Andy’s story: Starting his last semester – with a job in HIT

In late January, Andy Robertshaw began his last semester in SUNY Broome’s Health Information Technology (HIT) program. It’s also the same month he began working in the field, starting on a fascinating career.

He learned about the job opportunity at UHS through his courses, after representatives from the healthcare group paid the lab a recruiting visit. Hired in December, he started in January – and conveniently worked on his clinicals at his place of employment.

This isn’t Robertshaw’s first foray into higher education, or his first career. He’s held many jobs through the years – as an executive in training and development for a restaurant chain, working for a computer company, selling commercial real estate – and has prior college degrees.

Still, as an older student, he felt apprehensive when he enrolled at SUNY Broome, he said.

“Looking back, I was apprehensive because I was older. I thought it would be a lot more difficult than it was,” he explained. “Even though I have other degrees, it was my first time stepping into healthcare.”

What made a difference: The resources available to SUNY Broome students, which Robertshaw describes as “incredible compared to other colleges.” One-on-one attention contributed to his classroom success, and eased his transition into a new field. 

Currently, he is doing coding for a rheumatology and orthopedic practice. He’s also starting to code for physiatrists, which has given him new goals for his career path. Practitioners of that medical specialty aim to restore optimal function to people who suffer from traumatic brain injury, strokes, severe neurological defects and more.

Data is critical in many specialties, but Robertshaw sees the impact is has in the treatment of a physiatrist’s patients. By recording treatments and their results, physicians can see what worked and what didn’t, and find new ways to help patients.

“To me, HIT is this really dynamic field, but the data is the most important part,” Robertshaw explained. “That’s the part we need for research – accurate data for best practices across the board.”

Robertshaw’s advice for students considering HIT: “Stick with it when it gets difficult and always trust your instincts. It is one of those fields where you realize you know more than you ever thought you did.”

After all, everyone goes to the doctor at some point. Some of us may end up treated in the hospital ourselves, or end up there at the bedside of loved ones. All of these experiences can connect you with the healthcare field and the realities there.

And your life experiences also can lead you places you never imagined before – such as a rewarding career in a field you never previously imagined.

“Your life experience will lead you where you need to be,” Robertshaw said.