Megan Szlachtowski had always wanted to live in the big city. Moving from her family’s quiet farm in small-town Olivia, MN to the bustling port city of Duluth, where she graduated with a degree in health information management (HIM) from the College of St. Scholastica, allowed her to fulfill her dream. After graduation, Szlachtowski started work at Allina Health in the Twin Cities, where’s she’s been for the last five years. But now, Szlachtowski has a new dream–one that she hopes to reach with her Health Care MBA from the Opus College of Business.
Szlachtowski is currently completing her first year of the 27-month, 18-course program. Having taken clinical health care classes during her undergraduate experience, Szlachtowski wanted to further her education with the formation of a stronger business sense; a degree pairing both seemed logical. The Health Care MBA’s cohort model, flexibility of both online and on-site classes as well as the close-knit environment were all attractive qualities for Szlachtowski. “From the minute I walked into the information session, I knew this was a place I would feel comfortable and welcomed.”
Aside from taking class, Szlachtowski is continuing work at Allina where she currently holds the title of Compliance Manager. Szlachtowski’s responsibilities include providing leadership and support to customers in order to ensure compliance with federal and state regulations, assisting with the facilitation of patient privacy and security investigations, working with leaders to identify risks and develop risk mitigation plans, as well as other compliance-related activities.
Janessa Berkowitz, who met Szlachtowski in the Health Care MBA program, says her friendly, easy-going attitude and collaborative nature lend well to her position at Allina. “It’s a difficult job, regulating everything, making sure people are following the rules. She interacts with lots of people,” Berkowitz says. “It takes a certain kind of person to do that kind of work and do it well, without creating conflict.” Berkowitz says Szlachtowski also leads a study group which the women formed with two other students in their program. “She’s great at delegating and stepping up and sort of coordinating things–an excellent skill.”
Aside from work and class, Szlachtowski finds time to serve as a student representative on the Health Care MBA advisory board and as a volunteer on the Minnesota and American Health Information Management Association (MHIMA and AHIMA) boards and the advisory board for St. Scholastica. Her free time is spent between her family, friends, two nephews and nieces and her husband, with whom she says she likes to travel to warm places.
Szlachtowski aims to carry her values of respect and integrity throughout her career. She hopes this degree will give her a stronger business knowledge that will make her a more well-rounded professional in the health care industry. She is eager to get more involved with strategy and would love to continue to hold some type of leadership role.
“I do see myself always working in the health care world, even though I don’t work in patient care,” Szlachtowski says. “I love the concept of helping people be healthy.”
Szlachtowski said her parents have been extremely influential in teaching her what hard work means from early on. From helping her dad in the sugar beet fields and other various chores that came with living on a farm, to participating in activities and sports in high school while keeping good grades, to working a full-time job in college while taking classes as a full-time student, Szlachtowski has learned that hard work is always rewarded in the end.
“Setting goals and achieving them and always doing my best while keeping a positive attitude–I think that’s been really influential in everything I’ve done,” Szlachtowski said. Her drive to work hard has earned Szlachtowski the Rising Star award, a national recognition given to young professionals in health information.