Meet Betty Rockendorf, the new program director of the Bachelor of Science in Health Information Management and Technology (HIMT) at University of Wisconsin-Parkside. Rockendorf joined the online, multi-campus UW HIMT program in 2014 and currently teaches the HIMT course “Healthcare Billing, Coding, and Reimbursement.” Starting this spring, she will be teaching the pre-capstone and capstone courses.
As a 15-year health information management (HIM) professional, Rockendorf is also instrumental in helping the HIMT program at UW-Parkside become CAHIIM accredited, which would allow graduates to sit for the Registered Health Information Administrator (RHIA) exam. (So far, UW-Green Bay is accredited and UW-Parkside is in candidacy status, pending accreditation review by CAHIIM.)
Let’s learn a little more about Professor Rockendorf and her HIM expertise.
1. What led you to your career in HIM?
In college, I earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration and worked as a medical transcriptionist at Door County Memorial Hospital. That’s how I got into HIM. Eventually, I was promoted to transcription supervisor, then HIM director. As director, I oversaw the transcription, medical coding, and medical records teams. In total, I worked at Door County Memorial Hospital for 15 years.
2. What credentials do you have and why?
I have RHIA certification, which is very much revered in the industry and will help you get hired. I have two other credentials: Certified Healthcare Privacy and Security (CHPS) and Certified Healthcare Technology Specialist-Implementation Management (CHTS-IM).
It’s important to keep adding to your education. Additional training and certifications is how you climb the ladder in HIM. But don’t try to earn as many credentials as you can—that won’t help you. Be strategic about it. Which certification makes sense for your career?
UW HIMT Degree GuideGet Guide
Download a four-page overview of the UW Health Information Management and Technology bachelor’s program, including information on courses, careers, and tuition.
3. What did you like most about working in HIM? What was the most challenging aspect?
I really liked the variety of work. Over 15 years, I shifted my focus from transcription to coding to medical records, and then, to the whole revenue cycle. After that, I concentrated primarily on privacy and security.
One challenge in HIM is the constant changes to policy, technology, and process. During my career, I saw electronic health records introduced and our transcription staff reduced because of speech recognition software. Change isn’t bad—but to work in HIM, you have to be comfortable with going through major transformations often.
4. What are you most proud of?
I’m proud to teach my students; I am also proud of my passion and commitment to making positive changes in the HIM field. This is my second year on the Wisconsin Health Information Management Association (WHIMA) Board of Directors, and in 2016, I was awarded the Distinguished Member Award, which is quite an honor. I am thrilled about it.
Additionally, I’m an appointed AHIMA delegate for Wisconsin, so I’m part of a national group that helps guide the HIM industry’s direction and envisions what HIM will look like in the future. It’s exciting!
5. What advice would you give HIMT students?
Keep your eyes and ears open. You never know when a job opportunity might present itself. I encourage our students to be active with a chapter of AHIMA or WHIMA, because of all the learning and networking opportunities available through those organizations. Go to conferences; you might meet a potential employer or find a workplace where you can complete your capstone experience. For some students, this hands-on capstone experience leads to a full-time position.
Also, be proud and excited about the field you chose. Explore your options. There’s a lot of change going on in HIMT, and so many jobs haven’t even been invented yet. That leaves room for HIMT graduates to bring creativity and knowledge to their careers—and to the healthcare industry.