HITM grad reflects on her role in healthcare

Ronda StumpfRonda Stumpf was nervous about taking the exam that would certify her as a capable health information technology and management professional. It took a little more than two hours in Laramie County Community College’s testing center for Stumpf to complete the Registered Health Information Technician exam, but when she did, she received her verdict right away. 

“I passed, and I cried,” she said with a laugh. “I cried because it took so much studying — it was the hardest test I’ve ever taken — but I was so proud of myself. My husband was proud, and so were my friends and family. They understood the hours I put into this.” 

Today, Stumpf works in the Medical Records department at Cheyenne Regional Medical Center. That was made possible by her graduating in May with an associate of applied science degree in Health Information and Technology Management, or HITM, from LCCC. 

The program was rigorous, Stumpf said, but the quality of instruction at LCCC prepared her for the day-to-day tasks in her new career. 

“There was great communication with instructors; (instructor) Angela (Kortemeier) was so helpful, and always responsive if we had questions,” Stumpf said. 

Stumpf came to LCCC as a nontraditional student, deciding to seek a new career after more than a decade as a bookkeeper. She knew she was interested in health care, but it wasn’t clear what the right fit would be. Knowing that the hands-on daily work of nurses might be a challenge for her physically, Stumpf said she took an interest in health information technology and management.

Health information technologists specialize in managing and protecting medical records; administering health information management systems; and coding for reimbursement, research and quality care. Health information technology and management experts ensure that medical information is handled accurately and efficiently in hospitals. It’s critical to know, for example, whether patients receiving care have conditions such as diabetes or high blood pressure, as this can have important impacts on provider decisions. This results in fewer mistakes in treatment, quicker access to necessary information for patient care, and an overall safer and more satisfying healthcare experience.

The importance of good record-keeping in health care isn’t lost on Stumpf, who said she knows she plays a role every day in helping patients live fulfilling lives.

“I’m compassionate when it comes to our patients, and I’m very passionate about my career,” she said.

Students in LCCC’s HITM program see the benefits of the multi-level, or stacked, certificates. They can complete the initial certification in one semester and then seek employment or continue with the medical claims coding associate certificate. This certificate, which takes roughly three semesters to complete, allows students to prepare for a career in medical billing or coding. If students wish to complete the full associate degree, it can be done in about two years.  Most importantly, these stackable certificates are offered completely online either full- or part-time.

Stumpf successfully managed to work part-time and pursue her degree and certifications over the two years, thanks to the online nature of the program and the support from her husband.

As she seeks to enhance her professional qualifications, Stumpf said she knows she’ll continue to have a sense of satisfaction in serving patients in profound ways.

“I want to do a great job to make sure our patients are at ease,” she said. “They’re having health issues, and having your medical records correct means one less thing to worry about. We just want to be there for them in this way.” 

For more information about the Health Information and Technology Management program, contact Ann Howard at ahoward1@lccc.wy.edu or 307.432.1686 or visit lccc.wy.edu/HITM.