Each year, The College of St. Scholastica (CSS) selects one of the Benedictine Values as a focus and the value for the 2016-17 school year is “Love of Learning”. During our professional practice experience course and senior seminar course, I ask the undergraduate students to reflect and discuss how they can live these values in their personal and professional lives. In those reflections, many students talk about these values being “human” values and broadly applicable, not limited to the Benedictine community.
So, how can we live the Love of Learning?
- Volunteering - There are endless opportunities to give your time and learn in the process. Working pro-bono for a non-profit allows us to learn about a cause and to do good for others. I am excited to be volunteering at Feed My Starving Children in a couple weeks with my daughters. I love to garden and have learned so much from volunteering as a member of my local garden club. Volunteering for a professional organization allows us to network with others in our field, which can lead to job growth and advancement. I have thoroughly enjoyed volunteering for the MN Health Information Management Association. Helping to plan the annual meeting, speaking, and serving as the Coding Key Focus Area co-chair has allowed me to meet so many great people and expand my knowledge in many areas of the HIM profession. I have really encouraged our students to get involved in their state HIM associations and volunteer while still in school. You just never know what doors may open to you!
- Attend a workshop or conference - Whether you are looking to learn about something specific to the field you work in or want to learn how to make homemade soap, there is plenty to be gained by taking time to dig into a topic. AHIMA holds their national convention each fall. I think it has always renewed my excitement for the work that I do. There is something inspiring about sitting in a room with hundreds of other professionals listening to the organization’s president talk about the year’s accomplishments and the future of our association.
- Massive Open Online Course - Take a course through a MOOC offering. You can take courses at Harvard, through a company like Coursera or CSS. CSS has offered several MOOCs on topics such as anatomy and physiology, health data analytics and SNOMED CT. If you are a member of AHIMA you can also earn CEUs and one of the best things about taking a MOOC through CSS is that they are free! You will learn something and you could tell everyone that you took a course at CSS (or Harvard)!
- Serve on a committee - Have you ever considered what you could learn by serving on a committee? We often have so much on our plates already at the workplace that it can be easy to sit back and avoid engaging. Maybe you’ve wondered why your workplace does things a certain way? It might also be possible that you see opportunities for improvement at your place of work? The next time an opportunity arises to join a committee that can impact change at your workplace, jump on the opportunity!
- Pursue a degree or certificate - As crazy as that may sound, it is a reality for the students enrolled in the programs of the Health Informatics and Information Management Department at CSS. Whether these students are seeking a change, advancing their knowledge, or starting a new career; they have taken the leap. A year and a half ago I joined them, jumping in to begin a doctoral program in leadership in higher education. There are many days where I question this decision in the context of my hectic life, however, I love learning and growing my knowledge. The last year has taught me so many things about higher education. One of the best parts of this new journey has been learning from others working in higher education and all of their experiences. I have gained new friends and have a wonderful support system as I work through the program.
- Listen to your colleagues and network - We can learn so much from each other! It’s a simple concept, but I learn so much from my colleagues on teaching, working with students, and the healthcare industry. I invite a lifestyle coach to talk with our students each spring about professionalism and networking. She shares that the intent of a networking event is to build relationships with others, connect people you may know to each other, to stay current on industry trends, and to learn from others. At the AHIMA national convention and at the MHIMA annual meeting, the CSS HIIM Department hosts a social hour where current students and alumni can come together to network (and eat). As faculty we are able to catch up with alumni and meet our online students face-to-face and one of the best things is that we can connect people and provide them with an opportunity to meet their colleagues and network.
I hope I have inspired you to consider how you can live the value of Love of Learning. It is a trait I hope to instill in my two daughters as they grow up, and an excellent value for the College of St. Scholastica to embrace this year!