By Jill Hietpas, WCTC HIT Student
My journey from nursing to the health information technology field is not the typical choice for an LPN. I have been an LPN for the past 14 years and have spent the last nine of those years working at an Ambulatory Surgery Center. Most nurses don’t understand why I just didn’t go for my RN because it seems like the most obvious thing to do. I personally did not want to go through nursing clinical rotations ever again, as the memories and anxiety from that time was not something that I wanted to relive.
Although I will miss the patient interaction, I have felt burned out as a nurse and I was excited to do something else.
I wanted to use my nursing knowledge but I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do. A former nurse co-worker shared that she was working as a lead medical coder at a local hospital and loved it. Then she explained to me that she went for eight months to get a diploma in medical coding through a local private allied health school. I started to research programs for health information management, because I wanted an actual degree instead of a diploma, as I already had college credits. I looked into UW Green Bay (online) and Waukesha County Technical College (WCTC) and decided that I would pursue an Associate Degree in health information technology rather than the Bachelor’s Degree. The combination of coding classes with the HIT degree at WCTC intrigued me and the degree would give me multiple different avenues with employment after I finished school.
I believe that my nursing background will be beneficial once I am employed in the HIM field as the clinical knowledge that I gained through my nursing education and experiences will help with any HIM job that I will take once I graduate. I have taken care of a variety of patients at different health care settings, such as a Skilled Nursing Facility, Inpatient Rehabilitation, Endocrine Clinic and Ambulatory Surgery Center. My past experiences in nursing can guide me with my future job as I understand the clinical side of healthcare.
I believe that the perspective of a coder is much different than one of a nurse. A coder doesn’t quite understand the clinical process and a nurse doesn’t understand the coding process. Before going into the program, I did not understand medical coding at all and it just seemed foreign to me. But now with going through the program, I understand the process that needs to happen in order to get to the correct codes. I think that coders need to understand that the majority of the nurses out there do not even know what a coder does and what impact their job has in healthcare. Nurses need to know that the coders have an important job in healthcare and that if they did not do their job, reimbursement for the providers and the facility would not happen.
Right now, I am in my first professional practice experience rotation with Lynn Kuehn who is a subject matter expert for Libman Education. I am learning a lot going through the coding educational modules that she created for Libman and experiencing firsthand how they can help a student to better their coding skills. My plans after I graduate in May are to take the RHIT exam first and then take the CCS exam. My goal is to locate a job that will use all of my knowledge, both nursing and HIM.
Statement by the Author: Jill Hietpas
I have been working in the healthcare field for the past 14 years as an LPN. I started out in a Skilled Nursing Facility and subsequently worked in Inpatient Rehabilitation, Endocrine and the most recent being at an Ambulatory Surgery Center. I plan on looking for a job once I am done with school in May and also plan on taking the RHIT and CCS exams over the summer. I am looking forward to finding a job that I can utilize the knowledge that I’ve gained as a nurse and also utilize what I have learned in the health information technology program. I can be reached via email at [email protected].
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