At 48, Cheryl Craig hit the proverbial ‘bump in the road’ and had to make a new start. Determination and courage made it possible for Cheryl to accomplish a dream of hers and finish her education. Now Cheryl is helping others in her profession get the help that she received when she went back to school.
Cheryl was born in Ft. Worth, TX to a physician and a nurse. Moving several times through the years, she graduated from high school in Tahoka, TX. After high school, Cheryl went to Angelo State University to further her education but dropped out to get married.
After that ‘”bump in the road,” Cheryl moved back to the Midland area to “start life again.” With a fresh start, Cheryl had to figure out exactly what she wanted to do with this new opportunity.
Cheryl explained, “I knew that my background was in medicine and where I wanted to be, so I thought about what degree programs were available that I could pursue that weren’t clinical. I had managed medical offices for many years but did not have the education to back up the experience.”
Cheryl decided to go back to school to get that education. She got in contact with Melinda Teel, program chair of MC’s Health Information Management department.
“She was very helpful and steered me in the right directions,” said Cheryl.
Cheryl took several basic courses and some health information technology courses to help her determine whether to get an associate degree or continue and get a bachelor’s degree. After two years, Cheryl received an associate degree in Health Information Technology from Midland College and then continued at Texas State University to receive a bachelor’s of Health Information Management.
Getting a college degree can be difficult when one has been out of the education environment for so long. However, Cheryl proved that it can be done at any age, even while working full-time.
“Going back to school after all those years can be kind of intimidating. But it was great! There was no stigmatism in the classes. The professors and students treated me the same. It was never uncomfortable,” said Cheryl.
After receiving the education to support the experience she already had, Cheryl has worked her way up to the Director of Health Information Management at Midland Memorial Hospital.
Cheryl explained, “I supervise 38 employees. We are the ‘keeper of the records’ in that we collect, manage, protect and disseminate the health information of our patients.”
Midland Memorial Hospital welcomes several MC Health Information Management (HIM) clinical students each semester. This allows them to get a better “feel” of what they will be doing once they finish their degrees. Cheryl has also welcomed seven Midland College HIM graduates to her staff in the Health Information Management Department.
Some may not understand exactly what Health Information Management does or why it is vital to healthcare.
Cheryl explained it best, saying, “The importance of what we do is really patient safety. The record is what tells the story from the beginning of their stay to the end of their stay. We have to make sure it is true and accurate for their safety, and continuation of care.”
This year Cheryl is the President of the Permian Basin Health Information Management Association, which is the local affiliate of the Texas and American Health Information Associations. She is also on the advisory board for the Health Information Management program at Midland College.
“I could not have asked for a better experience. The advisors helped tremendously. Anybody can do it at any age,” said Cheryl.
Cheryl hopes to get her master’s degree in the near future. She has one daughter, Shauna, who has two sets of twins.