Frequently Asked Questions

FAQThis list of questions and answers will assist you in answering any questions you may have after you have visited our website regarding the programs offered.


What programs are offered in Health Informatics and Information?

Answer: There are two programs offered in Health Informatics and Information (HIIM): Medical Coding and Reimbursement (MCRS) Program which is a 15-month (5-quarter) certificate program, or the Health Information Technology (HIT) Program which is a is a 2-year associate degree program. >


Are these HIIM programs accredited?

Answer: The Health Information Technology Program at Shoreline Community College is Accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Health Informatics and Information Management Education (CAHIIM). It is one of only three HIT programs in the state with this accreditation. The others are at Tacoma Community College and Spokane Community College. The Medical Coding and Reimbursement Specialist Program is approved by the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA). It is the only AHIMA approved program in Washington state.


Where do I find a list of courses for programs offered?

Answer: On the program website at Curriculum there is a list of courses for both full and part time students.


Is there a formal application process to enter the HIIM Programs?

Answer: Yes, completion of the online HIIM Application and submission of this via mail along with the application fee of $15.00 and official copies of your transcripts are necessary to start the application process. If you have taken the COMPASS test for math placement and placed higher than MATH 080, Elementary Algebra, submit a copy of the COMPASS test scores along with your application packet. The application period typically opens in January and goes until approximately April 15 each year.


Are there HIIM Program Prerequisites for English, Math and Computer Literacy?

Answer: Yes. Students must have completed MATH 080, Intermediate Algebra I, ENGL& 101, English Composition, and BIOL&170, Human Biology upon receipt of the program application. Students must be computer literate, with keyboarding skills at a minimum of 30 words per minutes, work within a PC Windows environment, do word processing with MS Word, send and receive emails with attachments, and have basic internet skills  prior to applying to the HIIM Programs.


Can I apply to the HIIM Programs before completion of prerequisites?

Answer: No. Students must have completed MATH 080, Intermediate Algebra I, ENGL& 101, English Composition, and BIOL&170, Human Biology upon receipt of program application. Students must be computer literate, with keyboarding skills at a minimum of 30 words per minutes, work within a PC Windows environment, do word processing with MS Word, send and receive emails with attachments, and have basic internet skills prior to applying to the HIIM Programs. No student will be considered unless all prerequisites have been met at the time the HIIM program application has been received.


Do I need to meet with an advisor prior to applying to a program?

Answer: No. It is advised for potential students to speak to an advisor either by phone or in-person prior to applying to a program or shortly thereafter. If your last name begins with A-L contact Ellen Cadwell at If you last name begins with M-Z contact Gloria Anderson at For general information contact Judy Proffitt, Secretary for the Health Occupations and Physical Education Division at 206-546-4743 or at


I have previous college/university experience; will any of those courses transfer into the HIIM programs?

Answer: Your advisor will evaluate your transcript(s) to see whether your previous college courses will transfer into one of the two HIIM programs. To be considered for transfer to Shoreline Community College, the courses must have been taken from a regionally accredited college or university through the Higher Learning Commission including Middles States, New England, North Central, Northwest, Southern, and Western. For example, Shoreline is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities. Go to Curriculum for further information.


If I am not accepted into the HIIM program yet, can I take HIIM courses?

Answer: Yes, there is a list of courses you could take while waiting to enter the program on our program website here.


Are classes online or face-to-face?

Answer: All classes in both the HIT and MCRS programs are 100% online, except for some program prerequisites. If you need any prerequisites, and if they are not available online at Shoreline or elsewhere, please check with your local colleges for an on-campus course near where you live or work. Some colleges have these pre-requisite courses available online. Please note, for students interested in taking a few on-campus courses, may find Human Biology, English, Accounting, Computer Applications, Excel, Access, Human Relations, and Multicultural Understanding courses are available on campus as well as online.


Since the programs are offered online, are the classes self-paced.

Answer: All the HIIM courses are offered online only and each course is comprised of a class schedule, deadlines, and various processes that must be completed by those deadlines noted on each course syllabus. Some aspects of the online course, e.g., lecture notes, may be read at your own pace. All online classes function like a traditional face-to-face setting which progress week-to-week, with lectures, reading assignments, quizzes, and projects according to scheduled due dates.


I have worked in the health field and have work-related knowledge.  How do I receive credit for that experience?

