Fall 2019 Blinn graduate discovers second career through the Health Information Technology Program

Program prepares graduates for in-demand careers in the healthcare industry

December 17, 2019

Michelle ChmelarAt 46, Caldwell resident Michelle Chmelar is not the typical college student.

Upon retiring from a successful career in nonprofit accounting at Texas A&M University’s Institute of Nautical Archaeology, she dreamed of going back to school to earn her degree. After researching different options, Chmelar found her match in the Blinn College District Health Information Technology (HIT) Program. Marrying the accuracy and precision of her accounting experience and a desire to work in the healthcare industry, Blinn’s HIT Program provided Chmelar the perfect environment to embark on her second career.

“I had wanted to go back to school for a long, long time. As a second-career individual, I wanted to go into an accredited program where the field was excelling and I could earn my degree online,” Chmelar said. “Blinn checked all the boxes.”

Blinn faculty credit Chmelar’s academic excellence to her enthusiasm and dedication, coupled with a desire to help people.

“Completing an online degree is not easy, but Michelle has been the ideal student, maintaining a perfect 4.0 GPA throughout the entire Health Information Technology Associate of Applied Science degree program,” Program Director Jaime Schroeder said. “She overcame obstacles and possesses outstanding analytical and problem-solving abilities. She will be a tremendous asset to any organization and will go far in her career.”

Chmelar cites Blinn’s faculty and clinical partnerships as being instrumental in her success. Fulfilling the program’s clinical requirement at Baylor Scott & White Medical Center in Brenham, Chmelar believes this environment provided invaluable experience for her to begin her new career.

“It is wonderful that Blinn has partnerships with our surrounding healthcare organizations to establish connections for students,” Chmelar said. “From coding to operations, I have been able to get an overall view of the various roles within a health information department, which has really helped me pinpoint which direction I want to go in within this field.”

Last week, Chmelar realized her lifelong dream by graduating summa cum laude and walking across the stage to receive her diploma. After she passes her Registered Health Information Technician Exam and earns her certification, Chmelar plans to work in coding, but she already has ambitions to earn her bachelor’s degree and has her eye on the RELLIS Campus

“RELLIS is such an exciting environment. The students there are just buzzing,” Chmelar said. “You can tell they are where they want to be and I’d really love to continue with my education and be a part of that.”

Blinn’s HIT Program offers both an Associate of Applied Science degree and Medical Billing and Coding Specialist – Level 2 Certificate that can be completed entirely online. Graduates of Blinn’s HIT Program are prepared for careers as health information management (HIM) technicians, coders, documentation specialists, revenue cycle specialists, billers, patient advocates, and insurance specialists.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of health information technicians will increase 11% between 2018 and 2028, generating an additional 23,100 jobs. Health information technicians earn a median salary of $40,350.

For more information about the Blinn HIT Program, visit www.blinn.edu/health-information-technology.

Registration for Blinn’s Spring semester is open through Monday, Jan. 20, and the term begins on Tuesday, Jan. 21. College officials encourage early registration for convenient scheduling and placement in high-demand courses.

For enrollment or financial aid information, visit www.blinn.edu/admissions.

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