Dayna Shong, 39, works as an inpatient coder at Regions Hospital in Saint Paul, Minnesota, and is the winner of a GetEducated.com $1,000 Excellence in Online Education Scholarship. She will use the free college grant to pursue an online bachelor of science in health degree at Dakota State University.
After landing a job in retail, which paid the bills but did not provide a lot of personal satisfaction, Shong began looking through an occupational handbook at the library in search of a more satisfying career. Health administration immediately sparked her interest. In the fall of 2002, she signed up for an online course in Medical Terminology.
“I decided to take the most difficult class I could find to prove myself during my first semester. I studied harder than I ever have in my life,” explains Shong. “To this day, this is my favorite class. I found studying about anatomy, physiology, procedures, and vocabulary fascinating. I was hooked from day one.”She continues, “I earned an A in the class, thoroughly enjoyed myself, and realized that I was able to handle being in school while working full time.” After a positive experience with her first online course, Shong was convinced that online education would offer the best opportunities for her to pursue a bachelor of health degree. Shong is also grateful for the support and inspiration from her parents, as they have become driving factors to her success in distance learning.
Accreditation was the highest priority for Shong when choosing Dakota State University to pursue higher education. The Health Information Administration program is fully accredited by the Regional Board for the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.
Shong notes several other benefits that attracted her to medical distance learning. She explains, “The courses focus a great deal on health technology, professors are quick to respond (most often in the same day), and the website states high job placement statistics, indicating that DSU was the right decision.”
Employed at Regions Hospital for three years now, Shong applies what she is learning daily to her job. She began training in a team of 12 inpatient coders. After gaining experience with more difficult charts, she now works independently and reviews diagnoses for long-term patients.
Shong continues to expand her skills in the medical field as she prepares for a career in health administration. In 2006, she obtained an Associate of Science in Health Information Technology and earned her Registered Health Information Technician credential.
She concludes, “I am excited to be able to learn and grow as a student while preparing for the future. Further education will help me to contribute more to my job and community. My dream is to have the B.S. in Health Information Administration. An online college degree means making my dream a reality.”
GetEducated.com will continue to offer free college scholarships and grants to online students bi-annually in the spring and fall. The deadlines for these distance learning scholarships are March 15 and October 15.