Answer: There is a challenge exam available for HIIM 134 Medical Terminology for those individuals, including health care professionals, who believe they have equivalent knowledge and need not retake this course again.  The exams are $10 per credit, and if the individual passes the exam, he/she will have the course listed on his/her transcript as a credit course completed with a Pass grade. Please contact HIIM Program Director, Ellen Cadwell at for additional details if you believe you qualify. Please note: The HIIM 134 Medical Terminology Challenge exam may be taken either at the Shoreline campus or at a remote location as long as there is an approved proctor available.  


Some currently practicing health care professionals, including nurses, may possibly have pharmacology and human diseases courses waived; this will be determined by the HIIM Program Director after review of appropriate transcripts and discussion with the applicant.


For those working in the HIM departments, you may discuss that experience with your Shoreline HIIM advisor and decisions will be made on a case-to-case basis to determine if any classes might be waived,  based on that experience. There are also coding challenge exams as well for those wishing to be exempt from any of the coding courses.


I already hold a credential such as a CCA, CCS, CCS-P, or CPC and would like to enter the HIT program, what courses would I be exempt from taking?

Answer: Decisions on which courses may be waived based on a student being credentialed or having work-related experience, will be evaluated by your Shoreline HIIM advisor on a case-to-case basis. 


Can I attend either part-time or full-time in either program?

Answer: Yes, you can attend either part-time or full-time in either program. For example, a part-time student in the Medical Coding and Reimbursement program could go two plus years instead of 15 months. A part-time student in the HIT program could go three years instead of two. We do not encourage students to longer than these time frames as it would be harder to remember previous course work when taking the national credentialing exams.


How will I know which courses I should take each quarter?

Answer: Once your application, application fee, and transcripts have been received, and you have noted whether you would like to be part-time or full-time in a program, your HIIM advisor will create a detailed curriculum plan outlining the courses you are to follow each quarter. This curriculum plan must be followed to stay on track in the program.


How much will it cost to attend a program at Shoreline Community College?

Answer: Read the information regarding costs (tuition) for attending the HIIM programs at Shoreline Community College at Estimated Costs. This page includes tuition rates for both in-state and out of state tuition. The Registration contact information is 206-546-4611 and they are located in room 5200.


What are the credentials in the health information management (HIM) field?

Answer: To have a better understanding of all the credentials available in the HIM field, go and


Why should I get certified after I complete an HIIM program?

Answer: AHIMA notes, Certification is a means for showing that a credentialed professional possesses the knowledge and skills necessary for the optimal performance of his or her job. Through credentialing, the practitioner's employer, peers, and the public are reassured that he or she is both competent and well-informed in the daily and accurate administration of his or her professional duties. Certain professions (for example doctors, lawyers, technicians, and others) require that the individuals be certified, owing to legal or safety reasons or high professional standards. Whatever the reason, credentialing makes a professional a trustworthy and likelier candidate for gainful employment and career advancement.


Who administers the national certifying exams? 

Answer: These are developed by AHIMA at For those who have successfully completed the HIT program at Shoreline Community College, they may take the AHIMA certifying exam and those that pass it will become Registered Health Information Technicians and can place the RHIT credentials after their names.


National certifying examinations are developed by AHIMA and conducted each year by an outside testing agency under contract with AHIMA for entry level general coders (Certified Coding Associate - CCA) and experienced general coders (Certified Coding Specialist, CCS) or those specializing in physician office coding (Certified Coding Specialist - Physician's Office, CCS-P). Those who successfully pass these examinations can place the appropriate credential after their names.  Additional certifying exams for privacy and security as well as for health data analysts are also available through AHIMA.


The American Academy of Professional Coders has a number of credentials: Go to their website at for additional information. 


How do I best prepare for the national certifying exams?

Answer: Both AHIMA and AAPC publish a wide variety of books, journals, tapes, CD-ROMs and other materials related to health information management. These are used by faculty and students in the education process. Visit AHIMA at


AHIMA and AAPC present a variety of seminars and workshops related to the profession. These are attended by program faculty in order to obtain information that is then relayed to the students. Students are also welcome to participate in these seminars as desired. Because the profession is changing rapidly with the advent of new information technology, changes in the practice of medicine, new laws related to the profession, etc. it is critical that all HIM professionals attend continuing education programs when possible. This will also be expected of HIT graduates when employed in the field. 


How do I purchase my textbooks for online courses, especially if I live out of state?  

Answer: To view textbooks and possibly additional material for your course(s), go here.

Students may purchase textbooks from Shoreline Community College bookstore or from other vendors; however, purchasing textbooks from other vendors may result in delay of availability of textbooks by the start of the course. For out of state students, a small shipping charge will be added for those purchased from Shoreline Community College. 


