Faculty Spotlight: Angela Campbell
Angela Campbell works as an assistant professor in the Health Information Technology program. She has been with Northwestern College just over 4 years, with a total of 18 years working in higher education overall. Her own educational background is quite impressive. She has obtained an associate’s in Liberal Arts and a Medical Coding Specialist certificate, both from Lakeland College. She then continued on to receive a Bachelor’s of Arts in General Studies from Eastern Illinois University and a Bachelor’s of Science in Health Information Administration from Stevens College. She completed two bachelor’s degrees in just 3 years. She has since gone back to school, as of January 2017, to pursue her master’s in Healthcare Informatics through Southern Illinois University, Edwardsville. Angela explained that the reason she has chosen to continue her own education is because health informatics is becoming such a significant piece of the health information field. “To continue to be an effective teacher, I needed to continue my education in that area so that I can continue to be a good resource for my students.”
On top of teaching and pursuing her advanced education, Angela is still working full-time in the field, as well. She works at Eastern Illinois University managing their student health insurance program. Within this role, she manages student insurance by writing and administering insurance plans. Some additional responsibilities include helping to enroll students in a plan that fits their needs, collecting premiums, receiving claims and sending out benefits. Her journey to get to this point has been quite inspiring. While finishing high school, Angela started working as a Certified Nurse Aide in a nursing home. She continued to do that for about 6 months after graduating when a position for a medical records director became available.
“The nursing home director had a lot of faith in me. I did much better in assisting patients in that capacity than I did in actual patient care. I did it well and I liked what I did”. At that point the passion was lit and Angela’s resume and skillset continued to grow. She eventually moved on to work as a transcriptionist for an orthopedic doctor. From there she transitioned to a physician’s office as an office manager and physicians assistant. She ran the office, managed the billing, helped administer allergy shots for patients and helped the physician where she could. After some time, Angela then veered into quality management, aligning even more closely with her passion for health information. She worked as a quality manager for about ten years before a position as a medical records technician at Eastern Illinois University opened. Angela pursued this opportunity because she saw the value and long-term benefits. She worked in the doctor’s office at the university for about two years before officially transferring into her current role in insurance. “I just found I really loved what I was doing. Teaching students hot to understand insurance, working with different providers for discount agreements for students who didn’t have other insurance, keeping it affordable and students healthy.”
Angela is an incredibly motivated, hard-working woman, to say the least. Aside from the above mentioned experience and accomplishments, she has also won many awards, has earned multiple certifications and has done a great deal of volunteer work. In 2015 she won the Superior Performance Award from Eastern Illinois University and in 2016 she received the Outstanding Employee/Teacher of the Year Award from the College of Healthcare Professions. She is a Certified Higher Education Professional (CHEP) through the National Association of State Administrators and Supervisors of Private Schools (NASSPS). She is also certified as a Registered Health Information Administrator (RHIA) and holds the ICD 10-CM/PCS Trainer certification for coding. Angela also holds a professional membership in the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA), through which she does much of her volunteer work. She sits on several committees through AHIMA such as the Professional Certificate Approval Program (PCAP), the Council of Excellence in Education (CEE), the Foundation Scholarship Committee, Practice Council for Clinical Terminology and Classification and the HIM Reimagined (HIMR) taskforce.
Angela uses this expansive background as the driving force for her other main passion – teaching. Angela teaches online courses at Northwestern College, primarily the coding courses, practicum and the review course, which is the classroom preparation for the credentialing exam. She goes on to explain that the hardest subject is coding. There are four coding classes, covering three different coding systems. “Each coding systems is like learning a new language and none of them have any similarities.” Before students get discouraged, however, Angela has some very insightful thoughts, “If it was easy, everyone would be doing it. You’ll have a skill that most people won’t have. You’ll be very marketable and coders make great money. Develop a schedule you can live with so you can complete your assignments on time. The more you practice, the better you’ll get. The better you are, the better you’ll get paid”. If you put the work in, you will find a career, not just a job. This is something Angela is incredibly proud of, explaining that “I am most proud that I am helping people. I am teaching them the skills and sharing knowledge with them to develop a career, something they love. That changes lives.” Angela goes on to explain that some students who enter the program may never have attended school or had a stable career before. Being able to help these students is what fulfills her. “I really try to share my love and passion for the industry and excite them about it. When they get excited, I get more excited.”
Another reason Angela loves this field so immensely is because there are so many different avenues students can take. She explained that students can work anywhere from veterinarian offices, insurance offices, universities, hospitals, prisons, doctors office and so much more. Because there is such a wide variety of avenues to take, you can explore multiple areas before determining the best fit for you. “I love what I do and I love the industry I work in. By keeping myself busy and involved, it gives me the opportunity to share that information with my students so they can realize everything they can possibly do with a degree in health information”. Her professional advice to is to network and volunteer. In this industry networking is a big help in keeping you connected and leading you to various opportunities. “I want students to be as passionate about it as I am. I want them to find their niche.”
Angela teaches online courses and has completed her own education online, as well. As a wife, a mother to 5 children and a grandmother to 11 grandchildren, she needs that flexibility. “I understand the needs of the online student. I completed my education online and understand that when a student has a question, they need a response to move forward. I try to be very responsive so they can maintain their schedule and their work will not be delayed due to waiting for a response.” She is incredibly empathetic to the student experience. Therefore, the final message Angela wants to drive home is simple – ask for help. Too many times she has experienced students struggling in silence and therefore not doing well in class. “My students’ success is important to me. That’s what we are here for as teachers. We work for them. Without them we don’t have a job. I want to see them succeed.”