Wednesday, November 30, 2016

A Busy, Thankful November at CSS

CSS Veteran's Q/A Panelists
The HIIM Department has had a busy November! Around the holiday, faculty volunteered for meal prep at the annual CSS Thanksgiving Feast hosted at the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center (DECC). We had the pleasure of breaking bread to make stuffing with the high school honor students from Two Harbors. The meal served over 5,000 area residents in need.

Earlier in the month, the traditional HIM senior students hosted the Northeastern Minnesota Health Information Management Association (NEMHIMA) Region B Meeting. This annual event on campus brings together HIIM professionals from around the area. Participants are able to network and earn CEU’s toward credential maintenance. This year, the educational line-up helped to generate a full house! Topics such as Computer Assisted Coding (CAC), Clinical Documentation Improvement (CDI), innovation in healthcare strategies, breakthrough technologies from GEOCOM Inc., Bridge to Health Survey Results, and Interdisciplinary Collaboration in Healthcare rounded out the agenda. One noteworthy theme from this event is the inclusion of the Veteran population. Being November, the month that honors all veterans on Veterans Day, it was very fitting to learn that, for the first time, the Bridge to Health Survey included veteran specific health questions to help identify the unique health needs of this population. 

The College is also taking steps to focus on the unique needs of the Veteran population. The CSS Nursing Department received an INVITE grant to both assist veteran students achieve their desire to become baccalaureate prepared nurses, and to support college-wide faculty and staff in developing opportunities to support veteran at all levels and in all programs. The grant has also allowed CSS to offer of a new interdisciplinary course: Interprofessional Veterans Health. This course has been developed to help break down the silos of healthcare specialties so students can learn together on how to best care for the Veteran population, as the students begin to transition to the workforce. Several School of Health Sciences programs joined the collaboration with Nursing, including HIM! The traditional senior HIM students had the opportunity to collaborate with both faculty and students from these programs to begin the process of identifying obstacles and areas of common ground in order to become more efficient and effective in understanding the needs and providing the best patient centered care for this population. 

In collaboration with the course, the HIIM Department hosted a very unique Veterans Q/A Panel. The panel participants (Elizabeth Palkie, Dean Mooney, Jon Brown) were veterans with unique experiences and talents. Each provided insight into their experiences, values, and knowledge of the veteran population. One of the panelists, Jon Brown, provided an overview of the VA System to help students understand how they can help support veterans in the healthcare industry even if do not work directly for the VA. We were very grateful for the time and effort the panelists put into the event and we are very thankful for their service.

Hoping everyone had a hearty and relaxing Thanksgiving!

Brooke Palkie, RHIA, EDD
Associate Professor, HIIM Department – The College of St. Scholastica

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Alumni Profile - Sue Powell

Name: Sue (Klejeski) Powell

Year of Graduation: 1991
Current Employer: Nuance Communications, Inc.
Position: Federal Healthcare Program Manager



What are your current job duties and how did your education at The College of St. Scholastica prepare you to be successful at those duties?

I currently manage the contract and client relationship for a revenue cycle software and professional services solution my team provides to the Department of Veterans Affairs. Additionally, I’m also involved in business development and process improvement. Quite a variety of tasks!

In addition to the top-notch HIM education I received, I think what best prepared me during my time at St. Scholastica is the Benedictine Values of Community, Hospitality, Respect, Stewardship and Love of Learning. These values have guided my life and career and prepared me well for taking on the world after college.

What do you remember best about taking HIIM classes at The College of St. Scholastica?

How much I hated learning how to code by using a book! I also remember fondly the class where we had to design the layout of a HIM office – it was fun but proved that I would never be an interior designer. Finally, I’m probably the only one ever that loved going to cadaver lab.

What topic in HIIM do you find most interesting/inspiring?

