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Renae Spohn's DSU journey

January 29, 2021

From learning about Health Information Management to running the program.

“A career in Health Information Management (HIM) offers a choice of over 90 different job titles,” shared Dr. Renae Spohn. “You can weave your path throughout life using the base that you gain in the HIM programs at DSU.”

Spohn has experienced this firsthand, in 1980 she began her time as a student at DSU in the field of health information. Today she serves as Director of HIM programs and Program Coordinator for the Master of Science in Health Informatics and Information Management (MSHIIM).

“I initially started at DSU in the medical record transcription program and then learned about the associate degree in medical record technology (now the AS in Health Information Technology) and realized that I could get a second degree for just a few classes more,” Spohn said.

She ultimately decided to go on to get her bachelor’s degree in Medical Record Administration (now Health Information Administration) at Dakota State as well.

Spohn remembers her time as a student fondly and shared that it truly made an impact on her life. “Prior to coming to DSU I was very reserved, but I had just a great experience as a student. I became involved in the dorm leadership, the homecoming committee, and the medical record club. I gained many friends and loved the environment on DSU’s campus. I gained self-confidence and began to believe in myself, learning that I was valuable and could be successful in life.”

Prior to returning to DSU as an adjunct instructor in 2008, Spohn spent time working in IT for the largest not-for-profit long-term care corporation at their corporate office. She oversaw a clinical applications team that managed and supported clinical applications for nursing homes, home health agencies, sensor technology development in select assisted living sites, private duty home care model pilots, and accountable care pilot projects occurring at one time.

“I knew one day I wanted to give back somehow to DSU to show gratitude for the life-changing college experience which helped me grow as a person and become a successful HIM professional,” Spohn said.

In 2013 she moved into a full-time faculty position, and in 2017 transitioned to director of HIM programs and coordinator for MSHIIM.

“Moving into the director position meant teaching only one course per semester, spending time working with faculty and several departments across campus to meet program and curriculum requirements for accreditation, and supervising HIM faculty,” Spohn said.

However, she sees her most important role is to ensure continuous program improvement. “That involves listening to students, faculty, advisory boards, and HIM colleagues to identify changes that need to be implemented in each of the six HIM programs and making sure the changes are effective.”

From the time Spohn attended school to today, the health information management field has been diverse and continues to evolve. With an education in the field, students can review patient records and apply codes to diseases and procedures performed for statistical reporting and billing; administer or support healthcare information technology applications (i.e. electronic health records); work on teams analyzing data for business intelligence; lead information governance initiatives to protect patient information; and more.

Spohn has served in an array of capacities throughout her career while earning a variety of credentials. These credentials include Registered Health Information Administrator (RHIA), Certified Professional in Health Informatics (CPHI), Certified Professional in Healthcare Quality (CPHQ), Fellow of the American Health Information Management Association (FAHIMA), and Fellow of the National Association for Healthcare Quality (FNAHQ).

She has also earned an MBA in Healthcare Administration, a graduate certificate in Technology Management, and a Ph.D. in Health Sciences.

Health Information Technology (AS)

Health Information Administration (BS)

Master of Science in Health Informatics and Information Management (MSHIIM)

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