Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Olympic Reflections

The Olympics have just passed, and there was plenty of talk around the water cooler during those weeks. We can't believe all of the heartwarming stories that surround the Olympics, as participants had to overcame history, obstacles, lack of funding, and many other barriers to success. The hard work, dedication, and grit that these incredible athletes endured to make it to PyeongChang was incredible. We were cheering on those that are competing from our own neck of the woods; curlers (gold medal for Team Shuster!), biathlon, hockey players (gold medal for Maddie Rooney!) and cross country skiers (gold medal for Jessie Diggins!). The HIIM department felt that we needed to get our students in the Olympic spirit and decided to have a mini-Olympics of our own. We had four stations that involved trivia, paper airplanes, a hockey shot, and a set of jumping jacks. You'll have to believe me, it was a race to the finish! As you can tell in the picture below, fun was had by all.

Now our senior, traditional students have embarked on their own ‘Olympic Trials’ of sorts as they are out on their professional practice experiences across the state and country. Just like the Olympians, they have been preparing for four years to hone their skills, push their limits, and are ultimately ‘going for the gold’ that is graduation. We know that they'll represent their training center well as they wrap up this time in their career and move onto a bigger stage. We are all very proud of our HIM Olympians – Go Saints!

~Janelle Wapola

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

CSS HIIM Loves Learning!

One of the Benedictine Values that guides us at the College of St. Scholastica is Love of Learning.  The idea that I subscribe to this value is probably unsurprising given that I teach at a college, but when I think about learning in the broader sense the necessity of ascribing to the love of learning becomes very clear, particularly in the Health Information Management profession.

In my opinion, you can’t be a Health Information Management professional without committing to lifelong learning. We work in an environment that is constantly changing - from new technology, to new public policies, to new healthcare innovations - and HIM professionals serve as the lynchpin to all of those very complicated elements.  We are the ones who share the information, guide the decision making, and forge relationships so that our organizations can succeed and our patients can safely access the care they need.  The only way to do that is to continually learn – to learn about the changes that are happening in the healthcare environment, to learn about the people around us and the culture of our organization, and to learn about ourselves and how we must evolve to meet the demands of this dynamic profession.  With all of that learning going on, I can’t imagine pursuing the HIM profession if you didn’t love to learn.  

At CSS we’re always challenging ourselves to find new ways to teach and to learn.  Offering free online education through our Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) is one way we demonstrate our commitment to Love of Learning.  So, if you’re looking for a way to stimulate your mind and keep lifelong learning a priority in your life, I encourage you to take one of our MOOCs.  Right now we have two active MOOCs: Leading Effective Project Teams and Ethical Leadership.

Lifelong learning impacts an individual’s health and well-being.  Those that are regularly engaged in learning live happier, healthier, more social lives.  So, never stop learning – you’ll be better for it, and so will the world around you.

Click here for more information on our MOOCs.

~Amy Watters

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Alumni Profile - Christina Snaza

Name: Christina (Wallner) Snaza, MS, RHIA
Year of Graduation: 2007 & 2017
Current Employer: Allina Health (Minneapolis, MN)
Position: Senior Business Analyst, eHIM

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?

As a Senior Business Analyst, my primary responsibilities include providing support in the analysis, documentation, and project planning/management associated with enterprise applications that impact or integrate with the HIM teams at Allina Health. I also serve as a liaison between our Information Services (IS) department and end users to resolve workflow or functional questions and issues. 

The education I received at the College of St. Scholastica greatly enhanced my project management, communication, and critical thinking skills. My position also requires basic report writing and data assessment, so the knowledge I learned from the health informatics and analytics courses will be extremely helpful. Overall, the HIIM program has played a key role in my success and growth as a professional in this field.

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

I had many wonderful experiences in both the undergraduate and graduate programs, but some of my fondest memories come from my interactions with the faculty and staff. Their support and encouragement have helped to shape and foster my passion for the HIIM profession!

What is most rewarding about your work in HIIM?

Over the last ten years, I have had the good fortune of working in a variety of HIIM roles. Each has allowed me to work collaboratively with other departments and clinical professionals to help ensure the accuracy, integrity, and protection of patient data and health information.

