Melissa Zavadil, RHIT, CCS, CPMA, CRC, COC

Melissa Zavadil, RHIT, CCS, CPMA, CRC, COC​, served ArHIMA as the 2022-2023 President.

How did you hear about the HIM field?
I think this field found me. In a moment of my life (mid 20’s) when I was dissatisfied with dead-end jobs, I began searching the degree plan options at the local community college. I knew I wanted to try healthcare as then the possibilities seemed more promising for a longer career pathway. I guess it was the right choice. I am still here, almost 30 years later. I was not sure about it to start but I love what I do and so happy I stayed the course. The opportunities and growth I have gained along the way has been of great value and a rewarding career.

Where did you go to school?
National Park College in Hot Springs Arkansas.

Did you have an educator(s) who assisted you, went above and beyond for you, made you want to become a volunteer for ArHIMA, or helped shape you into the professional you are today?
Many, many along the way and these two know how much they have influenced my life and now I get the privilege to work right alongside of them, that is Susan Wallace and Chris Merle.

How long have you worked in this industry?
November of 2024 will mark 30th anniversary for me in the HIM industry.  So much about HIM has changed in the last 30 years.

Which has been more valuable in your career, your education, or your experience?
You really must marry the two because they go hand in hand.  I have been blessed over the 30 years in HIM to have experienced many different career pathways in HIM through Medical Records processing that led me to production coding and supervision to the auditing and consultant.  Both education and these past experiences have led me to where I am today.

What was your first job?
Working in the restaurant industry in our family catfish business.  I worked every job in that industry, from busing tables, cleaning dishes, food prep, cashier and waiting tables.  If there was a job to be had in that restaurant, I did it.

Tell us a little bit about your career.
I have been afforded the opportunity to work in the HIM Consulting business with ACS performing record reviews for outpatient hospitals.  This is a career pathway that I never imagined to have achieved in my career.  It was a mere dream that I did not put in my plans to grasp.  But, here I am.  The ACS team saw the potential that I did not knew I had and worked with me to further develop me career goals.  I love working in this field the most and could not imagine doing anything else.

What part of your career do you love?
Working with clients to help them better understand Medicare and ACO coding, billing, and reporting guidelines.  I really like helping Clinical Documentation Experts and physicians to improve documentation.

What are a couple of pieces of advice you would give to someone who is just starting their career?
Stay with it!  Do not give up.  The road sometimes is very long to get to where you intend to be, it is worth the journey.

What kind of advice do you give students today who are going through life and not seeing the possibilities?
Same advice as above, but also use every opportunity you can to partner with the experts in the fields you desire to be in.  Sign up to be a mentee in the ArHIMA program.  Gain a mentor, they are worth their weight in gold.

What kind of advice do you give to someone who is in the earlier part of their career about how to reach the top?
Network as much as possible.  Get out there among your peers, even if you are a remote coder at home.  Do not get stagnate in the seclusion of your home, volunteer for the organization.

What is the best career lesson you have learned so far?
Perseverance. Even if you feel your career outlook is not what you planned on it being, stay the course.  Healthcare is always evolving, and the landscape is always changing.  An opportunity to change with it will also come your way.  Perseverance!

What is your favorite part of your job?
Working with the industry best in Healthcare Consulting.

How do you manage your time?
It is a constant struggle to manage time between family and career, particularly working remotely. My best options are creating a schedule I can live with through the week and keep my weekends schedule free as much as possible.  If I do not make time to break free, it becomes unmanageable.

What do you do at work daily?
Review records and help our clients by identifying opportunities for improvement and helping them come up with a plan of action to resolve coding, documentation, and billing challenges in the future. We follow/up with our hospitals every few months, provide education opportunities and continue to serve and support them continuously.  We love our hospitals!

What advice do you have for someone new to the industry?
I would tell them the same as I told my children growing up. Do what you love, because you are going to be doing it for the rest of year life.  If you are new to the HIM industry, talk with those who are doing what you want to work toward that has been in the field for a long time.  They will give you a glimpse of your future in that pathway.

Is there a quote that motivates you?
Yes, “if it does not challenge you, it does not change you.” No truer words were ever spoken.

Who inspires you?
I do not think there is any room on this page to give credit to all those who have inspired me along the way. The top of the list has to go to my dad, who showed me what value there is in working hard for what you earn, even if it’s not a lot.  You gain so much more in the process than the final reward.  That is what the service industry taught me through my dad and I that has served me well throughout all my career.

How do you create motivation for yourself and for your team?
Faith-based encouragement, support, and recognition.

How do you maintain work-life balance?
It is hard but knowing that work will always need to be done, it will still be there tomorrow. But today will pass too quickly.  Never, ever pass up the opportunity to Live, Love and Laugh with family.  Those are the most important things in this life.

What made you decide to run for President of ArHIMA?
I have been a volunteer for our organization in various committees for about 10 years. I had worked in the trenches with some of the most amazing people that come together to serve and support ArHIMA members which is second to none.  I wanted to contribute more and be a part of that story.

What did you learn from being President?
That ArHIMA has the most amazing and talented HIM professionals from all walks of life that enjoy coming together, year after year to help make our organization better for our membership.

What would you say to someone who is thinking about placing their name on the ballot for the President-Elect position?
Talk to those who have gone before you. We will be honest.  It does take some time but it is time worth the effort if you can contribute it along with your expertise.  Share you with our group.  It will be an experience like none other.