Thursday, September 24, 2015

Network With Us!

Katie Kerr
Are you going to the American Health Information Management Association’s Annual Convention and ExhibitResearch shows that building and maintaining networks is associated with career success. Those individuals who are more engaged in professional networks are more likely to have higher salaries over time and be satisfied with their career (Wolff & Moser, 2009). So, if you’re attending next week’s conference in New Orleans, LA, stop by and network with us! Please come by the St. Scholastica booth in the exhibitor hall. Faculty and staff will be there, and would enjoy seeing all of you! Also, if you are an alum of the program or a current student, join us for the St. Scholastica HIIM Reception on Monday, September 28th, 2015 from 6:00 to 8:00p.m. at the Marriott New Orleans Studio 2, 2nd floor 555, Canal Street, New Orleans.

Reference: Wolff, H. G., & Moser, K. (2009). Effects of networking on career success: A longitudinal study. Journal of Applied Psychology94(1), 196.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Necessity is the Mother of Invention

Katie Kerr
Things are constantly changing in healthcare.  The HIM profession continues to morph, and we are continually looking for innovative ways to meet all the challenges we are faced with. Healthcare organizations and HIM professionals are working hard to meet all the requirements presented by change, leaving less time to host interns and mentor our students.  We see this as an opportunity to get creative with how we provide professional practice experiences for our students, in fact, our educational outcomes are potentially improved because of it!
One way the HIIM Department at CSS is meeting this challenge is through our “Virtual” Directed Practice, Professional Practice Experience. The virtual directed practice allows our students to have an internship in the virtual environment. We provide them with “hands on” EHR experience, access to recorded interviews with HIM professionals, and practice and discussion surrounding sample data sets in order to meet learning objectives. This provides our students with a consistent experience and we are able to ensure that they are learning the fundamentals of HIM in order to meet our learning objectives and the needs of the industry.

As HIM continues to adapt to new models of data collection and maintenance, we must continue to reinvent ourselves and how we do our work to ensure and promote improved clinical outcomes and patient privacy. As Plato said, “Necessity is the mother of invention” and the CSS HIIM Department will continue to find ways to achieve and meet the needs of our changing HIM profession! 

Katie Kerr, MA, RHIA
Assistant Professor, HIIM
Academic Coordinator of Professional Practice Experiences

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Vivat St. Scholastica!

Greetings from the College of St. Scholastica!

Ryan Sandefer
I love the beginning of the new academic year. There is energy on campus that is palpable. Faculty, staff and students approach the new term with renewed interest, vision, and enthusiasm. The beginning of the year provides a clear reminder that we are a community with a shared mission and vision. At St. Scholastica, all faculty and staff gather to kick-start the academic year with a focus on the College’s Values. The College is guided by five values from the Benedictine Heritage:  Community, Hospitality, Respect, Stewardship, and Love of Learning. Each year the College focuses particular attention on one of these values, and this year we are celebrating the value of Community, which is described as:

Sharing responsibility to create and support community;
Creating a climate which promotes a sense of community while valuing the uniqueness of the individual;
Manifesting an ability to adapt to circumstances without compromising our values.

During this year’s all-faculty/staff gathering, Christopher Wheat, a current student in St. Scholastica’s MS HIM program who lives in Chicago, IL, presented on how the College’s community has impacted his experience. His comments centered on the power of using innovative course design, individual attention from staff and faculty, and attention to different learning styles. His remarks demonstrated the power of how engaged faculty, staff and students—regardless of the learning format—can be transformative for students.

The Health Informatics and Information Management Department is committed to promoting the sense of community that Christopher described. We aim to promote a community of learners within the classroom, but we also strive to create a strong sense of community among students and alumni as individuals navigate their professional careers. This is no easy task. It requires creative and adaptive curriculum, community outreach, social media engagement, and commitment from all parties involved.

I wish you all the best this year. Please stay in touch, and remember,

Vivat St. Scholastica!


Friday, August 21, 2015

Advancing Your Degree or Getting That New Certification – Don’t Fear it! You Can Do It!

Danika Brinda
Advancing a person’s education can be an exciting time, but comes with many challenges, fears, and anxieties.  The thought of obtaining a new certification or an advanced degree that may take 2-4 years or more, may be a challenge that not everyone is willing to accept; however, the benefits an advanced degree can have on one’s personal and professional life can be life changing!  Don’t let the fear of the unknown or challenge deter you from reaching your life goals!  Getting outside of your comfort zone is where most of the growth we experience happens!  