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

Be engaged and take advantage of networking opportunities! While you might initially feel like a small fish in a big sea, you’d be surprised to find how closely connected individuals are in this profession. It is important to build strong relationships, whether it is with a classmate, coworker, or fellow volunteer.

What hobbies do you enjoy?

Having just graduated, started a new job, and gotten married, I am ready for life to slow down a bit! In general, I like to spend time with friends and family, cook/bake, exercise, travel, and attend concerts and sporting events. I am a HUGE Vikings, Gophers, and Wild fan! And while I don’t quite consider it a hobby yet, I have come to enjoy running and have participated in a few 5K’s this past year.

What book are you currently reading for fun? 

"Natural Disaster: I Cover Them. I Am One" by Ginger Zee

Friday, February 2, 2018

Kicking off 2018

January in Duluth! For some it is a time to stay indoors and be cozy, maybe a time to catch up on some reading; some take this as a time to be outdoors and play in the snow. Duluthians enjoy hockey, skiing, snowshoeing, snowmobiling, even watching the John Beargrease sled dog race! My colleague Janelle and I recently enjoyed a beautiful winter day on nordic skis in the Northwoods.

Enjoying the winter with Janelle 
Another reason for excitement at this time of year is that it is the final semester before graduation for many of our students. They are completing professional practice experiences and reflecting on what they have learned in the field and throughout their coursework. They are completing final courses in research, data analytics, and alternative care settings. Many of the students are completing site visits at places such as an eye clinic, a correctional facility, a rehabilitation center, a community health center, and a free-standing urgent care center. They are learning about the variety of areas where a health information management (HIM) professional can add value to the patient experience.

In addition, they are refining their resumes, honing their interview skills, practicing professionalism, and preparing for the RHIA exam. Yet, despite the many hours (and years) of studying and preparation, students have concerns. What will the future hold? Where will I find my first job? Will I be prepared? Will I make enough money to pay my student loans? It is both an exciting and anxious time.

As faculty, we are energized at this time of year as we experience the intellectual and professional growth of our students over the next few months. We are confident in their ability to join the workforce and make a difference. We know they will be prepared to join our HIM alumni and colleagues. As our students begin seeking employment over the next few months; faculty, students, and employers alike can be assured that these graduates are capable, passionate, and ready to learn and contribute to the HIM profession. Let’s welcome them as they begin their futures!

~Pam Oachs

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Alumni Profile - Jennifer Robertson


Name: Jennifer Robertson Year of Graduation: 2016
Current Employer: Essentia Health
Position: Quality Data Coordinator

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?

My current position involves collecting Quality and Infection Prevention data from various sources, analyzing the data for accuracy and trending, and presenting the data in an a clear, understandable and actionable format. As I am new to my position as of this year, I am still learning the scope of my responsibilities, but I am intrigued and motivated by the challenge of understanding where the data is coming from and how I can best assist with people’s comprehension of it. The College of St. Scholastica really prepared me for this position by teaching me to exercise my independent critical thinking skills with a broad understanding of the health care field and health care administration.

What is most rewarding about your work in HIIM?

I am very grateful to be working at Essentia in the Quality department as I feel that the HIIM work that I do will really have an impact on how the organization functions as well as for patient outcomes. Our team huddles every morning for a few minutes, and every morning I am proud to say that my “target is zero preventable harm,” which means that I work every day to do my part to reduce the chance of preventable harm from occurring to our patients and our communities.

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

The HIIM topic that I find most interesting/inspiring is data visualization. Currently, I create most of my reports in Excel, of which I’ve learned a great deal about since starting at Essentia due to my daily application of it. Excel is a wonderfully adept tool that I can’t imagine working without. However, I am hoping to be able to broaden my data visualization skills even further by gaining experience with software tools that are specifically designed for data visualization.  

