Summer 2013 Letter from the Editor

by Rebecca B. Reynolds, EdD, RHIA, FAHIMA

I have to begin this first editorial of Educational Perspectives in Health Informatics and Information Management (EPHIIM) by going back into the rich history of health information management (HIM) education to provide some insight into our evolution to this point. I must start by stating that this is not the first research journal dedicated to HIM education.

The Assembly on Education (AOE) was created by the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) board (then called the American Medical Record Association, or AMRA) in 1988 and began to function in 1989. The Board of Directors and many medical record educators recognized the need to address issues in education beyond the association policies, activities, and tasks performed by the Councils on Education and Certification. The board funded a task group to propose a structure that would serve the needs of the association.

A task force consisting of Mildred St. Leger, John Berkbeugler, Peggy Wood, and Leslie Blide was assigned to this project. The word Assembly was chosen for the name because it means a “group which comes together for a mutual purpose.”1 Early directors of the AOE developed bylaws, policies, and procedures to develop a flexible organization to assume new roles and responsibilities as the association restructured its educational and certification activities. The primary reason for forming the AOE was stated as follows: “Supporting educational programs that promote the competency of its members is an integral part of the mission of the Association. It is one of the central pillars of a strong profession. It is the responsibility of all members.”2

Prior to the formation of the AOE, the Medical Record Educator newsletter was first published in February 1985. This publication contained news and announcements (remember the days before the Internet?) and also had regular columns. Hot topics were “computers in the practice of medicine,” “accreditation standards for ambulatory,” and “PPS [the Medicare prospective payment system] has negative effects on clinical education,” to name a few. We would have the same stories printed today with slightly different topics, such as “EHRs [electronic health records] in the practice of medicine,” “changing accreditation standards,” and “ICD-10 has a negative impact on clinical education.” We have come a long way, but when we reflect on the past, it is interesting to note how the core issues remain the same, regardless of the changes around us.

In 1989, with the formation of the AOE, the name of the publication was changed to AOE Newsletter, which quickly became AOE Network in 1990. AOE Network blended news and announcements, like those that appear in today’s Academic Advisor, with peer-reviewed articles. This tradition continued until 1998, when another group of educational leaders decided to create an AOE journal, which was called Educational Perspectives in Health Information Management. Valerie Watzlaf, PhD, RHIA, FAHIMA; served as the journal’s editor until 2002, when this journal was expanded into the publication we all know as Perspectives in Health Information Management (PHIM). PHIM has successfully captured a global readership, with 80,000 recorded unique visits to the PHIM website in 2012–2013.

This inaugural issue of EPHIIM includes articles that focus on research involving healthcare students enrolled in professional programs. In one article, which reviews the usability of EHRs, the authors found significant differences in students’ usability reviews based on prior EHR use and differences in the graduate and undergraduate students’ perceptions of EHR usability, which poses the question of how much exposure healthcare students should have to EHRs in the educational process. The article by Sharp et al. assesses the critical thinking skills of healthcare students and reports that students at the graduate level have higher critical thinking skills than undergraduate students. The third article, which focuses on the growth of the clinical documentation specialist profession, is included here as an example of the jobs that new health informatics and information management graduates are qualified to assume at graduation. The clinical documentation specialist profession requires that graduates have good EHR skills as well as critical thinking skills to access information from the clinical record and work with the medical staff to ensure that the documentation in the medical record is accurate and reflects the clinical care provided.

The plan for EPHIIM is to provide greater opportunities for publication by featuring research articles of interest to the health informatics and information management educator community. These topics include teaching, learning, and workforce issues in the health information field. We also plan to publish proceedings from the AOE summer meeting as well as have a section for student research. The intent of this journal is to provide a mechanism for sharing best practices in teaching in a complex, evolving environment.


  1.  Hanken, M. A. “Brief History of the AOE-AMRA and Education.” AOE Network 7 (1991): 2.
  2. Ibid.


Rebecca B. Reynolds, EdD, RHIA, FAHIMA, is chair and associate professor in the Department of Health Informatics and Information Management at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center in Memphis, TN.

Article citation:
Reynolds, Rebecca. "Summer 2013 Letter from the Editor" Educational Perspectives in Health Informatics and Information Management (Summer, July 2013).