An Interview with Kristeena Stiles
“Although I don’t know a lot about my classmates, I can say that they come from very diverse backgrounds. In my classes, there are people over the age of 50 getting their first degree and there are people as young as 18 who came to University of Phoenix just out of high school.”
Kristeena Stiles is a second-year student at University of Phoenix who is pursuing her Associates of Applied Science with a specialization in Healthcare Records. She currently lives in Akron, Ohio.
Kristeena chose to go to school online because she has to balance schoolwork with taking care of her 2 children. She liked studying healthcare records because she gets to see what it is like to work behind the scenes in the medical field.
In your own words, what is healthcare records?
Healthcare records mainly has to do with medical billing and coding, which is the process of recording patients’ medical information and passing it on to insurance companies for payment. After a doctor diagnoses a patient, someone in healthcare records matches that diagnoses to its corresponding numerical code. That code is passed on to insurance companies. The billing and coding system makes it easy for people who work in insurance to determine how much money a patient has to pay for their medical care.
Why did you choose to get an associates degree in healthcare records online?
I chose to get my associates degree online because it works out better for my family and my financial situation. I am a mother, and I want to be able to stay home with my family during the day. In addition, I can’t afford to go to school at a 4-year public university. For those reasons, it made more sense for me to go to school online.
What do you find most and least enjoyable about studying healthcare records?
I enjoy studying healthcare records because it is an interesting part of the medical industry that teaches me how to become part of a medical staff without having to deal with bodily functions. I am squeamish about things like blood, so I didn’t want to go into nursing. I also find this path of study to be interesting. In fact, the only aspect that I don’t like is that it seems like I don’t have enough hours in the day to accomplish everything that I am supposed to finish for class.
When you first considered studying healthcare records online what were your expectations?
When I began my healthcare records program, I knew that I would be heavily involved with billing patients. But I didn’t realize that I would have to memorize so many different healthcare codes. Healthcare records programs require students to be much more detail-oriented than I had imagined.
What kinds of classes have you taken in your healthcare records program?
The healthcare records program at University of Phoenix is an associates degree, so it blends general education classes like psychology and communication with more specialized classes that are tailored towards medical skills. For instance, I have taken specialized classes in nutrition, billing records and medical coding.
Which of these classes do you think will be most valuable for your future goals?
I know that I will use the information I learned in my billing records class every day, so that is probably the most useful. But I think that all of my classes will be valuable to me in the future, because you need to have a well-rounded education in order to relate to different people.
What resources do you use to help you succeed in your studies?
University of Phoenix provides its students with a variety of resources to help us succeed, and the resource I use most often is the plagiarism checker. If you go onto the University of Phoenix website and check out the writing center, you can send in your paper to make sure you didn’t accidentally copy a phrase or forget to cite your sources. It is very helpful.
There is also a tutoring center that I have used to study math. All you have to do is log in to the student website and got to the math center. You click on the specific math class you are taking and you enter the problem that you are stuck with. Then a live teacher will work out the problem with you and explain it in more detail so you can see how to get to the answer.
Have you done an internship in your field?
No, I am not required to complete an internship component for my associates degree in healthcare records.
How do you interact with your professors?
I interact with my professors through a private messaging system that is set up through the University of Phoenix website. They also give out their cell-phone number and offer specific times and dates that you can call them. But if I need any more details or have additional questions about an assignment, I can simply write to my professors. They always respond within 24 hours.
Are you able to interact with your peers while studying online?
I am not in school to make friends, so I haven’t put much effort into socializing. I prefer to keep to myself. But if I wanted to reach out, I could use a new message board that University of Phoenix just set up to let you talk to the members inside your class. You can click on the instant message board on the class website and chat with other students or you can get in a group chat for bigger conversations.
Although I don’t know a lot about my classmates, I can say that they come from very diverse backgrounds. In my classes, there are people over the age of 50 getting their first degree and there are people as young as 18 who came to University of Phoenix just out of high school. There are mothers, fathers, soldiers, grandparents, and people who have been laid off from work. It seems like everybody has their own story.
What personality traits do you think would help a student to succeed in a healthcare records program and what traits would hinder success?
I think that it is very important to have the ability to motivate yourself if you are going to enter an online healthcare records program. Nobody is there to make sure you do your work, so you have to rely on your own sense of concentration to stay focused when doing class work. If you are unmotivated, you will not succeed in this program.
What is your weekly schedule?
My schedule is a juggling act between taking care of my kids and minding my schoolwork, which adds up to about 15 hours each week . I try to get some homework done before I wake my oldest child up for school. But I also have a baby, so I have to alternate feeding and changing her with the schoolwork. That means I can’t get very much done at once, which can be very challenging.
What are your plans for after graduation?
After I graduate with my associates degree, I am going to start my bachelors degree in psychology. I think it is an interesting subject because I have family members who have depression and schizophrenia, and I want to learn why their minds are like that.
Now that you have completed 2 years of your healthcare records program, if you could go back to high school, what would you do differently?
I would not change anything about high school, but I would have liked to finish college the first time I went, which was right after high school. I had to drop out partway through my program after getting pregnant. But I wouldn’t change anything about the last few years, because going to school online has been a good experience for me.
What advice do you have for students who are interested in studying healthcare records online?
Students need to be detail-oriented and motivated in order to study healthcare records online. If they can’t pay attention to detail, they will get buried in the small pieces of information that they have to memorize. And if they aren’t motivated, they won’t be able to finish the program. Online school is much more difficult than simply showing up to a classroom to take notes, because you have to do it all yourself.