Monday, June 29, 2009

Health information graduates find a Scholastica College degree pays off

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Scholastica in Duluth has had their "Medical Records" curriculum for many years and regularly have attracted students from many foreign locales whose medical economies desperately need those kind of professionals.

Most people emerging from the College of St. Scholastica’s Healthcare Informatics and Information Management program continue to find that their services are in high demand, despite the sour economy.

These are tough times for new college graduates.

But most people emerging from the College of St. Scholastica’s Healthcare Informatics and Information Management program continue to find that their services are in high demand, despite the sour economy.

Last year, 24 of the 25 program graduates landed jobs in their field within six months.

And Kathleen LaTour, department chairwoman, said this year’s graduating class has seen no decline in recruiting pressure. She predicts a similarly high placement rate.

“St. Scholastica has always been a leader in the field,” said Linda Kloss, executive vice president and CEO of the American Health Information Association, a nonprofit group. A 1968 graduate of

St. Scholastica herself, Kloss noted that the Duluth school was the first college nationwide to offer a bachelor’s degree in health information management.

Said LaTour: “We’re sometimes called the Harvard of health information management.”

Over the weekend, program graduates gathered at their alma mater to mark the 75th anniversary of the degree. St. Scholastica now also offers a master’s degree in the field.

“Graduates of St. Scholastica can go just about anywhere in the country and find work. Actually, they can go pretty much anywhere in the world,” said Beth Just, a 1978 program graduate who is now president and CEO of Just Associates, a Colorado-based consultancy specializing in medical information management.

Mike Kovala, a 2008 program graduate, now works as an analyst for Sisu Medical Solutions LLC of Duluth.

“Probably about 50 percent of my friends who graduated with different degrees are still trying to find a job in their field,” he said. “Many of them are not able to use their education to full potential. So I definitely feel really lucky.”

Susan Johnson earned her master’s degree in health information management this year while working as a health information systems specialist for St. Luke’s. She said she was impressed with how the school stays on top of developments in the field.

“They’re teaching what’s actually being used in the field today and tomorrow,” she said.

Kloss said it’s an exciting time to be in health information management. President Barack Obama recently touted electronic information management systems as a key to improving the nation’s health-care system.

“I never expected to hear a president refer to electronic health records in a State of the Union speech or an inaugural address,” she said.

But Kloss said there’s a good reason medical records systems are at center stage right now.

“Policymakers have come to understand that there can be no health-care reform without improving the information infrastructure of what is the most information-intensive industry in the world,” she said. Duluth News Tribune


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