Starting off on a PhD journey, I knew the road wasn’t going to be easy and would require a lot of time and dedication.  This meant less time with my family, and many hours in the basement office trying to figure out what I was doing, how I was going to finish this assignment, and how I was going to write a dissertation.  What I wasn’t prepared for was how I was going to schedule studying into my already full life as a full-time faculty member, a mom of 2 small girls, and a wife!  Figuring out how to get back into learning mode was the most challenging of the entire process.  I was challenged with moving from the role of a teacher into the role of the student.  I remember sitting down in the beginning of the program staring at the computer wondering why I decided this was a good idea and how on earth was I going to be successful.  The good news is, through dedication, late nights, lots of coffee, and a support group, I was able to successfully complete my goal of earning an advanced degree – and so can you! 

Being successful in any program requires planning, time, support and dedication.  Here are some helpful tips and tricks that I learned from my PhD journey:
  • Plan ahead – make a check list, buy a planner, do whatever you need to do so can proactively plan your schedule based on your course requirements. 
  • Focus on small steps – if you try to look at your journey as a whole it can be overwhelming and discouraging.  Set small goals for yourself so you feel accomplishments along the way!
  • Celebrate along the way – don’t wait until the end.  Little successes along the way can provide you with the motivation needed to keep pushing forward.
  • Share your experience with your friends and family – talk about where you are and what you have to do, and share it on social media (if you use it).  Encouragement is so helpful to keep motivated.
  • Realize that not everything will be perfect – be okay with accepting a lower grade or submitting a paper that may not quite meet the high standards you have set for yourself.  Busy lives sometimes prevent us from being ‘perfect.’ Do your best and be grateful for the grades you earn and the knowledge you have gained!
  • Ask for help – don’t be afraid to ask someone for help with family life, kids, parents, reading a paper, or whatever obstacles you are facing. 
  • Enjoy some ‘you’ time – it is ok to take a break to refresh and get back into the groove.
  • Don’t give up – even when you are at the lowest point and you are not sure how you will continue on, take a deep breath and don’t quit!  You can DO this!
  • Surround yourself with a good support group – linking up with others going through the same program can help when you have to reach out for support and need someone who understands what you are going through.  A solid support group with family and friends is essential for successful completion of a new degree or certification. 
Please remember, not every semester, class, or assignment will be perfect.  It is okay to not be 100% all the time – this was a tough lesson for me to learn, but so important.  As long as you give it your best, learn the information, and meet the expectations, you have succeeded.  Strive for your goals and reach for the moon.  You have the ability to do anything you set your mind to!  I am leaving you with my favorite quote – reading it every day helps me set the mood to be successful on days where it seems like the sun will never shine!

“I want to remember that no one is going to make my dreams come true for me… it is my job to get up every day and work toward the things that are deepest in my heart…and to enjoy every step of the journey rather than wishing I was already where I want to end up.” – Unknown Author

Danika Brinda, PhD, RHIA, CHPS, HCISPP
Assistant Professor, HIIM

Sunday, February 15, 2015

A New Year’s Resolution for Health Information Management

Brooke Palkie
The December 10th 2014 publication of the article Missed Opportunities? The Labor Market in Health Informatics verifies what many of us in HIM have predicted – a healthcare industry still not fully understanding HIM skill sets. The article identifies a current shortage of health informatics professionals due to several technical changes within healthcare. The article points to the EHR, “big data”, and new regulations as the fundamental changes that have re-shaped the roles involved with the collection, handling, and processing of protected health information (PHI). However, these roles have been at the core of the HIM profession for many years. Although the article acknowledges the functions historically held by HIM professionals, one blaring misinterpretation is made of the newly required hybrid skills of health informatics. In one instance the article identifies a clinical analyst role as a combination of an RN and an IT technician. Although there is most certainly an increase in the complexity of the newly emerging informatics positions, the HIM professional is already strategically aligned with the healthcare knowledge to successfully fill these identified gaps. So how do we do this you ask? Educate, educate, educate! We must continue to join forces to properly articulate the skills and qualifications possessed by the broad range of HIM professionals. More importantly, we must continue to improve our skills to align our qualifications with industry needs. For educational institutions, we must provide opportunities for professionals to build on current credentials to promote job advancement.  On the other hand, HIM professionals must be committed to meeting this demand by seeking out educational and career advancement pathways. We must not take a back seat to this job shortage dilemma. Let this be the year to leverage the health informatics opportunities! 

May the New Year bring you health, happiness and success! 

