Loretta Swan, TJC’s department chair for health administrative services, is a 20-year veteran of the health care industry, spending 16 of those years at Trinity Mother Frances Hospital in Tyler.
Swan’s extensive background in health information technology and administration gave her the tools to develop programs and curriculum to teach the next generation of healthcare administrators.
In addition, she is using her expertise to guide the path for TJC’s second four-year degree, a Bachelor of Applied Technology in healthcare technology and medical systems.
Swan moved to Tyler in 1997 from California to work for Trinity Mother Frances Health System and quickly realized there were no qualified medical coders to hire. She met with Judy Young at TJC to ask for help knowing that the hospital would have to “grow their own.” Professor Young told her that Ms. Swan could teach a class to train coders and that is exactly what she did.
Medical coding is a standardized method of communication between health care agencies and insurance companies that is practical, easily understood and universal. If a procedure, doctor visit, medical test, surgery, and medication are correctly coded, insurance companies can quickly and efficiently take care of the thousands of claims they see each day.
Swan said that in October of 2015 the nation implemented ICD-10-CM codes, increasing from approximately 15,000 codes to 70,000. Hospitals jumped to an enormous 140,000 codes. There is so much to learn in order to send out “clean claims,” ones which will actually be paid.
While Swan enjoyed her tenure at the hospital as vice president of operations and her job as an adjunct professor at TJC, she accepted an offer to become a full-time professor in January of 2013.
She loves having the opportunity to train students to have wonderful careers.
“I feel like there are so many other people who could have that opportunity if they just get out there and have the right training, the right mentoring, and opportunities.
"Today, in order to move up in this industry, a degree is required. That is why programs at TJC are so critical.” - Loretta Swan
“That’s part of why I started a healthcare administration program. We have so many managers who grew up in healthcare,” she said. “However, today, in order to move up in this industry, a degree is required. That is why programs at TJC are so critical.”
Professor Swan runs three programs with another on its way. Those include healthcare administration, an online and selective admissions program. Students must have a minimum of one year of healthcare work experience to qualify for the program.
The Health Information Technology program is geared toward those working in an in-patient facility. The goal for students in this program is to take a certification test to become certified coders.
The Medical Office Management program is for students who want to work in physician front offices or business offices, taking care of scheduling and coding for those busy practices.
Professor Swan is excited about the upcoming bachelor’s degree in Healthcare Technology and Medical Systems. A steering committee consisting of leaders in the healthcare community including physicians, vice presidents, directors, and medical practice administrators has been created to develop the curriculum.
The need for highly trained healthcare leaders is rising and the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that this trend will continue for a long time. Incoming students who have their associate’s degree and several core courses behind them will be well down the road toward their bachelor’s.
Loretta Swan from her days working at Trinity Mother Frances. Her team won a small trophy at a charity event.
Swan says her current students are the most excited for the new program. The College is working through the application process for a possible start in fall 2018.
“Those who have heard about the bachelor’s degree say, ‘We know how you teach, we know what you teach, and we know you care about us. We want to come back.’”
Professor Swan stated that student’s tell her they have never found instructors who care more about their success than ones in the TJC programs.
When asked about the next steps in her career, Professor Swan reflects: “My dream is to look for what is good for our community, and what is good for our students. What kind of degree should we be offering that is going to help them get a job, support their families and be successful? That is always on the top of my mind.
“I think we have great programs, great students and I am happy to be here. I am happy to share everything from my lifetime of learning.”