Initially, I was compelled to major in Information Systems upon entering college. It seemed like a natural fit for me. It didn’t take long for that to change. I decided that I could reach more people and help more people using those same IT skills, if I broadened my understanding of the ways IT can be applied to the realm of healthcare and with that I changed my major to Health Information Management. Changing my major not only helped me gain a greater appreciation and understanding for my initial field of study, but it really encouraged me to become committed to a long term goal of contributing to the improvement of healthcare through IT.
Selecting HIM as my major expanded the opportunities available to me upon graduation due to the wide variety of topics covered by the curriculum, from Classification Systems to Health Law and everything in between. The workload was heavy and difficult but rightfully so. In the classroom, I felt confident and embraced every chance to expand my understanding by asking questions and using available resources. My classrooms were filled with a unique blend of backgrounds, cultures, perspectives and skillsets from the students to the HIM professors and staff, who were always helpful and supportive. Independent projects and presentations prepared me for public speaking in the workplace while participation in organizations like SHIMA (Student Health Information Management Association) gave me the opportunity to hear professionals in the industry speak about their experiences. Professional development opportunities through internships were plentiful and these opportunities successfully helped me to become a well-rounded professional.
Upon completing the HIM program in May 2015, I found myself confident and well prepared for the next part of my professional journey. I passed the Registered Health Information Administrator (RHIA) exam just one month after graduation in one attempt. Immediately, I accepted an offer from the Health IT giant, Cerner. Currently, I work for Cerner as a consultant on the HIM team. I maintain client satisfaction through consistent communication and support, build and strengthen new and existing relationships and work collaboratively to achieve organizational goals and enhance productivity.
The HIM program at Illinois State University prepared me to make a seamless transition from the classroom to the workplace. The program is designed with the student and their future in mind and I wouldn’t trade my experience for anything.
"I started out as a biology major. I wanted to find a career that would allow me to have an impact on human health without being a nurse or physician. Health Information Management was a major I found that would prepare me for a great career in healthcare that was related to patient care but did not involve hands-on patient care. I wanted an education and degree that would give me a competitive edge over others who have the experience but not the education."
"Initially I expected this major to be more related to information processes and medical records. But I soon found out that this major prepared you with management skills. The faculty impressed me with their diverse educational backgrounds and practical work experience and knowledge of the field.
"As you begin the major, the courses start out gradually. Initially, each course is narrowly defined. I wasn't sure that some of the courses I was taking fit in with the whole scheme of things. But as I started my senior year, it all came together! It suddenly made sense as to why I was taking these courses!"
"It has been very positive for me. As a married student being pulled in different directions, it is difficult, but that is why I enjoy it. I like being challenged. The challenging aspect will help prepare me for the real world.
"The dynamic and professional faculty encourage us in getting through the process. They want us to succeed in the classes and the real world!"
"At first, I was an English major and I came across an advertisement for a major that developed professionals in healthcare and did not involve blood! It sounded interesting and was a much better alternative to writing papers the rest of my life! I didn't know much about the major. I was worried about some of the pre-requisite courses like anatomy."
"I found the major to be very detail oriented which is what I really like. I don't regret my decision to change majors at all. It is more practical and applied than my previous major."
"The courses are challenging but not extremely difficult. You need to keep on top of things or you get way behind. I am also in the marching band at ISU. We practice six hours per week plus weekend performances. But I have been able to pursue both interests without difficulty."
I declared my major as Health Information Management when I applied to ISU. I knew I wanted to be in the medical field because I love to help people. However, I could not be in a field where there is a lot of patient contact because I do not like to see others in pain. I wanted to do something behind the scenes. While applying to different colleges, I would search through the majors offered until I found something related to healthcare that did not require active participation in patient care. I honestly was not very knowledgeable about the major until I started taking the classes my junior year. I had a general idea of what the major was but could only explain to others that it dealt with medical records. I joined the Student Health Information Management Association as a sophomore hoping to gain more knowledge about the major, but it wasn’t until I was in the classroom that I really understood and gained appreciation for the major. The program’s curriculum really helps educate students on the variety of pathways that are available after graduation.
I really enjoyed my classes and professors. The professors are always willing and available to assist students with questions related to classwork as well as mentoring. I became extremely close with all of my professors which aided my advancement into the industry. We were encouraged as students to attend the annual Illinois Health Information Management Association meetings as well as the Central Illinois Health Information Management Association meetings. These were a great gateway to interacting with professionals in the field and opened the door for the reality of what the HIM program can do for its students.
I graduated in May 2014 and passed the RHIA exam in July 2014. I began my career in February 2014 while finishing my last semester at ISU. One of the professors sent an email with an opportunity at HSHS St. Mary’s Hospital in Decatur, IL which prompted my career. I began working PRN on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, while going to classes on Tuesdays and Thursdays. I continued with this position during our senior professional practice at the end of the semester and was able to use items from my employment as part of my project. I became a full-time colleague in August 2014 as a facilitator in the HIM department. In these roles I recorded and monitored coding productivity, aided in implementing a patient portal, and assisted with the Recovery Audit Contractors audits. In April 2015 I became the Manager of the HIM department. I currently have the same responsibilities as I previously had in the facilitator role with additional tasks such as handling physicians’ incomplete records and managing the clerical area of the HIM department. I really enjoy my career and cannot thank ISU and the HIM program enough for getting me to where I am today.
I started at ISU in 2010 after graduating from community college. I knew I wanted to work in healthcare but not in a direct care role. I have always enjoyed technology and tinkering around with programming and application building at home. I pursued the HIM program because I knew it would give me a versatile skill set and broad knowledge of the healthcare industry. I did this with the hope that it would allow me to break into the health information technology field.
I began my career right after graduation working for Allscripts Healthcare. I supported the implementation of physician practice EHR’s around the country. I then left and worked briefly as a manager of HIM in a behavioral health hospital. I then completed a Masters in Health Informatics at The College of Saint Scholastica in 2016. I am currently a Statistician working in the Advanced Analytics division in the new JUMP Innovation Center at OSF Healthcare. My long-term career goal is to become a Data Scientist with focus in data mining, computer vision, and natural language processing. I have co-published a paper in the Journal of AHIMA titled “Aligning Computer-Assisted Coding and Information Governance Efforts” in 2015. I was recognized by ILHIMA as an “Outstanding New Professional” in 2015. I also participate in volunteer task forces for AHIMA to help the organization develop learning plans that will teach students the skills they need to know in the future.
My experiences at ISU helped me realize my potential and prepared me for work in the healthcare industry. The HIM program teaches clinical and technical skills that enable students to put together a higher-level picture of healthcare than is possible with many other majors. Skills learned from the HIM program such as medical coding, project management, database design, privacy/security, and data integrity are used by professionals on a daily basis in healthcare analytics. These are universal skills that will allow you to pursue any career that you wish in the healthcare industry. This broad set of skills is what makes the HIM program such a great choice for working in healthcare.