Member spotlight: Kayla Muskego

Member spotlight: Kayla Muskego

Kayla Muskego

When most students enter post-secondary institutions, they have a general idea what career path they may choose to pursue. That idea typically changes as they navigate the multitude of courses available to them. As an adult learner, educational efforts are more fixed. Adult learners often enter colleges or universities with intention—knowing exactly what they would like to study and knowing precisely where they want their learning to take them.

Such was the case with Kayla Muskego.

Kayla Muskego is a Health Information Management (HIM) student at Red River College Polytechnic in Winnipeg, Manitoba, with a graduation date of April 2024. We had the opportunity to connect with Kayla via Zoom and chat about the health information management program, her desire to pursue a career in health information management, and her ability to play a role in Indigenous healthcare.

Meet Kayla Muskego.

Kelly Wilson: Hi, Kayla. Thank you for allowing us to share space with you. Please tell us a little about yourself and what motivated you to pursue a career in health information management.

Kayla Muskego: I have been a caregiver for my siblings all my life. Most of my skills are really around those experiences of raising little ones. I always knew I wanted to be in healthcare, but I never knew where I would fit. During COVID-19, I watched how the healthcare providers were treated, and that pushed me away from wanting to pursue a career in nursing or any other ‘hands-on’ areas in healthcare. I have strong administrative skills and management style, and I wanted an area that would help me use these skills.

When I first came across health information management, I thought it would be administrative. I didn’t realize how much more it was, such as ethics, privacy, and healthcare theories.

Kelly Wilson: One of the reasons we wanted to interview you was because you are very confident in your career path as a health information management professional. Can you tell us why you are so passionate about health information management?

Kayla Muskego: Sure! I grew up in the Norway House Cree Nation, a semi-isolated reserve. I’ve been dealing with Type II diabetes since the age of twelve, and because of this chronic condition, I’ve had to travel off reserve every few months to see the Endocrinologist. My personal experience is that frequent travelling and the constant trips takes a toll. I hope to become the go-between for the people on the reserve and the health professionals down south.

Health information on reserves is very paper based. Much of the relay of information is through phone calls from one physician to another. This means information gets lost in transmission, which affects our healthcare and treatments. This has seriously affected my health at times, and I don’t want this to happen to anyone else.

Kelly Wilson: What has been your experience in the HIM program so far? What have been the most challenging and rewarding aspects of the program at Red River College?

Kayla Muskego: I love the program. I love the instructors—Courtney and Caleb are doing great, and I love my classmates. This program has allowed me to see myself in a new light and watch other people in the program grow. It’s rewarding to have a path to follow. This program has given me direction, and I now feel motivated and have the drive to do something meaningful for healthcare and my people.

Kelly Wilson: From your perspective as a student, what are the biggest challenges currently facing the health information management field in Manitoba?

Kayla Muskego: Manitoba is behind compared to other provinces. We will have to fight for equality in our industry and advocate for health information management and the importance of access to health information, especially on reserves. There is no reliable internet. How do you have electronic charts when you don’t even have reliable internet?

Kelly Wilson: What are your career aspirations post-graduation?

Kayla Muskego: Many Indigenous-based companies in Winnipeg are pushing for Indigenous sovereignty and self-regulation. I would love to participate in that movement, especially with the EPR (Electronic Patient Record). There’s an organization in Winnipeg called the First Nations Health & Social Secretariat of Manitoba (FNHSSM), and they have an eHealth division. That may be an option. Jeff Nesbitt [CEO of CHIMA (Canadian Health Information Management Association)] mentioned a company in British Columbia called Animikii. They are an Indigenous-based organization that helps implement technology. They have a great mission, and I would love to be involved there too.

Also, a new hospital is being built in Norway House. This is exciting because it’s a hospital, not a health center, and the community has been involved in building it. I don’t think it’s open yet, but I had the opportunity to see it last summer, and it is really beautiful.

No matter where I go after graduation, I will always return to Manitoba.

About Kayla Muskego

Kayla Muskego is from Manitoba’s Norway House Cree Nation (Kinosao Sipi)—a community located 800 km north of Winnipeg. Norway House is one of the largest Indigenous communities in Manitoba. Kayla is completing the Health Information Management program at Red River College Polytechnic in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

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