By Elisabeth Costanzo Stewart

Every day, marketing professionals question the effectiveness of their advertisements. Did the graphic, copy, sound bite, or tv spot successfully compel the viewer to take action? In many cases, ads fall flat, but in a special moment when the content miraculously connects with the customer, attention is grabbed and the power of influence takes over. In the case of Riley Transue, the content, placement, and viewer all aligned, when he noticed a display case in the hallway of the Decker Health Science Building promoting SUNY Broome’s Health Information Technology: A.A.S. degree. The display did its job and Transue walked away with a mission. Now in his final year of the program, Transue spends his days coding medical records, ensuring HIPPA compliance, and navigating reimbursement methodologies. Simply put, Riley Transue is learning how to keep the medical world thriving, but from behind the scenes. 

Transue was born in Unadilla, NY. Just before kindergarten, Riley and his parents, Chris and Cindy, relocated to Johnson City, NY. As an only child, Riley developed a very special bond with his parents, particularly with his father who retired when Riley was in the 5th grade and assumed the role of stay at home dad. As a middle school student at JC, Transue noticed a flyer inviting students to try out the school’s modified cross country team. Riley’s uncle, who ran competitively in college, encouraged his nephew to give cross country a shot, so Riley did. It only took one practice for him to realize that running cross country was going to be “his thing.”

“Running cross country was a major part of my high school experience. My core circle of friends were from the running community. Runners are definitely intense, but are also a really supportive group of people,” said Transue. 

After an impressive senior season, highlighted by his performance in the state qualifiers, Transue was recruited to run for Mansfield University’s DII cross country team. Just as Riley excitedly mapped out his schedule to balance his time as a student athlete between his nursing classes, labs, and clinicals, the Covid-19 pandemic reshaped the world. 

“I got to Mansfield in the height of Covid, so my college experience was definitely not what I had imagined. Only ⅓ of the campus was physically there, because only science and music students were considered to be essential. I only had one in-person class, so I spent most of my time sitting in my dorm room alone. I never got to live with my roommate, my cross country teammate, because he was in a major that was required to take all online classes from home. I was able to run cross country, but even that was tricky. I ran masked and just trained with no specific goal, because all competitions were on hold,” Riley explained. 

SUNY Broome’s men’s cross country team with Coach Tom Carter.

After completing the fall and spring semester, Transue began to have second thoughts. First about studying nursing, and then about returning Mansfield University. During a routine summer run on the Vestal Rail Trail, Riley bumped into fellow cross country runner, Jacob Getchel. Like Transue, Getchel had been recruited to run for Mansfield University, but opted to transfer to SUNY Broome to be closer to family and to train under the G.O.A.T (greatest of all time), Coach Tom Carter. By the end of the run, Transue had Carter’s contact information and had a new outlook for the future. 

“Tom Carter immediately made me feel at ease. He understood how difficult the past year had been for me and offered me a healthier (both mentally and physically) training alternative. After talking with Coach Carter, I was excited to run again. Making the decision to run for SUNY Broome was easy… selecting what to study was the tough part,” shared Transue. 

At that time, Transue was still on the fence about studying nursing. He liked the social and ambulatory components of the field, but he wasn’t sure if it was truly his calling. The timing of his transfer resulted in him missing the deadline for SUNY Broome’s highly competitive Nursing: A.A.S. program, so he was advised to enter the Health Studies: A.S. program. As a health studies student, he could complete his corequisite courses and explore his options within the realm of healthcare. 

While his academic timing was slightly off, his athletic timing couldn’t have been better. During his stint as a Hornet, the men’s cross country team won back-to- back NJCAA Region III Championships and placed 4th in the NJCAA XC National Championship, twice. Transue and his teammates quickly became a tight-knit family, bonding over their intense, atypical workouts, pre-race rituals, and universal admiration of Tom Carter. Being part of SUNY Broome’s cross country team was the collegiate student athlete experience that Riley had been hoping for and even had an added perk. Running cross country in his backyard meant that his parents could cheer him on at every race. 

For Transue, a properly placed display changed his life.
Photo Credit: Matt Ebbers

Back on the academic front, Transue was working his way through the health studies curriculum when he fatefully stopped to read the advertisements in the HIT display case. After perusing the program’s learning outcomes, which highlighted the field’s unique blend of coding, data analytics, business, and healthcare, Riley hopped onto a computer and completed his application on the spot. 

“I had to explain health information technology to my parents, because like most people, they didn’t realize how intricate the behind the scenes portion of healthcare really is. While we are not in direct patient care, the medical world could not function without us. The doctors and nurses provide the care and then we provide the ability to ethically document and fund that care. My parents were really supportive and loved that a clinical internship was part of the program,” explained Transue. 

The HIT curriculum includes a balanced combination of biology courses like “Anatomy and Physiology” and “Pathophysiology & Pharmacology” with health information technology and business information technology courses like “CPT and HCPCS Coding” and “Data Analytics for Healthcare.” As preparation for the Registered Health Information Technician certification exam, students also need to be well versed in the legal aspects of medical records. HIT students are required to craft and maintain accurate, accessible, and well organized electronic medical records for patients, practitioners, insurance companies, and legal entities. 

As Riley prepares for his clinical rotation, he is starting to map out his professional future in the world of health information technology. Though there are a few hurdles and advanced certifications to complete first, he is gravitating towards working as Clinical Documentation Improvement Practitioner (CDIP), which functions like a high level editor and auditor of medical records. Thanks to burgeoning technology and the public’s desire for access and autonomy in respect to personal medical history, job security for health information technology professionals is guaranteed. 

“The technology in this field is still relatively in its infancy. It’s a rapidly growing career and community of professionals, so it’s very exciting to be a part of it at this stage. At this point, I don’t know where I want to work, but I do know that I’d love to have a home office with a treadmill desk. I have officially retired from competitive running, but I still love to run and build muscle for fun. Thanks to the flexibility of Health Information Technology and tools like a treadmill desk, I will be able to fit in a little bit of that training throughout the workday. I couldn’t ask for a better fit.” 

Are you interested in learning more about the exciting field of Health Information Technology? Contact SUNY Broome’s Admissions Office to learn more by calling +1 (607) 778-5001. 

“The technology in this field is still relatively in its infancy. It’s a rapidly growing career and community of professionals, so it’s very exciting to be a part of it at this stage.”
Photo Credit: Matt Ebbers

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