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

I guess my biggest piece of advice for students is not to worry a great deal about what specific position you will get right out of the program. It is very good to be aware of the many opportunities afforded to a HIIM graduate, but at the same time, don’t pigeonhole yourself into a specific route. HIIM is a wide field of possibilities. So perhaps, instead of advice, I would rather leave a challenge to current students…Go out and prove to whatever area that interests you just what the HIIM profession is all about!

What hobbies do you enjoy? 

My favorite hobby is to walk my dogs in the woods, where they can run off-leash and I can get lost looking at the trees or for agates. I also like creating yearly digital picture books with our family pictures. I am a few years behind, but I like the creative outlet, and I love going through the memories with my kids.

What book are you currently reading for fun?

The books that I am currently reading for fun are the bedtime stories that my 9-year old daughter and 4-year old son pick out at night. Life if full, but it sure is fun!

Friday, December 22, 2017

Looking Back at 2017, a Few Highlights

The end of the year brings the opportunity to reflect on the success and progress made over the previous months. Here in the Department of Health Informatics and Information Management, we have many reasons to celebrate and spread cheer this year.

We will share a couple of our biggest highlights from this year, and remember that you can keep up with our goings-on by visiting our Facebook page, or finding us on Twitter and Instagram as @CSSHIIM.

In order to better serve the needs of our students and the industry, we launched a redesigned Post-Baccalaureate Certificate in HIM program, which was featured on the CSS Sentinel blog here. All of our programs are under constant review to ensure that we are providing the most valuable information to our students, in order to help them to meet industry expectations. A perfect example of how this focus on relevant material and information has benefitted our alumni is displayed in a feature article on alumna Rachel Hendrickson, which you can read here. We are proud to say that the educational opportunities that students have at CSS continue to be a differentiator as students move into or continue their professional roles.  

One of our biggest achievements of 2017 was the combined LaTour-Eichenwald Forum and 20th Anniversary of the Masters in HIM celebration in October. On Friday evening, three members of the original graduating class spoke in a candid and entertaining panel discussion, as Madonna LeBlanc, Karyn Mikel, and Letha Stewart recapped their educational and career paths. Their reflections showed industry expertise, humor, and a deep connection that is shared by everyone who has been involved in this department. Those hallmarks of success resonated with attendees, and the video presentation and photo gallery will be available to watch on the LaTour-Eichenwald Forum webpage in the near future. We were also able to share the thoughts of Rita Bowen and Kathy Callan via recorded video.  Saturday brought a campus tour, breakfast, and guided painting session where 16 alumni, students, and faculty members created their own rendition of Tower Hall. We are especially pleased to announce that we have met the original endowment goal for the LaTour-Eichenwald Forum. Thank you to everyone who participated in any of the events and to those who donated to help us meet this important goal!

We wish you the best as the year draws to a close, and hope that you have as many reasons to celebrate as we do. Our thoughts are with you and your families as you gather, and know that you are always part of our family.

Have a safe and happy holidays!

The College of St. Scholastica Department of Health Informatics and Information Management

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Alumni Highlight - Lee Wise's Publications!

At 2017 AHIMA National Convention, we had a delightful conversation with one of our past graduates during our alumni reception. During that conversation, we were reminded of how prolifically she has been contributing to the conversation through her contributions to written publications. Her name is Lee Wise (B.S. HIM '11, M.S. HIM/IT Leadership '13) and she is the Health Information Director/Privacy Officer at Andalusia Health in Andalusia, Alabama. To give you an idea of what we are talking about, she has contributed to all of the following articles in the past few years (which have all appeared in the Journal of AHIMA):  

  • Patient Registration Demographic Data Capture and Exchange White Paper - September 2017
  • HIM Prepped to Shape the Future of Population Health through HIE - April 2017
  • HIM Best Practice for Records Management at Transitions of Care - March 2016
  • Understanding How HIM is Impacting Quality on the National Level - October 2015
  • HIT Standards for HIM Practices White Paper - September 2015
  • The Expanding Role of Care Coordination - March 2015

Goodness! We are so impressed at her volume of work, and cannot wait to see what she will be working on next. Our alumni are amazing, as is their outstanding involvement and dedication to the profession. Keep an eye out for more from Lee, well done!