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STC Students Impress Health Care Professionals with Information Security Expertise

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Graduating class of 2024 from STC’s Health Information Technology program recently delivered a presentation to the Rio Grande Valley Health Information Management Association (RGVHIMA). STC Image
Graduating class of 2024 from STC’s Health Information Technology program recently delivered a presentation to the Rio Grande Valley Health Information Management Association (RGVHIMA). STC Image
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By Selene Rodriguez

In celebration of Health Information Professionals Week, the graduating class of 2024 from South Texas College’s Health Information Technology program recently delivered a presentation to the Rio Grande Valley Health Information Management Association (RGVHIMA), where two STC students were also awarded their annual scholarship.

“The feedback was exceptional. This annual tradition not only celebrates our profession, but also instills confidence in our students, helping them realize they are truly ready to enter the workforce,” said STC Instructor Rosa Solis. “They were tested by all these professionals who are already in the field, and I’m pleased for them to recognize their own expertise. With graduation on the horizon, it’s all truly gratifying.”

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STC students Ismael Benitez and Maritza Alaniz were the recipients of this year’s RGVHIMA’s annual scholarship. STC Image

With an audience of over 40 RGVHIMA members, both virtually and in-person, the cohort of 15 students delivered a 45-minute detailed presentation on Information Security in Health Care, covering critical topics such as patient security guidelines and the consequences of non-compliance, including the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and other privacy regulations.

“As part of a national association, it’s crucial for us to give back. Involving our students even before they enter the workforce helps us contribute to the advancement of our profession,” said RGVHIMA Secretary and Treasurer Beatriz Martinez-Leal. “The entire class delivered a fantastic presentation, showcasing their skills. We’re thrilled for the next generation to join us in this remarkable profession, often overlooked. Shedding light on our work behind the scenes is something we’re passionate about.”

Health Information Professionals Week (April 15-19) is presented by the American Health Information Management Association to help raise awareness about the profession and the value they bring to the medical process overall. 

It acknowledges those who handle medical data to ensure accuracy, security and access, playing a vital role in health care by helping providers make informed decisions, improving patient care and following regulations, ultimately ensuring effective health care delivery.

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“I always knew I wanted to work in health care, but patient care wasn’t my path,” said soon-to-be Health Information Technology graduate Maritza Alaniz. “My practicum experience at STC has shown me the vital role we play in every organization, from medical coding to managing records. We’re making a difference every step of the way.”

Alaniz, 30, was named one of the recipients of the annual RGVHIMA scholarship. She expressed her gratitude to STC for equipping her with the resources to pursue a career she’s passionate about.

The RGVHIMA’s $500 scholarship is intended to support students in covering the costs of their licensure exams, with the aim of encouraging them to stay on their career path and ultimately increasing the number of professionals in the field.

Alaniz joined the program when her husband, a sonographer, proposed the idea of opening a business, prompting her to explore how she could assist, particularly with paperwork and the legal aspects. 

“I’ve received job offers at both my practicum sites, much like many of my classmates; some have already begun working,” she said. “Partnering with my husband is undoubtedly my ultimate goal, but for now, I’m excited to graduate and explore other opportunities.”

Ismael Benitez, 29, the other recipient, echoed her sentiment, expressing gratitude for his practicum experience, which led to him securing a leadership role at DHR Health. 

“My favorite part of the program has been the practicum. It’s also been the most challenging part, but everything you study and learn up to that point finally clicks when you’re actually in practice,” he said. “I completed my hours at DHR Health, made a great impression, and was hired as a team lead in the medical records department. Without STC, I don’t think that would’ve been possible, so I’m grateful for the opportunities.”

With graduation just weeks away, both students have expressed their gratitude for being part of such a dedicated field that has the potential to help so many. 

“If you’re interested in health care, this profession offers a meaningful way to contribute. Direct patient interaction isn’t for everyone, but there are countless opportunities in this field,” said Alaniz. “After switching between psychology and nursing majors for years, I finally found my place. I would advise future health care professionals to not be afraid to try something new and start over, like I did.”

For more information on STC’s Health Information Technology program, visit southtexascollege.edu/academics/hmas/ or call 956-872-3027.

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