Submitted by: Eileen Oleski, CHIM
Eileen Oleski lives in Winnipeg with her husband Bruce. She has two grown children, Megan (son-in-law Justin) and Mark, and two grandchildren, granddaughter Rylie who is 3 ½ and grandson Callen who is 2. In her spare time, Eileen enjoys golfing in the summer and curling in the winter. But what she enjoys the most is spending as much time as possible with her grandchildren, family, and friends.
Eileen’s career in health care started in the early 80s as a nurse’s aide at the Rehab Centre for Children (formerly Shriner’s Hospital). While working there, the Executive Director approached her to see if she would be interested in a position in health records. No shift work was certainly a pulling force, and Eileen accepted. While in this position, she learned about the Health Record Technician course, as it was called back then, and enrolled in the Canadian Healthcare Association’s distance program.
Upon completion, Eileen went to work at the newest hospital in Winnipeg, Seven Oaks Hospital. She spent most of her career there, gaining a great deal of HIM experience. Starting with quantitative/qualitative analysis, release of information, coding specialist, and data analyst up to manager of health information services, Eileen says she did it all. While working at Seven Oaks, she was seconded to work for the Ministry of Health in developing and training all HIM professionals in Manitoba for the move to ICD-10-CA/CCI. After two years, she was hired permanently as a health record consultant for the province.
The opportunity to teach for the HIM program at Red River College surfaced in 2007 and Eileen decided it was time to give back to the profession in another way. Each of these positions was rewarding in its own right; however, her most rewarding experience has been teaching, simply because of the students. “They are my inspiration each day and I see the future to continue to be rewarding for them all,” she says. Eileen’s entire career has offered opportunities to meet amazing people and make many friends along the way.
During the years of working, Eileen continued with professional development, obtaining certificates in departmental management, health care administration, and adult education, as well as a Bachelor of Allied Health Sciences. “Learning never stops, and I still learn something new every day,” she says.
Eileen says her role as program coordinator for the HIM program was the most rewarding, as she played a role preparing the future HIM professionals. As she tells her students, “I lay the foundation and you build your career. This profession is so diversified, and if you have the drive and desire, you can go in many directions.”
But like many things in life, there comes a time when retirement is the next step. Eileen retired in January 2019. She looks forward to spending more time with her grandchildren and knows that if she is needed in any capacity to continue to supporting the HIM profession, she may just reappear to show her support.
Her advice to future HIM professionals? Never doubt your importance in the health care system and know that if you want to make a difference, you just need to step forward and speak up! Showcase your skillset and be the best you can be at whatever you choose. The sky is the limit.