Brooke Palkie
Associate Professor, HIIM
The College of St. Scholastica

Missed Opportunities? The Labor Market in Health Informatics
December 10, 2014

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Band on the Run!

Madonna LeBlanc
While the CSS HIIM department attended AHIMA’s 86th Convention and Exhibition, Paul McCarthy performed in San Diego at PetCo Park and the song ‘Band on the Run’ surfaced on my mental playlist. Once I plotted what we did, where we went and who we’d seen, the song became a veritable anthem for four action-packed days of excitement.

Sunday found me, along with the MHIMA delegation’s CSS alums Laura Blabac, Kristi Lundgren, Jean MacDonell and Christina Wallner, in the House of Delegates. Among other topics, one particular focus was ICD-10, using Twitter and Facebook to connect with Washington legislators and to engage others to join us in the AHIMA #ICD10Matters campaign en masse; the room was rumbling with energy.

Sunday also was a full slate of CSS faculty and alum team speaking engagements: Ryan Sandefer and Katie Kerr; David Marc and alum Megan Munns and Beth Just; Ryan and Ellen Shakespeare. And Sunday’s trifecta had our second AHIMA Student Advisory Council student representative, Kate Gray, presenting at the Student Academy. Kudos to all!

Monday’s 2014 TriumphAwards were exhilarating as multiple CSS alums received recognition: Megan Munns, RHIA, Rising Star Award; Dr. Joanne Valerius, MPH, RHIA, Educator Award; Patricia Shaw, MEd, RHIA, FAHIMA, Literacy Legacy Award and Susan Scully, MS, RHIA, CCS, CCS-P, Mentor Award. Brava, brava to all! “Medical advances in in technology” was renowned cardiologist, geneticist and researcher Eric Topol’s fascinating keynote address.  Several faculty attended the Assembly on Education/Workforce luncheon regarding strategies for teaching our students the soft (human) skills that prepare them for success in the work place. The evening had us gathered with over one hundred CSS alumni at our reception with School of Health Science Dean Dr. Ron Berkeland, and Lisa Roseth, Executive Director, Alumni Relations. Vicki Zeman was recognized for her years of service to the HIIM department as she prepares to retire at the academic year’s end. One highlight of the event was San Diego HIM MS alumni Connie Rendas’ inspirational story she shared of her intention of “just getting an online degree” and leaving CSS with that, plus a treasured relationship with members of the Monastery. She ended her witness with a generous contribution to the department and encouraged others to join her gifting. Connie returns to campus multiple times a year simply to bask in Benedictine hospitality and visit her fans.  The HIM undergraduate seniors were introduced and warmly received as well.

Tuesday evening, HIM graduate student, John Mashiklan, received his award from the AHIMA Foundation for the 2014 National Convention e-Poster Contest; his poster theme was ‘Web Database Design with EHR integration for Hospital Hospitality House.’ Congratulations, John! We ended the evening with the Appreciation Celebration at PetCo Park featuring KC and the Sunshine Band and a 70’s theme, complete with beautiful weather.

Wednesday, Janelle and I were able to hear CSS alums present in their areas of expertise. Cheryl Stephens discussed the impact of HIEs on public health and Rita Bowen and Alisha Smith’s EHRs and information governance.  No doubt there were more CSS alumni on the speaker roster for the convention that are not listed here; there’s regrettably never enough time to take in all there is to do, see and hear. At the convention closing, Rob Lowe shared his moving story of why he stepped up to be the first male representative for the Stand Up to Breast Cancer having lost his mother, grandmother and great-grandmother to the disease.

Next year the festivities commence in New Orleans…I’ve already got ‘When the Saints Come Marching In!’ in my mind’s eye, complete with a meandering jazz band in tow. Calling all Saints; see you there!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Leadership Development - Arizona Campus

Pam Oachs
On September 22-23, 2014, the first educational workshop was held at College of St. Scholastica’s Arizona campus. Merida L. Johns, PhD, RHIA held a Leadership Development Program for area healthcare leaders. The workshop was titled, Be the Leader You Are Meant to Be: Are You Up for the Challenge?  Dr. Johns is the founder of The Monarch Center for Women’s Leadership Development, and she hosted a group of 20 health information management (HIM) professionals. This workshop focused on the Leadership Development model developed by Dr. Johns and can be found at

AHIMA’s Reality 2016 initiative encourages the HIM professional to lead, evolve and grow through continued education and professional development.  Stay tuned for more events at the Arizona Campus and all St. Scholastica sites.