Leading the way to a bachelor's degree

February 26, 2018 | San Diego Community College District

Anyone looking to validate the San Diego Community College District’s standing as the region’s largest single provider of workforce training need look no further than the Health Information Management baccalaureate program at San Diego Mesa College. 

Connie Renda

Connie Renda, HIM program director and assistant professor, San Diego Mesa College

“The health information industry has become much more complex and involves a high degree of sophistication in properly managing a tremendous amount of data and keeping medical records protected,” said Assistant Professor Connie Renda, director of the Health Information Management program. “Medical providers in our region have been going outside the community to find registered health information administrators, so our baccalaureate program is playing a vital role in addressing a need and will be making a big impact.”

Expert Leadership

Mesa was the first community college in California to offer upper division classes that lead to a Registered Health Information Administrator (RHIA) certification under the state’s Baccalaureate Pilot Program, and Renda is well-suited to lead the effort. Her more than two decades of industry experience includes owning a health information management business and serving on the California Health Information Association’s Board of Directors. She works closely with medical centers and physicians groups in coordinating internships for students that can lead to jobs paying more than $80,000 annually.

“Our District as a whole has a lot of partnerships with industry that enable us to play an important role in developing our economy,” Renda said.

Dollars and Sense

The Mesa College baccalaureate program is among the reasons the District is fueling $3.7 billion in spending annually in the regional economy, an amount equal to approximately 1.8 percent of San Diego County’s Gross Regional Product and enough to support 46,431 jobs. Other successful workforce development programs include the Southern California Biotechnology Center at Miramar College; the San Diego Technology Incubator, which is part of the Center for Applied Competitive Technologies, at and Career at San Diego Continuing Education. The District’s track record of success has been vital in consistently securing state grants to build apprenticeship and job-training programs.

Moving Forward

The first cohort of freshmen in the Health Information Management program enrolled in fall 2015, and a second cohort of students who already had an associate degree enabling them to work as health information technicians were accepted the following fall. The latter group will be the first to graduate with their bachelor’s degrees from the program in May 2018.
“The current generation of registered health information administrators will be retiring within the next decade or so, which means there will be a very big turnover and even stronger demand in the near future,” Renda said.

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