Retired Civil Servant Gives Back to HIM
MEMBER PROFILE s
Teresa Foley, MA, RHIA,
CPHQ, FAHIMA attends
religiously and works to fund
HIM educations for veterans.
Teresa Foley, MA, RHIA, CPHQ, FAHIMA, and her husband Colonel (Ret)
Brian Foley, MEd, MHA, CPHQ, FACHE, are emeritus members of AHIMA
and have been attending AHIMA’s Convention and Exhibit together for more
than 20 years. And in their respective retirements, they have become perhaps
even more involved with AHIMA and the AHIMA Foundation. Teresa spoke
with AHIMA Advantage about her career, life as a military spouse, and balancing
those two things with her diagnosis of multiple sclerosis (MS).
Q: What did you study in college and
how did you find your way to health
information management (HIM)?
A: My major in college was French
and Spanish. I loved languages and
I’ve found languages very helpful
throughout my entire career. When I
was student teaching, I decided that
I was more interested in HIM than
teaching. I had worked in the medical
record department of Noble Hospital
in Westfield, MA, during the summer
and breaks. I was fortunate to have
been told about the one-year post-baccalaureate United States Public
Health Service (USPHS) Health Record
Administration Program in Baltimore,
MD. I enrolled in that program as a
Civil Service excepted appointee. I also
have a master’s in healthcare services
Q: How did you become involved in
the AHIMA Foundation awards and
scholarships for veterans, wounded
warriors, and spouses of active duty
A: Brian and I were on the Board of the
Walter Reed Society, which provides
funding to the AHIMA Foundation for
spouses of active duty military, spouses
of veterans, veterans, and wounded
warriors. One reason the Walter Reed
Society funds the AHIMA Foundation
is because I had a very successful
career in HIM as a military spouse.
Also, wounded warriors were included
in this scholarship because I was very
successful in HIM despite having the
disability of MS.
Q: In what ways is HIM an ideal field for
A: It is also an ideal career field because
wherever the active duty military
member is transferred there are often
military treatment facilities. There is
also a demand for HIM professionals
in the civilian economy near military
bases. Even though we had many
moves while my husband was on active
duty for 30 years, I was always able to
find HIM employment.
Q: Did you get involved with the military
and Civil Service before or after you
met and married your husband, who
was in the military himself?
A: I married Brian in 1973 after I
graduated from the US PHS Health
Records Administration Program.
During my HIM career I was director
of medical records for three civilian
hospitals. I also held positions as a
consultant for civilian hospitals and
nursing homes and as an adjunct
and instructor in civilian colleges
and universities. I first became a
civil servant government worker at
Fitzsimmons Army Medical Center
in Denver, CO, in 1983. Following
that assignment, I became Director of
Medical Records for the 121 Evacuation
Hospital in Seoul, Korea. Upon my
return to the United States, I became
the health information consultant
for the Office of the Army Surgeon
General until my retirement.
Q: How has having a chronic condition
such as MS affected your career?
A: During my HIM career MS never
affected the performance of my duties
or responsibilities. MS affected my
mobility, but I never needed to modify
my job description to accomplish my
responsibilities. I was first diagnosed
with MS in 1973—the same year we
married. For many years I needed no
support mechanisms for my mobility.
Then I began to need a cane and
to wear an ankle foot orthotic. In
2007 I received the US Amy Medical
Command’s Disabled Employee of the
It should also be noted that during
my career we were also raising a son.
I had to balance my career, being a
mother, and being a wife with the
effects of the MS. Our son, Sean, is
now 40 years old and a major in the
US Marine Corps.
Q: What keeps you motivated?
A: I accepted my limitations from MS
and learned how to live with them.
For example, I had to accept that after
a full day of work that I would be
fatigued, and my mobility was limited
and had to rest. Brian was always
helping me with my limitations from
MS and the fatigue from working full
Q: How did Brian become a member of
AHIMA and why?
A: Brian became a member of AHIMA
when he was the Dean of Allied
Health and then Provost of the
Medical Education Campus of
Northern Virginia Community
College (NVCC), where there was
an HIM RHIT program. Brian was
also interested in educating spouses,
veterans, and wounded warriors about
a career in HIM. Brian always joked
“that the reason he became a member
of AHIMA is that it was a cheaper to
go to the AHIMA conferences if you
are a member!” v