MECC Health Information Management Program Earns National Accreditation

HIM Student Amber Wallace and HIM Instructor Sabrina Ward

(Left to Right) Student Amber Wallace and HIM Instructor Sabrina Ward


Big Stone Gap — Mountain Empire Community College’s Health Information Management (HIM) Program has earned national accreditation with CAHIIM, the Commission on Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management Education.

MECC launched its Associate Degree of Applied Science in Health Information Management Program in 2013 through an initial grant through HRSA, Health Resources and Services Administration. The program has maintained consistent enrollment, with more than 40 program graduates thus far. Graduates of the HIM program are eligible to sit for the Registered Health Information Technician certification offered only by the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA). 

To achieve accreditation status, institutions must develop a program that meets the professional curriculum content and the quality of the program as measured by the American Health Information Management Association Academic Standards. Program administrators must ensure that the program is sustainable per its resource and needs assessment. The program must be developed to ensure stability professionally and financially. The HIM program at Mountain Empire Community College is the only accredited program for HIM in Southwest Virginia.

In addition, CAHIIM accredited programs must have a program director and at least one full time faculty who have earned the professional certification of Registered Health Information Administrator (RHIA). Program Director Nora Blankenbecler and Instructor Sabrina Ward have earned and maintain RHIA status and together have led the effort to apply for national accreditation through CAHIIM. The HIM program is governed by an advisory committee consisting of health information and health informatics leaders from regional hospital networks, a national healthcare software company and ambulatory care practice administrators.

“Accreditation of the HIM program at MECC demonstrates the focus we put on our students and the success they are looking for in their careers,” said Blankenbecler. “The program has already had a significant impact that has changed students’ lives.”

Health information management is the practice of managing medical information and data vital to providing quality patient care, sound fiscal management of medical resources, and data governance that support confidentiality of protected health information. Management of this data includes acquisition, analysis, and protection of digital and traditional types of information.

“The award of CAHIIM accreditation status provides assurances to the our students and employers that MECC meets high quality standards in the production and delivery of its Health Information Management Associate Degree program,” added MECC President Kristen Westover.

For more information on MECC’s Health Information Management program, visit or call Nora Blankenbecler, Program Director, at 276.523. 2400 ext. 241.

For more information on MECC or the Title III grant, visit the college’s website at or contact the college’s Office of Public Relations at 276.523.7480.