Moving Up the Ladder
LISA KAMPA '03 never intended to work in healthcare. Nor did she imagine she would be in charge of health information services for Gillette Children's Specialty Healthcare in St. Paul. She can thank her alma mater for that.
Kampa was perfectly happy working as a legal secretary. But when she tried to find a job after staying at home with her three young children, there were no legal positions to be had. She took a part-time job as a transcriptionist at Hazelden, the worldrenowned alcohol- and drug-rehabilitation center.
A year later, when her husband was laid off and she needed more income, Kampa accepted a full-time job as a medical transcriptionist at Chisago Lakes Medical Center and got a glimpse of her future.
"I noticed all the functions that the director of medical records performed," she says. "And I thought, 'This is something that I could go back to school for.'"
On the advice of two colleagues in the medical coding department, Kampa enrolled in St. Catherine's health information specialist program in 1998.
"I was 42 and money was tight, but I really liked the idea of doing it," she says. "I thought that I would do the two-year program, then see if I could make the jump into management and, with the increase in salary, go on for the four-year program."
Everything turned out as planned. Just days before graduating in May 2000, Kampa met the director of Health Information Management (HIM) at Regions Hospital in St. Paul. The woman was looking for a new manager for the hospital's chart room, and she was impressed with Kampa's experience, maturity and ambition."She realized that I was not the typical new grad," Kampa says.
A glimpse of the future
Besides providing the salary bump Kampa needed, the job also showed her how the medical records field was evolving to an electronic format. "I could see a lot of opportunity in that," she says. So even as she worked full time at Regions Hospital, she enrolled in St. Catherine's Weekend College health information management program.
"My whole intent through all of this was to find something interesting to do that would help me reach my ultimate goal of getting my kids through college," Kampa says. "I knew that I had to keep going [in school] if I was going to be able to provide that for them."
Kampa's degree in health information management also helped her move up the ladder professionally. Today, she holds a director-level position at Gillette Children's Specialty Healthcare, performing the job she had seen her own boss do at Chisago Lakes a dozen years ago.
But Kampa isn't done yet. Not long after finishing St. Catherine's HIM program, she began St. Catherine's master of arts in organizational leadership (MAOL) program.
She often encourages other young women who express an interest in healthcare to consider St. Catherine's. "That's been one of my passions, to talk to young women and ask them if they've ever considered going to school for this," she says.
Although the current shortage of nurses has received a lot of attention, Kampa says many other areas in healthcare - physical therapy, occupational therapy and other fields in which St. Catherine's offers programs - also are suffering. "Every area of healthcare will be seeing huge shortages, including health information," she says. "This is a great field."
Kampa has seen dramatic changes during the 15-plus years she has worked in medical information. "The days of walking in off the street and working in a healthcare setting without any basic training are over," she says. "That's where St. Catherine's does a good job. The one-year or two-year programs prepare you for so many roles in a hospital setting."
St. Catherine's continues to prepare Kampa for new roles in healthcare, even those she can't yet imagine. "St. Kate's really pushes you to research and to see what's out there," she says. "It's truly been the best experience for me."
— Sara Gilbert