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

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Student/Alumni Profile - Kayla White-Kusilek

Name: Kayla White-Kusilek
Current Employer: Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of MN
Program/Degree/Graduation Date: HIM, graduated May 2016

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

When I started researching schools that offered the Health Information Management Program, The College of St Scholastica was one of the few in this area. This school stood out to me immediately. I love the reputation of St Scholastica, and I was extremely drawn to the Benedictine values, as they relate very closely to many of my own values. They also have a very high job placement rate upon graduation. I knew that this was the school and the program I wanted to be a part of so I applied and was accepted! I am so happy with my decision and am very proud to be a St. Scholastica Alumni.

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

I was a part of the online program of HIIM and I loved the flexibility of taking classes online. I was able to work full time and go to school. I loved getting the hands on experience at work and being able to relate work to my classes.

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

Short term I am going to continue working in the Health Information Management department at Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota, and pass my RHIA / I am going to take a year off
of school and then obtain my Masters. Long term I would like to manage an area of HIM.

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

Try to go shadow a HIM department at a hospital or clinic. It is not at all what you would expect, there is so much growth right now in this area of health care. These departments are truly an asset to most health care organizations and seeing this should make you very excited to become a part of it all. This will also give you a good idea of whether or not this is the right path for you.
What hobbies do you enjoy? 

Hunting, Archery, Riding horse, camping, being outside

What is your favorite movie? 

The Other Women, The Proposal, and The Notebook

What is your favorite travel destination? 

Anywhere warm with a beach!

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Reflections from Vicki Zeman: "Recipe for Success"

Many important events have recently taken place in my life, but the most recent - being selected as Distinguished Member in 2016 by the Minnesota Health Information Management Association - gave me reason to pause, remember and reflect. I am personally at that period in time where many things are coming to a close (while many other things are beginning), and as someone greater than myself once said “all good things must come to an end.”

In all honesty, I have never been a person who sought or wanted awards. I did not and do not enjoy being in the ‘limelight.’ What I sought as a working professional was to love what I did and do it well.  To feel like what I did mattered and to feel that I was a valued member of a group. To enjoy my work. To find true satisfaction.  When I was contacted about being nominated for the Distinguished Member Award I was taken aback, because I was so sure there were many more people more deserving then me! My professional work provided me with great challenges and satisfaction, especially my years at St. Scholastica. My professional involvement was often hit and miss as I balanced work and single parenthood, but the friendships that resulted from professional involvement were deeply rewarding both professionally and personally. The love of learning and love of teaching were (and are) constants in my life.

As I look back I realize that loving what you do professionally is a true gift. I practiced Health Information Management for thirteen years before joining the faculty at St. Scholastica.  I was blessed to find my ‘sweet spot’ in HIM when I began teaching at CSS.  In addition, I worked with people who also loved what they did and provided a nurturing environment for learning, growing and developing every aspect of me as a person and a professional. The pushes I received were gentle but consistent, while the support and love was unceasing. I worked in what I think can be termed a true “safe’ place. I was able to translate my love for the profession and colleagues into a deeply caring and nurturing environment for students and learning. In reflection, I found a true recipe for success!

Where we go as professionals can be carefully planned, but the one thing that is certain in life is change! The one constant! We should continue to adapt, always be willing to learn and be willing to try new things. These skills can make for truly exciting and rich life and professional experiences. Know that being a part of the community of HIM professionals requires that we share our experiences and knowledge, as it can only enhance our life as people and professionals. We all have to grow and develop and participate willingly in community efforts to share knowledge and nurture others. That is how we move forward professionally!

If I could change anything, I wish I had started teaching sooner! Working with students and helping them grow their knowledge base and to develop the ability to solve problems and make good decisions has been the most satisfying part of my professional experience. Attending the MHIMA Annual Meeting to receive the Distinguished Member Award for 2016 allowed me to reconnect with so many young professionals (alums) who are out there working hard, growing professionally and personally, and spreading the understanding of HIM. It was a highlight of a lifetime!  I felt so special and so loved and so proud all at once.  Find your ‘sweet spot’ and share what you know through community connections such as MHIMA or AHIMA or whatever organization fits your professional needs best. And, above all, keep growing and keep learning!

~Vicki Zeman

Vicki Zeman, center, with current and past HIIM faculty and staff at the 2016 MHIMA Distinguished Member Luncheon