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IFHIMA – An HIM student’s experience

This is a guest post by one of our HIM students.

Last month, I was privileged with the opportunity to attend the 17th IFHIMA Congress in Montreal, Quebec. At the beginning of my HIM educational journey I learned about this event and made the decision that if I could go, I would go. I looked at it as part of my education, similar to a field trip or a laboratory practical session. In addition, I had never been to Montreal, and remembered during my Health Information Management Prep Course one of the goals I made was to start doing some travelling. It was also the first time I would be separated overnight from my not-yet 2 year old son, so it was a challenge of strength, heart and spirit as well. However, it was a travel I felt I must take, for my education, for my future, and from what I gathered, one is lucky if it comes around once in a “HIMers” career lifetime.

Before I left I told myself I would absorb, grasp, learn and understand everything I could about the terms and concepts I have learned so far in the program. Perhaps I would also sum up the nerve to introduce myself to the key players in the HIM world. I definitely wanted to come back knowing I “saw” CHIMA, CIHI and Infoway players. It was going to be educational, career related and I was going to observe how the HIM world really works. …but what I learned was much more valuable than that; it was motivational, it was talking and brainstorming, connecting and sharing…it was a culture.

The conference was so vast and covered so much – the field is even greater – that to speak about lectures and posters and seminars on processes, systems and studies would be undermining what I got from the experience. I became part of a culture, the “HIM Culture” everyone buzzed about and was immediately embraced by the HIM global community. I saw and heard all the terms and concepts, but in context of systems and organizations and patient care. HIM is patient focused, not document focused, not e-focused and those who produced, directed and played in the conference were healthcare providers, caregivers, HIM experts…HIM family. I remember thinking “it’s funny because so far I have learned that a continuous struggle with the EHR is getting all the different systems that speak different languages to communicate and be interpreted and understood. Yet, in the conference there were so many people from all countries, languages and different areas of the HIM world, and everyone spoke one language and all was understood – which is that this is all important work for the benefit of patient care.

All I met, whether in the HIM culture for 25, 30, 35, 40 years answered to their career paths and purpose with words such as passion, purpose, processes and patient care. With such a diverse field their paths had led many of them to contribute in hospitals, CIHI, CHIMA and then back to HIM roles in hospitals. Those I met were supportive, took me under their wings immediately and looked at me as one would look into the eyes of a child; with delight in her excitement and enthusiasm for life, and support , wisdom and hope for what journeys are yet to come…myself, along with all my classmates at CD-ED will be running the next stretch of the relay as we are now being well-prepared by well-known HIM experts to receive the baton. I am eager to get there now; I have my conference tag and hope to hang it on my office wall like a certificate one day in the future. What a field trip!

Santrina Cerquozzi