When the Student Becomes the Teacher
Joslyn Dalton of Fairview Park, Ohio, currently teaches as an assistant professor in the health information management technology program at Cuyahoga Community College (Tri-C). Dalton is also a student in the health informatics Master of Science program at Kent State University’s School of Library and Information Science. She holds a bachelor’s degree in health information management and systems from The Ohio State University.
The position at Tri-C, Dalton said, “entails teaching the courses and helping the students succeed. We try to incorporate real work scenarios into our learning process. We use actual software programs that are used in the hospital settings. We have access to a virtual lab that includes EHR (Electronic Health Records), encoder, MPI (Master Patient Index) and Release of Information systems.”
The classes she teaches include: Introduction to Health Information Management, Healthcare Delivery Systems, Health Data Documentation Requirements, Healthcare Informatics, Quality Assessment and Improvement, Management Practices in Health Information Management and Project Management.
Dalton said her classes at Kent State complement what she teaches to undergraduates at Tri-C.
“My classes at KSU reinforce the information that I am teaching to my students,” she said. “I’m staying current on the latest topics in HIM” (health information management).
However, Dalton explained that health informatics (HI), which she studies at Kent State, and health information management (HIM), which she teaches at Tri-C, are actually quite different.
“HI focuses more on the information systems and processes that improve the quality and efficiency of care. HI professionals have a thorough understanding of data, particularly EHRs and how they can be used to support decisions in health care,” she said. “HIM professionals are mainly concerned with organizing, managing and protecting the patient data contained in the health record.”
Dalton said she is pursuing the master’s degree to expand her knowledge of the HI field.
“I want to stay current and make sure that I am teaching my students relevant information,” she said. “I am a believer in lifelong learning.”
However, balancing both roles as a teacher and as a graduate student can be difficult, she said.
“Working full-time and going to school definitely has its challenges,” Dalton said. “I am a planner, and every week, I plan my schedule to include my own study time. Whether I’m enrolled in school or not, I will always be a lifelong learner.”
Dalton encourages all of her students to continue their education after they graduate from Tri-C with an Associate of Applied Science degree.
“I think it’s important for my students to see me continuing my education,” she said. “I hope it inspires them to do the same. I try to set the example that you can go to school and work full-time and have a family life.”
Dalton has held her job as an assistant professor at Tri-C since July 2013 and was an adjunct professor at Tri-C for three years prior. Previously, she worked for more than 15 years in health information management.
“I love watching the students learn about the field that I am so passionate about,” she said. “Watching them grow from first-year students who come in and may know nothing about health care to graduation day where they are now my peers in the industry is so rewarding.”
After graduating from Kent State in May 2016 with her master’s degree, Dalton said she plans to continue teaching at Tri-C.