Your browser is unsupported

We recommend using the latest version of IE11, Edge, Chrome, Firefox or Safari.

Health Information Management (HIM): UIC Clinical Assistant Professor and HIM Graduate Program Director, Lois Hitchcock, leads with profound industry expertise

Learn about the impact UIC Clinical Assistant Professor and HIM Graduate Program Director, Lois Hitchcock, has on her students and the dynamic world of Health Information Management.

UIC Clinical Assistant Professor and HIM Graduate Program Director, Lois Hitchcock, smiles at camera

The landscape of HIM has undergone a transformative journey over the years, shaped by technological advancements and the ever-expanding healthcare industry. With over 40 years of experience in Health Information Management (HIM), Lois Hitchcock, MHA, RHIA, FAHIMA, has seen the industry undergo significant changes.

Taking on a variety of director roles throughout her career journey, Hitchcock has undertaken pivotal initiatives that have included seamlessly merging outpatient and inpatient medical record departments for a medical center and overseeing the establishment and development for a behavioral health facility. Thinking she would take a brief hiatus in her career; Hitchcock received a call to teach one HIM course at UIC. Fast forward 20 years, and Hitchcock has not only embraced the role of Clinical Assistant Professor but has taken the position of Program Director for UIC’s online HIM graduate programs.

Read about the industry experience and commitment that fuels Hitchcock’s impact on her students and the dynamic world of HIM.

Tell us a little about yourself.

My interest in the health information field began during my high school years when I served as a candy striper, volunteering at the local hospital. I really liked the hospital environment, but I knew that direct patient care was not for me. I went on to earn my B.A. in Health Information Administration from the College of St. Scholastica and my M.S. in Healthcare Administration from the University of Laverne.

I always found myself in director roles overseeing organizations undergoing change. Right out of school, I was hired as a Director of Medical Records at a small specialty hospital where I helped to implement changes such as filing records by numbers instead of names and changing to word processors from typewriters. I worked on the opening of Linden Oaks Hospital in Naperville, IL and served on the hospital’s development team for medical records developing policies, procedures, equipment, and staffing. Prior to coming to UIC, I worked at Loyola University Medical Center in Maywood, IL where I helped merged the outpatient and inpatient medical record departments which had existed independently for the prior two decades.

Why did you decide to join the online Health Information Management (HIM) program?

It was more like a fall into it. I always really liked being involved with students and being involved with UIC. Prior to starting at UIC, I had three kids, and I was planning on staying home for a while. I was familiar with the people who were running the HIM program at the time, because while I was working at Linden Oaks Hospital, I would come in as a guest speaker during the psychiatric records module. That’s until I got a call from the UIC HIM program, because they needed somebody to teach one class. I found a lot of enjoyment in creating projects and assignments, so one class turned into two classes. I’ve now been a HIM faculty member for over 20 years. I became a Clinical Assistant Professor in 2009 and the HIM Graduate Program Director in 2021.

As the HIM Graduate Program Director, how do you keep the program’s curriculum up to date?

Following their graduation, HIM students will take the Registered Health Information Administrators (RHIA) exam. Due to this exam, the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) and the Commission on Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management (CAHIIM) have a very specific set of standards for every HIM program, so we don’t have a lot of latitude to decide. Although we update our courses each year with up-to-date materials, we really follow the standards to develop our courses. The standards are updated every few years so when that happens, we sit down as a group with the six different domains and the different standards and update the curriculum. We want to make sure we’re teaching everything that’s going to be covered on the RHIA exam.

What are the valuable skills and knowledge students can look forward to learning or developing in your courses?

I think of my courses in two sets. The first set is made up of two courses, BHIS 480: Management and Business Practices and HIM 361: Human Resource Management, which is all about leadership and management. Students will learn what it takes to run a department, such as writing policies, procedures, conducting job analysis, and creating job descriptions. We also talk about diversity plans, and health law and employment law. When students graduate, they’re ready to step into a management or supervisory role.

The second set of courses, HIM 337: Analysis of Health Care Data and HIM: 374 Health Information Research, are all about healthcare data analytics and research. Data analytics has really become an important skill that employers are looking for. A lot of our graduates are in data analytics, and one specifically works in the UI Health emergency room where they are analyzing patient data. The example I always give my students is that when you hear on the news that the flu is worse this year than last year, they only know that because of the data HIM professionals provide to them.

What is the most important thing you have learned about having a successful career in HIM that you would like to pass on to people considering the field?

The HIM field is so flexible. There’s a lot of potential in this field, and there are so many career opportunities with this kind of degree. If you want to get into records management and information governance, you can work in a hospital. If you want to work in compliance or privacy and security, you can work in independent clinics or consulting. If you want to work in data analytics, you can work inresearch or quality and risk management. We have graduates in pharmaceutical research companies, such as Abbott Labs. Legal firms hire HIM professionals to evaluate records in legal cases.

I tell my students that if they aren’t tied down, now is an opportune moment to explore travel opportunities and seek employment in fields like consulting. On the other hand, for those with families and a need to stay close to home, there are excellent job prospects available at local hospitals or clinics. You can choose a job based on what you want out of your career.

Request Info
Apply Now