Friday, June 5, 2015

Philadelphia Healthcare Worker Boosts Her Career through Corporate Partnership

Nicky Cuesta knows her secret to career success: Keep a close connection between her educational journey and her job. She joined Health Partners Plans in Philadelphia in 2006 as a customer service representative, and began learning everything she could on the job to build a career with the company.

Her commitment paid off when Health Partners Plans recommended that Nicky apply to Peirce College to earn her associate degree in Health Information Technology (HIT). Health Partners Plans is one of over 20 Peirce College corporate partners that work with us to drive workforce development through education.

Now a member of the Class of 2015, Nicky has a lot to say about her experience at Peirce and how it’s impacting her career. Read our Q&A with Nicky to find out where she is now.

Why did you choose to go back to school?
I attended an information session about Peirce through my employer, and saw that a degree in Health Information Technology would be the bridge to advancing my career. An HIT degree would let me immediately use my education for career development.

Once you decided that Peirce’s HIT program was right for you, how did you make it work financially?
I was able to get a 25-percent tuition discount through the corporate partnership between Peirce and Health Partners Plans. Steve Bird [Peirce Program Manager, Institutional Partnerships] was also a great help. He guided me through the starting phases and encouraged me to apply for the Presidential Scholarship. I said to myself, "I have nothing to lose and everything to gain." I was so excited to find out that I was one of several students selected to receive a scholarship.

What was your experience like in Peirce’s HIT program?
It was a pleasure to go to Peirce. The faculty and staff are everything an individual needs on their educational journey. Peirce caters to all people wanting to get to the next phase of their life. When I joined the Peirce family, I already knew I was in good hands. The resources I received went above and beyond my expectations.

How did you balance school with family and work?
Having a family and a full-time job, I decided to take all my courses online. I created a system that worked for me. I studied on some holidays and didn’t go away on vacation during certain months when I was busier. The challenge wasn't easy, but it was priceless.

How is your HIT degree now helping you in your healthcare career?
I was recently promoted within my company to Precert Coordinator in Utilization Management. I was able to move into the new position because I learned a lot of medical coding skills in my HIT classes.

That’s great to hear. What are your plans after graduation?
Taking some time off, and then I start classes to earn my bachelor’s in Healthcare Information Administration at Peirce in July.

Do you have advice to give fellow adult learners and other students who are considering a degree in HIT?
Do it! HIT will be around for a long time, and you can find work in a variety of environments—hospitals, inpatient facilities, doctor’s offices, insurance companies. There is a lot of opportunity.

What thoughts do you have as you prepare to start your next Peirce degree program?
I am proud of how far I have come. I want to thank all those that support me—my family, friends, and Peirce. Professor Donovan is a master at what she does and I have to thank her for assisting me through the ride. Peirce will always be a part of my life and I just want to make sure they know that they are doing it right.

Way to go, Nicky! Congratulations on earning your associate degree, and we’re looking forward to welcoming you back at Peirce!