When Melissa Metz graduated from the UW Bachelor of Science in Health Information Management and Technology (HIMT) program in May, she was already two months into her ideal job. As a healthcare business analyst for Marshfield Clinic Information Systems (MCIS), Melissa uses her health information management (HIM) and health IT experience and knowledge every day.
“I expected to be working with numbers every day, but there’s so much more to my job,” Melissa says. MCIS provides electronic health record (EHR) products and services to all types of healthcare organizations, including Marshfield Clinic Health Systems, a leading provider of healthcare services. In her position, Melissa works with clients and MCIS’s development team to get new EHR systems up and running.
UW HIMT students usually choose a specialization in HIM or health IT, but Melissa completed both tracks of study. HIM track courses focused on the business side of EHRs and patient information, and health IT courses gave her the skills to build software.
She says specializing in both areas boosted her career.
“MCIS is the only healthcare software organization in my area, so health IT jobs are competitive. I think it was my thorough understanding of HIM and health IT that got me the healthcare business analyst job over many other applicants.”
Before discovering her career in HIMT, Melissa earned a dairy farming certificate from UW-Madison and became a large dairy herd manager. After a few years, she felt drained from the long work hours and craved more interaction with people, so she stepped back and assessed which parts of the job she enjoyed. “I really liked dealing with the online records, which is the reason I looked into the HIMT degree,” Melissa says.
Going back to school on campus was not an option since Melissa had a job and two young daughters at home. The online HIMT program through UW-Green Bay allowed her to earn a bachelor’s degree and make a career change while still keeping up with things she enjoyed in her free time such as spending time with family, gardening, and running. Originally, Melissa intended to just do the health IT track, but since taking online courses fit so well in her life, she decided to spend a little more time taking the four classes needed to complete the HIM track.
Melissa uses what she learned in her courses on database management, hospital and clinic workflows, and project management daily. “At work, it’s my responsibility to manage projects and see them through. I’m so happy I had practice developing projects and timelines in my courses.”
The final course, the capstone experience, was the most beneficial course Melissa took. She was able to tailor the semester-long capstone project to her interests and gain real work experience before graduation. Unlike most capstone experiences, Melissa completed hers online. She set up a database for nurses to track the progress of patients at a geriatric facility.
The project helped steer her in the right direction—toward a blended HIM and health IT career that she’s passionate about and toward the Registered Health Information Administrator (RHIA) certification exam, which she passed in August.
“I get to see the whole EHR process unfold right before my eyes as well as how we can learn and improve health care. This kind of work is what makes me tick.”
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