Elizabeth Nazarchyk

  • SchoolKaplan University
  • DisciplineAssociate of Science in Health Information Technology
  • Year in SchoolLast
  • Future GoalsFinish schooling, and find a managerial position within the health information department of a hospital near her home in Orlando, Florida

“I chose to take classes from Kaplan University because I appreciated the way they present their courses. They give live seminars that allow you to hear instructors, just like you would if you were in a physical classroom. A lot of schools didn’t offer that option, and that was the deciding factor for me.”

What does an associates degree in health information technology entail?

An associates degree in health information technology teaches students what they need to know to run a medical records office. It typically takes students about 2 years to complete the program, which includes general education classes in addition to specialized courses.

What factors went into your decision to pursue your associates degree online?

My responsibilities to my family was the main factor that went into my choice to pursue my associates degree online. At the time that I signed up for this program, I was pregnant. I knew that I wouldn’t be able to make it to a physical campus every night while taking care of a newborn, so I decided to go online.

What are the main reasons you chose to get your degree from Kaplan University as opposed to any other online school?

I chose to take classes from Kaplan University because I appreciated the way they present their courses. They give live seminars that allow you to hear instructors, just like you would if you were in a physical classroom. A lot of schools didn’t offer that option, and that was the deciding factor for me.

What are your program requirements?

My program takes 2 years to complete if you take 2 classes per term. You learn the roles of a medical records keeper through classes like medical laws and ethics, medical billing and coding, and pharmacology. You also build a medical background through classes like anatomy and physiology. And you get a general education through classes like science, math and English.

The best part of my program is the amount of interaction with peers that we experience. It is almost like being in a classroom because we have a discussion board that helps facilitate conversation so that everybody stays involved with learning.

On average, how many students are in each of your classes?

The most students I have seen in a class is 33, but I also had a class last term with only 7 students. The seminars have limited spaces so that the instructor can give you a sufficient amount of individual attention.

The students in my classes don’t have any particular quality in common, except that there are more women than men. There is a range of ages from 19 to about 60, and people in my classes live all over the country.

How are class materials presented?

Class materials are presented primarily through an online discussion board where we are required to post our thoughts and respond to other students’ posts. Those discussion board posts revolve around the material covered in the chapters we read in our textbooks each week. We also have lectures, which I appreciate because I can interact with other students and talk to my instructor in real time, like in a traditional classroom.

The benefit to this class presentation style is that the material is always available for you online, so you don’t have to take notes. But the downside is that you might not get a question answered for a day or 2 since instructors are remote. Even if I have an urgent question, it doesn’t always get answered right away.

What are the most and least useful classes that you have taken?

The most useful class I have taken so far is medical laws and ethics, because it is a major part of the job I want to have. As a medical office worker, I will have access to a lot of sensitive information. Medical laws and ethics has showed me the appropriate way to handle that information.

However, I think the least useful class that I took was environmental science. It wasn’t related to medicine in any way. Since this is an associates program, I expected the classes I took to be more focused on practical applications.

Will you complete a practicum component in your program?

Yes, part of this program is to complete an externship, which is like a short-term internship, as part of our capstone class. It requires 90 hours of on-the-job experience in a medical records office. I am very excited about the externship because I think it will be the deciding factor in whether or not I have chosen the right career path.

Do you have an advisor to assist you throughout your program?

I have a group of advisors. If I encounter any problems, I e-mail the group and they always make sure that the issue is fixed. For example, once my registration for a certain class didn’t go through properly. But I e-mailed my advising group and the problem was taken care of.

How do you interact with your professors?

I usually interact with my instructors though e-mail, but they provide a phone number and an instant-messaging ID too. They try to make themselves available to us. Most of them set up a 4-hour window during the day when it is best to get ahold of them.

How knowledgeable do you feel your professors are?

I think the instructors at Kaplan University are very knowledgeable about the subjects they teach, because most of them have several years of work experience in their subject areas. I think that is an important element, because it means that our instructors are current with their information.

Are you able to get to know your professors on a personal basis?

No, I am not able to get to know my instructors personally. They typically share a biography at the beginning of class that tells us about their family and their academic background, but that is the extent of personal conversation.

Based on your experience so far, is there anything you would have done differently in pursuing your associates degree online?

I would not do anything differently about pursuing my associates degree online because this is the best choice that I could have made, given my circumstances. But I would caution others that they should not enter this program if they are not dedicated to their own success. Even though the program is flexible, you still have to complete the same amount of work by a certain time.