Tina Cikanek, MEd, RHIA, CCS

Tina Cikanek, MBA, RHIA, CCSTina Cikanek, MEd, RHIA, CCS, served ArHIMA as the 2021-2022 President.

How did you hear about the HIM field?

I was already in the healthcare field as an office manager but learned more about health information management from a conversation I had with Claudia Brigham who was going to school at UAMS to get her degree in health information management. She explained what courses she was taking, and I knew those courses would help me further my career.

Where did you go to school?
I went to school through UAMS’s online program.

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?
I have always had individuals that have made me a better person. These are individuals that become your mentors. Sara Daniel and Tonya Mays were instrumental in my volunteering for the ArHIMA Board. From there they kept throwing my name out there. LOL. I feel at some point you must be able to give back to the profession.

How long have you worked in this industry?
I have been in healthcare since 1992. First as a coder then I worked my way up to office manager and then as practice administrator.

Which has been more valuable in your career, your education or your experience?
There is value in both work experience and in education. In my opinion, you must find something you enjoy then become the very best at it. I learned initially from others through on the job training. Once I knew I enjoyed my work, I went to school to obtain higher level skills that were not taught on the job. So there is practical value in both.

What was your first job?
My first job was as a coder back in the day when all of the insurance forms were completed by hand.

Tell us a little bit about your career?
I have held many hats over my lifetime. I started my career in healthcare after my career in banking, first as a coder for an ophthalmology practice that had two physicians. One of the doctors went out on his own and asked me to become his office manager. He later left the practice to become a lawyer and another physician asked me to become his office manager. We grew very rapidly in a short amount of time from one major clinic to two full-time clinics and two surgery centers. I found that healthcare was rapidly changing, and I had to keep up with those changes. This is one of the reasons I chose health information management. A lot of this was before the Internet became a thing. After 20 years working for the same physician, I went to work for Northwest Arkansas Community College to start a new health information management program. That was over 10 years ago.

What part of your career do you love?
Having the privilege to help students learn about health information management while continuing to mentor others.

What are a couple of pieces of advice you would give to someone who is just starting their career?
Our career is rapidly changing so look for opportunities to grow through continuing to learn and gain new skills. There are always ways to grow in health information management. Check out opportunities such as data analytics, revenue cycle management, social determinants of health and artificial intelligence.

What kind of advice do you give students today who are going through life and not seeing the possibilities?
Network! Network! Network! Networking is the most effective way to learn about careers. I’m always asking about how someone got from point A to point B. You learn about trends within your field. Create a professional LinkedIn profile and start connecting.

What kind of advice do you give to someone who is in the earlier part of their career about how to reach the top?
Same advice I give to those not seeing the possibilities.

What is the best career lesson you’ve learned so far?
You create your own opportunities.

What advice do you have for someone new to the industry?
Find a mentor(s). It does not mean that it has to be just one. Learn from the best. If you do not know anyone reach out to ArHIMA and/or AHIMA.

Is there a quote that motivates you?
She thought she could so she did. I have had this quote in my office (s) for as long as I can remember.

What made you decide to run for President of ArHIMA?
I am not sure it was an actual decision on my part. LOL But the best part was knowing there were so many experienced individuals that came before me to lean on.

What did you learn from being President?
I learned I did not have to do it on my own, because I had a great team! If you are thinking about running for the office of President, I wish you the best team ever.

What would you say to someone who is thinking about placing their name on the ballot for the President-Elect position?
If you are thinking about running for the office of President, I wish you the best team ever.