This blog post is my midterm assignment for HIMT 1410: Coding and Classification – ICD Advanced, part of the Health Information Management Technology (HI13) Associate of Applied Science Degree program at Georgia Northwestern Technical College. The assignment was to write a one-page essay reflecting on my educational experience and what it has meant to me. What have I learned about myself during this time? How did you feel coming into this program, and where are you now?
I lived in South Carolina, and I returned to Georgia to start over after ending a relationship. I returned to my hometown and ultimately decided to change careers to enter the medical field. I came to the Health Information Management Technology program at Georgia Northwestern Technical College on purpose and by chance at the same time.
In the beginning, I wanted to study in the Radiologic Technology program at Southern Crescent Technical College, so I began to take the pre-requisites one at a time. In the spring of 2020, I was completing the last pre-requisites for the radiology program at SCTC. At this point, the COVID-19 pandemic was in full swing, and admissions testing closed. I had not yet taken the PSB exam, and the school told me I could not apply for the program until I had completed the PSB, even though testing was closed indefinitely. I began to think about what my options were moving forward.
I talked to a doctor about the medical field, my education, and my experience. He told me that he thought I was already set up for a path toward administration. He thought I would be great at coding and HIM. He also thought I was smart and that I would do well in this area. This option was not something I had thought about or was familiar with, so I researched HIM, medical coding, certifications, and schools. That was when I applied to GNTC.
None of the schools approved by AHIMA for the RHIT certification exam were nearby or commutable. I am happy to have found a great online program that I can do from home, especially during the pandemic. I could not have studied radiology online or easily work my job around it. At first, GNTC also said I could not proceed due to classes being full and needing the PSB for HIMT program admission. Despite everything falling apart in the pandemic, I feel that all the puzzle pieces have gradually come together over time. It just has not been the way I initially thought it would be.
During the spring of 2020, I lost one of my two part-time jobs as a restaurant server due to COVID-19. My second job at a newspaper saw slower sales and staff changes but is now full-time. I am now a full-time student in the summer semester of 2021, which is short and compressed. Working full-time and going to school full-time make a hectic schedule and often feels like a roller coaster. Circumstances continue to evolve and change, so I have learned adaptation, self-discipline, and strict time management.
I have two semesters left, and I expect the program to continue advancing and getting even more difficult. I am overwhelmed with the amount of information and facts there are to learn. With everything I learn, I realize how much there is still to know. This experience makes me think of Matryoshka nesting dolls. Opening one doll leads to another doll, and the information seems never-ending. The dolls may obviously symbolize womanhood and family, but they also represent life and the evolution of experiences (Nesting Dolls, n.d.). I certainly have evolved over the last couple of years.
I worry about remembering everything long-term that I have studied and being ready for the certification exam. I feel I need to sit down with flashcards and study terminology and anatomy a lot more. I also want to spend more time reading coding guidelines and my textbooks on my own outside of classes after they end. I want to experiment in AHIMA VLab with the encoders on my own, and I hope I have time to do so after the summer semester is over. I also dread taking statistics next semester.
Overall, I am thankful for the opportunity and my experience at GNTC. Despite my worries, I feel more confident, knowledgeable, and prepared for the medical field. I am excited about this adventure and am curious to know where I will end up.
Nesting Dolls. (n.d.). The Real Symbolic Meaning of Russian Nesting Tattoos and Dolls. https://nestingdolls.co/blogs/posts/russian-nesting-dolls-tattoos-meaning