) to grow; this report in the Star has confirmed it (although couched in different language). There were discussions within the article as to whether there is a shortage of labour, or rather just a mis-match of skills needed and available resources.

That of course is always the issue: do you retrain existing staff to meet new needs, or do you hire people that have those skills? If you retrain, which skills do you focus on, what is the benchmark for competency, how long are the training programs, and many other valid questions. It is these types of issues that CHIMA will face as the specialty certifications are developed and deployed; will the certifications come fast enough to meet employer needs? Do employers know what skills are required and how they can be attained? Will employers support employees in obtaining these skills, whether through financial support or in time off to take courses? Where will these new jobs and new skills be needed – everywhere? Only some types of facilities? Governments only?

One of the assignments for first year HIM students in the CD-ED program, is to find job postings in Canada in which the HIM skillset is a good match. The proviso: the position cannot be as a classifications specialist/coder. It is important for the HIM professional-in-training to be aware of the wealth the opportunities that have opened up for the HIM professional. While it is acknowledged that many of the positions they identify include a requirement for several years of experience, the key point is to reinforce that HIM is not one career. HIM is a host of careers under one title.

I have been impressed with some of the roles that the students have found: from positions as privacy analysts at the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, to program leads for community based information projects and membership on vendor IT project teams doing implementation of telehealth systems in remote areas. What has been fascinating is that very few students have identified positions within hospitals. I have pondered this; is it that hospital postings visible to the public are traditionally the entry level positions and therefore a student wouldn’t see relevant non-coder positions? Or is that the types of positions that require HIM skills are now much more likely to be found in non-hospital based settings? Whichever is the answer, I am pleased that students find these positions, and can recognize there are many paths into the future.