Northwestern College’s Chris Wheat Goes from Alum, to Faculty, to Award Winner!
Northwestern College would like to announce that Health Information Technology (HIT) Instructor Christopher Wheat, B.A. RHIT has been awarded the Illinois Health Information Management Association’s (ILHIMA) 2015 “Outstanding New Professional” award! While Wheat may be a newer faculty member at the College, assigned to its Oak Lawn Campus, he is no stranger there. Wheat earned his Associate in Applied Science Degree in HIT from Northwestern College in December 2012. According to Theresa L. Jones, ILHIMA Past-President, Wheat was awarded this esteemed honor in recognition of his contributions to ILHIMA. The award was bestowed to him in mid-April before his peers at ILHIMA’s Annual Meeting held in Springfield, Illinois.
Although currently serving as a full-time HIT Instructor, Wheat previously worked for Northwestern College’s Advising Center as a Peer Tutor while he was a student. In that capacity, he was able to help his fellow classmates get up to speed in various allied health courses. In January 2013, the month following his graduation from the HIT Program, he earned his RHIT Certification. With a new degree in hand, and while searching for a new job, Wheat was contacted by Northwestern College’s HIT Program Coordinator and enlisted to teach the RHIT certification exam review course for Northwestern College HIT students as an adjunct instructor. He continued on as an adjunct for an additional quarter, and with excellent student reviews and accolades from fellow staff members, he was offered a full-time position as an HIT Instructor. Wheat now teaches numerous courses in the department such as Clinical Quality Assessment, ICD-9-CM Coding, ICD-10 Coding, Supervision and Financial Management, and Information Systems in Healthcare.
As a new faculty member, much of Wheat’s time is spent advising students, developing curricula, and preparing course content, yet he still found time to volunteer for ILHIMA. For the last two years he has volunteered on the ILHIMA Annual Conference Planning Committee, and he continues to look for opportunities to expand his activities with CAHIMA. With just two years in the field, ILHIMA presented him with its 2015 “Outstanding New Professional” award, a very unexpected yet exciting honor.
Wheat had previously earned his Bachelor of Arts in Biological Sciences from the University of Chicago in June 2000. He was then employed for several years by the UIC College of Medicine as a Research Specialist in Health Sciences. However, for about three years Wheat changed direction a bit in order to serve as a Home Health Care Assistant, caring for his ailing grandmother. It was a time in his life that was emotional, but highly treasured, affording him an opportunity to play an instrumental role in the life of someone he loved dearly. As a result of this experience, after her death he chose not to return to doing research for UIC, but instead enrolled part-time at Northwestern College to work toward obtaining an Associate in Applied Science Degree in Health Information Technology.
Now, having rekindled his passion for technology and healthcare, and having had the opportunity to share that passion with his students, Wheat has chosen to continue his thirst for knowledge and is currently working toward his Master’s of Science Degree in Health Information Management at the College of St. Scholastica based in Duluth, Minnesota. He also expects to take the Certified Coding Specialist (CCS) exam within the next year.
“We congratulate Chris Wheat on this prestigious honor, given to him by his peers,” commented Lawrence Schumacher, President of Northwestern College. “As a career college, it is one of our primary objectives to enlist experts in the field to teach in our classrooms. Chris was impressive from the start, proving to not only be an exemplary student, but a peer tutor valued by many students who sought his assistance. Now as a second year faculty member, it is of no surprise that ILHIMA identified him from the start as someone who will make a positive contribution to the field!”