Students taking the HIIM 134 Medical Terminology course must purchase the Online Learning access code. This can either be purchased together with the textbook (bundled) or separately if a student already has the textbook. Students taking CIS 105 Computer Applications from Shoreline should also purchase the textbook here because they bundle additional material with the books.


What type of computer hardware and software will I need to attend an HIIM program?

Answer: The student's personal computer should be recently purchased within the last few years. The computer should have a built in microphone and speakers or the student can purchase them at a cost of roughly $5-30.  In lieu of speakers and microphone, the student can use a headset. The PC must have current software to work with online technology such as Windows 2010.  A Mac will not work with some Virtual Lab software programs unless it is a new computer with access to Windows. The Virtual Lab is best viewed at a screen resolution of 1024 x 768.  CD-ROM to use disks that accompany some textbooks. USB Ports and several thumb (flash) drives. Students should factor in printer, extensive printer paper usage, and ink cartridge costs.


For network access, broadband internet or DSL line access is required instead of dial-up. External wireless access may not work with some of the special lab projects if the strength is insufficient. Web-browser access is needed using the current version of Internet Explorer. Other web-browsers may be utilized such as Google Chrome, Safari, and Mozilla Firefox. Of note, depending on the online technology multiple browsers may be needed as some browsers may not work with the AHIMA Virtual Lab projects. AOL browser does not work with Shoreline's online software. If you have AOL, you will need to utilize another browser as noted above. Firefox may be needed for certain AHIMA applications. Active X will need to be enabled when working with the Virtual Lab.


Canvas is the software that Shoreline Community College utilizes for its online classes. It is advised that once students have applied and registered for classes, they should complete the Canvas tutorial located on the college's website. A current version of Java running must be running on the computer. Go to their site for a free download. The student should download Skype  (free software) to communicate orally via the computer with instructor and/or students in Health Care Information courses. Microsoft Office 2007 or newest MS Office is advised. All courses utilize Microsoft Word and not Microsoft Works or other word processing systems. Visio 2007 software will be required in HIIM 225 Computers in Health Care and several second year HIT program courses. You can obtain a free 30 day download of the latest version from Microsoft at the point in the course when you need to use it, or purchase it directly from them.  


E-mail access is required. Students are required to use a Shoreline Community College email in for all correspondence with the college. The student can go to the college's website for instructions on how to set this up. 


The latest version of Adobe Acrobat Reader (free - used for viewing PDF files) and Citrix (Citrix-Presentation Server Client Package) is required software for use of the Cerner electronic health record software program. It is free and can be downloaded to a student's computer. Instructions will be given to students regarding this at the time it is needed for specific classes. It is not available in the campus student computer labs. Macromedia Flash Player (free for viewing Macromedia Flash movies) and Windows Media Player (installed by default on PCs but some facilities have them disabled) are needed. Firewall and virus detection software are critical to protect your computer files.


May students use on-campus computers?

Answer: Students who live near Shoreline Community College may utilize the College's computer rooms on campus to participate in the HIIM program. Students who live outside the Seattle area, without a computer, may utilize computers at a local library; however, those typically have time constraints and may not have adequate software to enable full participation in online courses.


What are the requirements for Professional Practice Experience (PPE) for the Health Information Technology Program?

Answer: There is one Professional Practice Experience (PPE) course for the students in the Health Information Technology (HIT) program. Prior to placement in HIT practicum sites, HIT students are required to write a resume, sign the Professional Standards Agreement, and obtain a physical examination including a TB test at their own expense. Students will be required to obtain, pay, and pass a Criminal Background Check. Students who do not pass this check may have difficulty finding clinical practice sites for their internships and may possibly not be able to complete their program. Some may find difficulty in employment if they cannot pass this check. Most sites require current immunizations. Students will be assigned, when possible, to sites at their preferred geographic areas. However, due to the volume of students and limited number of sites, it is very probable that students may be required to travel to areas outside their preferred locations. Students are expected to provide their own transportation to and from clinical sites. Additional expenses related to Permit and Parking Instructions or bus travel and appropriate professional work clothes should be anticipated.


HIIM faculty will take the lead in clinical practice site placements for students living in the Puget Sound area.  Students living outside of a 30-mile radius from school campus will be required to locate their own sites in coordination with the HIIM Program faculty. Please contact the HIIM Program Director for more information regarding these placements.


Is there a clinical practice or outside internship for the Medical Coding and Reimbursement Specialist Program?

There is no separate clinical practice or internship course for students in the Medical Coding and Reimbursement Specialist Program. HIIM 228 Medical Coding Practicum is the equivalent of this activity, but instead of going to a clinical site, the student will be required to code 50-100 real medical records which will be available through Blackboard.