Name: Morgan Rhea
Hometown: Winona, MO
Currently Resides: Ellington, MO
Occupation: Midwifery Billing Specialist, Larsen Billing Service
All Degrees Received: Bachelor of Science-Biology, Missouri State University; Associate of Applied Science-Health Information Technology, Missouri State University-West Plains
“I chose Missouri State University-West Plains because I was looking for a second degree.”
Morgan Rhea had successfully completed a bachelor’s degree in biology, but her recent engagement left her looking for a different degree, preferably one in the medical field, that could be completed quickly and near her home in Shannon County.
“I wanted a school that would take my transfer credits, and I was recently engaged, so I wanted a school that was close to home that would allow me to commute, as well as continue to work part time,” she explained. “I wanted to be able to obtain that degree in a short period of time without having to go to multiple schools.”
Missouri State-West Plains’ Associate of Applied Science degree in Health Information Technology (HIT) fit the bill. “I was able to obtain an associate’s degree in one year, since I was able to transfer all of my credits and take more than the maximum 18 credit hours per semester,” she said.
“My advisor, Tresa Ryan, was AMAZING!”
Morgan credits her successful completion of the degree to Ryan, an assistant professor and the program’s director. “She works hard to ensure her students are learning the necessary skills of the HIT program. She goes above and beyond to make sure her students understand what they are doing and have ample help and resources to be successful,” Morgan said.
Ryan also organized a job fair and mock interviews for students in the program that helped Morgan make contacts with potential employers and prepare for future interviews. In addition, students were required to complete an internship to learn how the skills applied in real world settings.
“A year after my internship, the company I interned with actually reached out to me because they had a position open and they were very impressed with the knowledge and skills I had demonstrated during my time with them,” Morgan said. “The Missouri State-West Plains HIT program provided me with all of the knowledge and skills I needed to be a successful medical coder.”
“I was able to help my community by working in the local, non-profit clinic.”
After completing the degree in August 2017, Morgan passed the four-hour American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) accreditation test to become a certified coding specialist. She spent a year working outside the home at the non-profit clinic in Ellington and just recently began her first at-home job working part time for a billing service based in Utah that contracts with birthing centers and midwives.
“My goal when I started the HIT program was to be able to be successful enough that I could work from home while I grow my family, and I have done just that,” Morgan said. “With this certification, I have been eligible for jobs that require certification and offer higher pay. Having a sound knowledge of billing and coding has been extremely beneficial in helping me accomplish these services for my community.
“If you are looking for a degree in the medical field and want to be able to work from home, definitely pursue the HIT program. You will be fully prepared when you are ready to enter the workforce,” she said.