The Many Hats of an IT Pro: A Q&A with Nikki Hochschild

Nikki Hochschild is the director of information and technology operations at the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA) in Chicago. She also oversees the continuing education department at AAMA and assists with developing and delivering continuing education products like assessment-based certificate (ABC) courses. 

We recently spoke with Nikki to learn about her career path, how she got involved with credentialing and her work with the AAMA continuing education department. 

Tell us about your career path. How did you get to where you are today, and what can others learn from your story?

I chose a non-traditional route after high school by working full-time and going to school part-time. At the time, I wasn’t sure what direction I wanted to take my education. I began my professional career at the National Funeral Directors Association in Brookfield, WI, and worked my way up to database administrator. With the on-the-job opportunities I was given, I came to the conclusion that I wanted to pursue a degree in computer science. I attended Lakeland University in Wisconsin and graduated in 2007 with my bachelor’s degree in computer science 

In 2004, I accepted the position of information technology manager at the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA) in Chicago. In 2014, I was promoted to director of information technology, and not long after, promoted to director of information technology and operations. Under the umbrella of operations, I am responsible for recertification, continuing education, membership, accounting and IT. 

I got where I am today because I became fascinated by — and truly enjoyed learning about — the operations of our evolving environment. The opportunities for advancing in my career seemed to present themselves to me because of my belief that one should never stop learning and having a strong work ethic. 

How did you get involved with credentialing? Was it something you were always interested in?

My last promotion to director of IT and operations catapulted me into the world of credentialing. In our organization, processing recertification applications is the responsibility of the operations department. There was a point when the applications were backlogged by months, and there was only one staff member processing applications. I assessed the processes in place at the time and decided to leverage technology in such a manner that reduced the processing time, as well as errors. 

Although credentialing wasn’t something that I thought much about, my interest has grown tremendously as I have become more involved and aware. I’m looking forward to connecting with other professionals to learn how they handle the recertification side of credentialing! 

Tell us more about your work with continuing education and membership. How did you get involved with that?

When I was hired at AAMA in 2004, many membership responsibilities were included in my role as information technology manager, such as annual renewal billing, dues rebate disbursement to the states and chapters, monthly membership reporting, membership data exports, database setup and deactivation of non-renewing members. I continued to add on more membership responsibilities over the years, such as providing input on membership enrollment printed and electronic pieces. I also became the staff liaison for the membership development strategy team, which involves collaborating with volunteer leaders. 

Now that I oversee continuing education, many of my accomplishments in this area include streamlining processes, such as the online program approval and online CEU attendance entry, which is a convenience not only for program planners, but for staff as well. I am very fortunate to have been given the opportunity to oversee the continuing education department as it is an integral part of our organization. I work closely with our continuing education board to help with the development and delivery of quality continuing education products, such as our assessment-based certificate (ABC) courses. 

What might surprise people about someone from an IT background and credentialing? 

Many people have a specific notion of what an IT professional does within their organization, and I think it is surprising to most that I, in fact, wear many hats at AAMA. I am truly thankful to work with an organization that has allowed my role and knowledge to expand so that I can contribute to the organization and the profession we serve.

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