Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Leading in HIM Education

by Nichole Russ, BS, RHIT 

Educators are some of the most vital leaders in the Health Information Management (HIM) field. They are one of the first leaders to introduce the field to students in detail. Instructors shape the picture of what HIM is and what it can be for each student. Jill Caton, RHIA, who is the Program Coordinator and an Assistant Professor for the Health Information Technology, Healthcare Administration, & Medical Coding Certificate programs at Terra State Community College is one leader in our field who has some great insight on ways to become a leader and how to improve your leadership skills.

As a previous physician educator, concentrating on documentation needs for coding purposes, Jill truly enjoyed the opportunity to educate. When an opportunity opened at Terra State Community College she took advantage of this and became a full-time faculty member. Since moving into this role in 2013 she has continued to enjoy the opportunity to educate and lead students in the HIM field. As an educator, Jill has had the opportunity to work with many students and other staff members who demonstrate leadership skills. According to Jill, these individuals stand out because, “They take initiative to work on projects or tasks and ask questions as needed. They accept leadership roles or volunteer for different events. I like to be a mentor as well in order to help them develop these skills.”

Sometimes the intuition of being a leader comes from your very own experiences and internal desires. Other times the drive to become a leader may come from a mentor or an influential person in your life who has become an inspiration. As a mentor, both personal experiences and influences from others are important. Becoming a leader can take time. Jill believes that you must look for leadership opportunities in all aspects of your life. Different chances to obtain new leadership experience may come in your personal life, your professional life, and even your social life. Jill, who is also a mother, is always trying to be a good leader for her children while trying to show them how to be leaders. She believes that her leadership skills have come from all aspects of her life.

If you have the desire to become a leader in your field, Jill encourages you to, “take initiative, solve problems, and help improve processes.” Making contributions to an organization in these ways, will make you invaluable. As a leader, showing recognition for these contributions is very important for shaping future leaders. Jill mentions that “It is extremely important to listen to or empower your employees as they are the backbone to any organization.” As an employee, do not be afraid to speak up and share your ideas with your leaders. By doing this, you are sharing your potential leadership qualities while making them stronger.

There are many mentors, or leaders, in our field that have similar views as Jill Caton. Effective leaders not only know how to lead but they also know how to listen. Leaders are found in many different positions in the HIM field and have obtained their experience from all aspects of life. These educational mentors have a very strong impact on the future of HIM as they have the power to ignite the passion and desire to succeed in this field within their students.

About the Author 

Nichole Russ, BS, RHIT is a health information management professional who specializes in the inpatient coding area. She enjoys volunteering for both the Northwest Ohio Health Information Management Association (NWOHIMA) and the Ohio Health Information Management Association (OHIMA). Currently, she holds the Past President position for NWOHIMA and is a Project Leader in Leadership for OHIMA.

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