By Mary Butler
Among the many health information management (HIM) professionals who will attend the AHIMA20 Virtual Conference is Austin Davert, a 22-year-old Davenport University senior from Bay City, MI.
The fact that AHIMA20 became a completely virtual event this year was welcome news to Davert, who was born with osteogenesis imperfect III and hasn’t been able to travel to any previous AHIMA conferences due to the expense and his disability.
We spoke with Davert recently to find out what drew him to a career and HIM and what he’s hoping to learn at AHIMA20.
This interview was edited for length and clarity.
AHIMA20: How did you find HIM and coding?
Davert: I was very indecisive in high school. I originally thought about doing something with computers. I was in health tech and a marketing health class during my junior year of high school and discovered that I really wanted to do something in the healthcare field. One of my teachers recommended that I look into health information management.
HIM was the perfect field for me. I did a lot of research and really got interested in it, particularly coding, but I’m still kind of searching what area I want to go into with HIM. Currently, I’m in my senior year at Davenport University. I’ll graduate in April 2021, so that’s pretty exciting.
AHIMA20: Did you go straight to Davenport University after high school?
Davert: Yeah—once I figured out that I wanted to get into healthcare, I job-shadowed at healthcare facilities. I shadowed somebody in billing, the emergency department, a pharmacy, a cardiac cath lab, as a physician’s assistant. I tried to get a real background in healthcare before I made my decision. When I did more research on HIM, I found it was perfect for me.
I had an internship at a skilled-nursing facility with their medical records person. I really liked it. I would probably prefer a hospital environment for HIM, but I’m really enjoying my experience there.
I also got to shadow the medical records director, and we discussed healthcare privacy, clinical documentation, data and coding. I got to shadow the MDS person there. I really got a good range of experiences and I really enjoyed my time.
AHIMA20: Do you feel like your disability makes you appreciate healthcare more or does that drive your interest in the field?
Davert: That’s really one reason I got into healthcare, having so many personal stories. I’ve had 25 surgeries in my lifetime and over 100 fractures, so I’ve obviously experienced it quite a bit. I really get to experience healthcare and it got me interested in the field.
“HIM was the perfect field for me. I did a lot of research and really got interested in it, particularly coding, but I’m still kind of searching what area I want to go into with HIM. Currently, I’m in my senior year at Davenport University. I’ll graduate in April 2021.”
AHIMA20: How do you explain osteogenesis imperfecta III to the lay person?
Davert: It causes my bones to be more fragile. I’m only 3 feet, 4 inches tall. I use a wheelchair to get around mainly, but I also use a walker at home. But I work hard and don’t let it stop me from doing what I want to do. I just really love my life and I hope to share my story
AHIMA20: Will AHIMA20 be the first AHIMA event you participated in?
Davert: This will be my first one. I did a little bit of research on AHIMA, and I knew that you had conferences, but they were mostly far away from where I live and I didn’t think I’d be going for quite a few years. But with the COVID situation, I saw that it went virtual and I went, “Oh my gosh, this is the perfect time.” I saw that I got quite a discount being a student member. It’d be a shame not to take this opportunity.
AHIMA20: What are you most looking forward to?
Davert: The Clinical Coding track. I’m really hoping to go into coding once I get out of school and become an inpatient coder and working my way up the ladder. I’m hoping I can take a look at clinical coding, documentation, and privacy and security. I haven’t made my schedule of all the sessions I want to attend yet, but I’m interested in seeing what sessions I can attend and do some networking. It’s going to be a great experience. I really like how AHIMA set it up. You get to decide what you want to see and experience. I’m actually still in college classes right now, but I’m going to work ahead because I’m online so I can get enough time to fully experience the conference.
Mary Butler (firstname.lastname@example.org) is senior editor of the Journal of AHIMA.