I find the rapidly changing technology the most interesting part of HIM. When I graduated from CSS there weren’t many, if any, technical tools for doing your job. Over the course of my career, we’ve gone from not even having email (I had to snail mail or fax my first resumes) to really amazing technology like speech recognition and natural language processing - technology that is constantly changing and improving and making healthcare IT an exciting field with tons of opportunity.  It’s a great time to be in HIM despite the challenges within the healthcare industry.

What one piece of advice would you offer to current students?

Make sure you become active in volunteering for your profession – at any level. This is the one thing that has made the most significant impact in my career. It gives you the opportunity to expand your network, learn about what’s going on in the industry and gives you the opportunity to discover and showcase your talents.  In my opinion, it is by far the best thing you can do to be successful in the world of HIM.

What hobbies do you enjoy? 

Hobbies? I’m a hockey (and dance, lacrosse and soccer) mom so there isn’t much time to do anything else!

What is your favorite travel destination? 

I travel a lot for work and I always enjoy going to a new city and learning as much as I can about it while I’m there.


Tuesday, October 4, 2016

The Love of Learning

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!

~Katie Kerr

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Student/Alumni Profile - Rachel Hendrickson

Name: Rachel Hendrickson, RHIA

Current Employer and Position:

Community Memorial Hospital- Cloquet, MN
Clinical Informaticist (December 2015- present)

Program/Degree/Anticipated Graduation Date:
Health Information Management, B.S. Degree, Spring 2012
Health Informatics, M.S. Degree, Spring 2017

Why did you choose The College of St. Scholastica’s HIIM program?

I chose The College of St. Scholastica’s HIIM Program because it offers a diverse curriculum of courses and prepares students for a wide array of careers. The HIIM field is always evolving, and The College of St. Scholastica’s HIIM Program ensures that students are educated on relevant and exciting topics through hands-on experience.

What is your favorite part of taking HIIM classes at The College of St. Scholastica?

My favorite part of taking HIIM classes at The College of St. Scholastica is the flexibility that the program allows. I completed the majority of my undergraduate HIM degree in the classroom, but as a working professional, I am now able to take the courses needed to complete my Masters degree in Health Informatics entirely online.

What topic in HIIM do you find most interesting/inspiring?

I think that data analytics is one of the most interesting and exciting topics in HIIM. Data can significantly aid in healthcare decision making, and there is a growing need for professionals who can successfully analyze data. Health Information Management and Health Informatics professionals are a great fit for roles in data analytics.

What advice would you give to someone considering entering a HIIM Program at The College of St. Scholastica?

If you are looking to get into an exciting and challenging field and want to learn from an exceptional group of faculty members, look no further than the HIIM Program at the College of St. Scholastica.
What hobbies do you enjoy? 

I enjoy traveling, reading, cooking and attending live music and theater.
  
What is your favorite travel destination? 


My favorite travel destination to date has been the study abroad trip I took to India while obtaining my undergraduate degree in HIM from the College of St. Scholastica. 

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

On Reflection

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!

~Amy Watters           

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Student Profile - Scott Lawson

Name: Derek “Scott” Lawson
Current Employer and Position (If any): Stay at Home and Grad Student
Program/Degree/Anticipated Graduation Date:
Master’s in HIIM Class of 2019

Why did you choose The College of St. Scholastica’as HIIM program?

I chose CSS primarily because I wanted to learn from the place that wrote the book on HIIM and is still the leader in the industry.

What is your favorite part of taking HIIM classes at The College of St. Scholastica?  

One of my favorite things about the online HIIM program is its’ flexibility, and the passion the faculty and staff show for their students.  You really get a sense that St. Scholastica wants to continue to churn out high performing graduates. 

What topic in HIIM do you find most interesting/inspiring? 

I initially would’ve said coding, but the more I’m learning the more I’m becoming interested in implementations as well as compliance.

What do you see coming on the horizon for HIM? 

The horizon is so huge for HIIM, even with Meaningful Use stage three being shelved, eventually these things will all be completed.  This field is only going to continue to grow and evolve towards a more effective use of the technology we have. 

