|LSSC alumni Teena McKay and Ana McGlohorn stand before Florida Hospital Waterman, where they both work thanks to the guidance of Brandy Ziesemer.|
Teena McKay worked in a school kitchen for 13 years to put her daughters through school. While going through a divorce, she lived in a one-bedroom apartment with her two daughters, working full-time in the kitchen as well as taking classes at Lake-Sumter so she could support herself in the future. Today she works at Waterman along with Hudson as a medical coder, assigning codes to written diagnoses for billing by insurance companies. She now has the career of her dreams, and recently, a new home as well.
These women are just two of the many students who found their new beginning in Brandy Ziesemer’s classroom. Ziesemer was asked to help start Lake-Sumter’s Health Information Management (HIM) course, and saw it accredited in 2000. Since then, she has helped thirteen graduates get a job at Waterman, eight with the Central Florida Health Alliance and eight at South Lake Hospital.
|Ziesemer has been helping HIM students at LSSC find careers since |
the course began in 2000.
Jessica Yelvington, who has been at Waterman for nearly four years, was hired because of a practicum that Ziesemer arranged. “She picks cool places close to you,” says Yelvington. “Brandy was a really good teacher. She really knew her stuff and knew what to teach you.”
According to Susan Bump, the Health Information Services (HIS) Operations Coordinator, Ziesemer also instilled in her students a good work ethic for their future careers. “She emphasized that our participation in the course was kind of like a job. Our attendance was important; if she were to refer us to a job or recommend us or act as a reference, she could say what we did in school as far as attendance and performance.”
Ziesemer was the one who helped Bump get her first job coding job with Per-Se Technologies, before she moved to Waterman. Now, Bump returns the favor by overseeing those who Ziesemer sends in for practicums. “I want to always give back to Brandy because of what she’s done for me and for everybody. She’s a good advocate for the profession and for her students and former students, and she’s a friend.”
|Susan Bump found her first job in HIM through Ziesemer. She has since become the |
Heath Information Services Operations coordinator at Waterman.
To Ziesemer, helping students succeed is like a hobby. She is constantly making connections in the health information field that allow her to find jobs for those in her classes. “I just try to keep my fingers in as many pots as possible, because it all winds up helping my students,” she says.
Ziesemer worked as a middle manager for a managed care organization in New Jersey and northern California before moving to Florida in 1993 to help with a personal business. She went from working 60 hours per week to 20 after the move, and to fill in the extra time she asked to teach a continuing education coding course at what was then Lake County Area Vocational Technical Center. When Lake-Sumter Community College asked her to teach shortly after, Ziesemer had all the experience but none of the accreditations needed to formally teach. So, within eight months she completed the entire HIM course and took the National Certification Exam so she could teach. In 2003 she earned a coding certificate just to make the program more credible.
Now she is a Registered Health Information Administrator, a Certified Coding Specialist and an American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) – approved trainer for ICD-10 coding. She has a Masters in English, as well as 18 Masters-level graduate credit hours in healthcare informatics. She has also published a textbook – Medical Office Management and Technology: An Applied Approach – and co-authored and contributed to several others.
Besides being well-qualified, Bump says that Ziesemer also keeps the information she teaches up to date. “It’s a really, really good course,” she says, and adds that she would recommend the program to anyone due to its value in the career field.
According to Hudson, one of the best features of the HIM field is the great variety of possible jobs and the opportunities to branch out. She originally wanted to become a coder, but found that she liked working with the physicians most because it ultimately helps the patients. This fact gave her work a purpose, so that for her it is more than just a job.
|Beth Hudson found a career she loves by branching out in the field of HIM.|
“I love the job I have just because of the people I work with and the professional atmosphere there,” she adds. This was a sentiment expressed by several others in her department, including Bump, Yelvington, and Ana McGlohorn, who codes ER records as well as auditing others’ work. She has been with Waterman for nine years so far, and says, “It’s been a great place to work.”
All it takes for a student to get a career in Health Information Management is a few courses at LSSC, and the HIM workers at Waterman have some advice for the journey. McKay’s counsel is to “Buckle down, take advantage of all the help Brandy has to offer, be diligent, don’t let up. Stick to it. Focus. If a student in Brandy’s classes works hard, and shows her that they’re working hard and they’re really trying, she will advocate for them every way possible.”
Hudson’s advice is to be flexible, and not to expect to learn everything at once. There is lots of information in the HIM course, and it changes often. She also reminds students that they may have to work their way up to the job that they want. Hudson initially spent two years answering phones before advancing, and has since played many roles as she moved up through the ranks.
Yelvington counsels students to pay attention to the rules of the medical information field, and Bump stresses that those in the HIM course should “definitely take [the] credentialing exams. Do it soon after you graduate. It’s something you’ll have forever. Brandy always impressed that upon us.”
|Jessica Yelvington became acquainted with Waterman through a practicum that Ziesemer arranged. Now, she works with birth certificates there.|
Health Information Management is a solid career choice for any student. Though pursuing it takes some work, caring and enthusiastic teachers like Ziesemer bring it within reach. When “you know your teacher appreciates or notices what you’re doing, it encourages you to work harder,” says McKay. “If it hadn’t been for Brandy, I wouldn’t be working where I’m at now.” One person can sometimes make all the difference in a student’s career, and for many at Waterman and other hospitals all over Florida and beyond, that one person has been Brandy Ziesemer.