This summer I had the pleasure of teaching 73 students in our Graduate Seminar course, which is generally the final course students take to complete the Master of Science in Health Information Management (MS-HIM) program. The course is the culmination of all of the students’ work during their time in the program. It is especially enjoyable to lead this course because it is both a rigorous academic experience, as well as a celebratory one.
Having completed my doctoral degree just last year, it wasn’t long ago that I was in their shoes, completing a degree and feeling all of the emotions that arise when coming to the conclusion of such an enormous undertaking – joy, pride, relief, fear, exhaustion, excitement, just to name a few! As I thought about that experience, I realized how important the process of reflection was for me as a student. I was required to reflect regularly throughout my time as a doctoral student, and although at first I perceived reflection as unnecessary (after all, I had just completed the course work, what was the point of reflecting on it, and who has the time?), over time I came to value, and even cherish it. Reflection gave me the opportunity to think deeply about a topic, draw connections between what I was learning and my personal experiences, and discover new insights about myself and the world around me. Given how busy we all are, many of us just don’t have the time to reflect on things. Yet reflection is critical to learning and personal growth and development – it is how you apply meaning to what you are learning, which is especially important for adult learners.
I realize now that being given the opportunity to reflect was a gift, one that I want to give to the students in our program. So, students in the Graduate Seminar course submitted a weekly reflection focused on their learnings from the week and how those learnings impacted them. It was so exciting to hear from each student regarding what they took away from the week’s course activities, and how they would use what they learned in practice. Many of them identified new areas of interest based on the course discussions, and indicated that they were inspired to research a topic more in depth on their own time. Often students acknowledged that their learnings and interactions with their classmates impacted them personally as well as professionally. Of course, what I learned from each reflection was valuable for me as the instructor, but more importantly, it was valuable for the students to be able to acknowledge their own development and identify how they will take what they’ve learned during their time in our program and apply it in a practical way.
Congratulations to all of our graduating MS-HIM students! I hope you continue to engage in the powerful practice of reflection as you make your mark on the HIM profession. And always remember….you are all Saints for life!