What are your goals for after you earn your HIIM degree/certificate from The College of St. Scholastica?  

My goals are to pursue a career path that will ultimately lead to directing either a compliance department at the corporate level or to work in implementations.  I would also enjoy teaching part time and potentially utilizing my knowledge of broadcasting and communications to do a podcast. 

What advice would you give to someone considering entering a HIIM Program at The College of St. Scholastica?  

The biggest thing I would tell someone is to be involved and don’t be afraid to ask questions.  Everyone from the advisors, OneStop, and the professors are incredibly prompt and very thorough at answering any question you might have. 

What hobbies do you enjoy? 

I love spending time with my three sons, and I’m also an avid sports fan.  I’ve been a Tennessee Volunteers fan all my life, and while I may bleed orange, now that I’m a “saint” my heart is just a little blue and yellow.  I love Nascar racing, hockey, spending time with my wife, playing golf, fishing, and just trying to have fun. 

What is your favorite movie? 

My favorite movie is a three way tie between The Godfather, We Are Marshall, and Hoosiers. 

What is your favorite travel destination? 

I love the Gulf Coast, particularly once you get into Florida. 



Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Health Care Inequality

The Declaration of Independence states that “all men are created equal.”   While this statement may be true philosophically, the reality in the United States remains far from that truth, as evidenced by our health and our health care system.  Health care differs dramatically in quality, accessibility, and cost based on an individual’s race, physical location and/or insurance coverage (or lack thereof).

The differences in health opportunities begin long before birth. Early health outcomes depend on prenatal care, among many other variables.  A baby’s health in the womb and as a child depends highly on the parents, school system, and community.  Choices made during pregnancy can have long-term effects on a child’s health.  For example, if a mother chooses to drink during pregnancy, her baby may be born with fetal alcohol syndrome.  If parents feed a child a diet high in sugar and fat, then the child has a greater propensity to develop diabetes or obesity related health problems later in life.  

Similar challenges persist into adulthood. Although much of an adult’s health status relates to individual choices, some beneficial options are much easier to come by than others.  One current issue affecting the country is the number of people living in food deserts, areas where it is challenging to buy healthy foods including fresh fruits and vegetables.  Such a lack of healthy food choices can contribute to obesity, diabetes, and other chronic health issues.  

These health disparities exist throughout the U.S, as where a person lives can predict health and longevity. Traditionally, health status in southern states ranks statistically lower than the rest of the country. Health can also vary dramatically by race and ethnicity, for example groups like American and Alaska Natives see serious disparities in health and health care coverage in comparison to the general population.  Simple factors like background and geographic location tie directly to profound impacts on health outcomes.

Conversely, the U.S ranks number one in the total amount spent on health care.  Yet, despite our high level of spending, we do not score well in regards to traditional indicators like infant mortality, life expectancy, and chronic disease rates.  The country that leads the world on these indicators is Japan. Contributing factors to Japan’s success include a more equal distribution of income, universal health care coverage, focus on primary care, and a strong sense of community. So what prevents this country from improving?

Many people remain unaware of the quality of health and healthcare in other countries, while others feel our health care system and our population are so unique that we cannot learn from contrasting models.  Much can be gained from a more open approach, like when Taiwan needed to develop a health care system. Their leaders looked at the systems in other countries and cherry-picked the best parts of each.  Interestingly, many countries with leading health indicators share a common factor in that their income range is smaller.  With a narrower spread in income as a determinant, does a more equal distribution of wealth lead to a higher level of health?

Community will always be one of St. Scholastica’s core values from the Benedictine heritage.  This connection can be physically felt on campus, and our online students feel the communal strength as well.  Can this core community impact our health?  Can it be used to strengthen and broaden an individual’s perspectives on how to impact change?  We need to continue to contribute to the discussion and challenge ourselves.  All of the Benedictine values support acceptance and equality, and the onus is on each of us to examine our daily work and life to find ways to impact and eliminate these inequalities.  

~Beth Fait