AHIMA ADVANTAGE 5
An HIM Author and Educator Forges Her Own Path
MEMBER PROFILE s
Pamela C. Hess, MA, RHIA,
Pamela and her eldest son,
Nicolas Joye, RHIT.
For individuals with the right mindset, health information management (HIM) can be a
“choose your own adventure” kind of career. The clinical knowledge, understanding of
technology, and business acumen that an HIM background provides can open multiple
doors and paths to success.
That has been the experience for Pamela C. Hess, MA, RHIA, CDIP, CCS, an HIM
educator, consultant, doctoral candidate, and book author, whose passion for HIM has
taken her from New Orleans to Saudi Arabia, and numerous points between.
Hess knew at an early age that HIM was the field she wanted to pursue, thanks to a high
school career day video about the medical records administrator profession.
“They highlighted the fact that you learn a lot about health science, anatomy, physiology,
and that you also learn about math, data, epidemiology, statistics, and research. The thing
that really jumped out at me was the leadership roles—that medical records administrators
lead departments and HIM services in health systems,” Hess says. “Those were all things
that made me say, ‘Hey, I’m going to do this.’”
After high school, she enrolled at the University of Louisiana, where she finished her
Bachelor of Science in HIM degree in three years. Hess got two job offers before she even
graduated and ultimately went to work in a leadership position at the VA hospital in New
Orleans, a position she found to be rewarding and exciting.
Opportunities Abound—at Home and Abroad
Hess couldn’t pass up the opportunity to accept a year-long consulting position in Saudi
Arabia, where she worked as a systems analyst at National Medical Enterprises. Hess and
her husband ultimately decided to spend a second year working in Saudi Arabia as well.
Between the two stints in Saudi Arabia, Hess’s first son was born in the US. She considers
her experience there an adventure, since it gave her family the opportunity to explore a
new culture and travel in the region.
When she returned to the US, Hess took on the role of HIM director at what is now
Brookwood Baptist Health Medical Center in Birmingham, AL, where she worked before
accepting a job as a clinical site instructor in the BS-HIM program at the University of
Alabama. This served as her introduction to teaching at the college level, even though much
of her consulting work involved teaching. Over the years, she’s worked as a consultant for
Deloitte & Touché LLP, Navigant Consulting, Inc., Himagine Solutions, Accretive Health
(now R1 RCM), and MedAstute Consulting LLC, where she’s currently vice president of
strategy and operations. In these roles, she’s demonstrated a diverse skillset working on
projects that included designing software and collaborating with programmers to develop
HIM and CDI software. In her role as a subject matter expert at M*Model, she worked with
a design team to enhance the clinical documentation improvement software.
Hess has also seen volunteer work lead to new opportunities. While serving as the president
of the Arizona Health Information Management Association, a fellow board member asked
for assistance in developing the Bachelor of HIM program at Grand Canyon University
(GCU) in Phoenix, AZ. She volunteered to offer some assistance, which ultimately led to
an offer to lead the program. This led her to her current position, which is lead faculty for
healthcare informatics at GCU. She’s also been in the process of working on a doctorate in
business administration (DBA) since 2017, which she hopes to finish in in the fall of 2020.
Hess’s eldest son, Nicolas Joye, who has an RHIT, a bachelor’s degree in psychology, and a
master’s degree in health informatics, is in the same doctoral program as his mother. Hess
says that an HIM background is a good jumping off point to pursue advanced degrees—
particularly master’s and doctoral degrees—in not only HIM but also complementary fields,
such as public health, informatics, health administration, information technology, and
business. She says the DBA is a natural progression into the business side of healthcare. v
Hess knew at an early age
that HIM was the field she
wanted to pursue.