Welcome to the third in my interview series with interesting people in healthcare. This interview is with Kim Pakney, CPCS, CPMSM, a co-founder of the Alaska Association Medical Staff Professionals and a current member of the NAMSS Certification Board.
MSSPNexus: How long have you been working in the field of medical staff services, and what drew you to the profession?
I’ve been working in medical staff services for nine years, and like many people got into the field by working as a temp. I helped an overworked, understaffed hospital Medical Staff Coordinator catch up on reappointments that had expired over a year’s time. I got hooked. The job can be fairly repetitive, but I find it interesting because our customers keep it different and keep me coming back for more. I love a challenge!
Prior to working in medical staff services I worked in the travel industry. My last job was for a firm that hired airline pilots and contracted them out to air carriers. (That’s where I met my awesome husband). My job was to help determine a pilot’s eligibility for the contract, and bring them into the company (contracts, HR paperwork, etc.). Sound familiar? The only difference between pilots and doctors is what they do, one group saves lives, the other carries lives. The issues and attitudes we deal with in credentialing both are very similar.
MSSPNexus: What made you decide to co-found the Alaska Association of Medical Staff Professionals?
In Alaska most of our hospitals and/or healthcare entities only have one Medical Staff Professional. In addition, many of those MSP’s work in very remote areas. Most of our cities in Alaska cannot be accessed by road, only by air. So most of us here had no connection to each other; we often didn’t even know about each other. When I went to my first NAMSS conference in Orlando Florida in 1997 I quickly realized the benefit of networking with others who do what you do.
Barb Kuper, who became our first president and who was a Medical Staff Coordinator at Providence Alaska Medical Center at the time, and I co-founded the Alaska Association Medical Staff Services in February 1998.
Many of our small facilities were going through MSP’s like water because there was very little training or education available to them without traveling to the lower 48, which was cost prohibitive for many of them. So I figured if we got a state organization together and had an annual education conference, it would allow networking and education for those who might not otherwise get the help they need. I hoped it could help us maintain MSP’s in the state for a longer period of time. I’d say it’s working for the most part. Are we responsible for that? I’d like to think so, but we don’t really know.
MSSPNexus: How has AKAMSP benefited you?
The camaraderie in our state is amazing. We are working on a mentoring program, and people new to the medical staff profession are contacted about our group and learn quickly that they have access to help. I love coming together annually with all my colleagues around the state, enjoying their company and learning about things that effect our profession. Also we have some unique challenges here, so it’s nice to be able to get input from the group as a whole.
MSSPNexus: Keeping a state associaton active and growing is a challenge. Do you have recommendations based on your state’s experience?
What has worked best for us is that we communicate regularly by e-mail with all our members. Our meetings are held via conference call, only annually do we all meet in person. That detail keeps us active in light of growth, because new members are simply added to our e-mails and quickly become involved. We also have MSP’s in the state who are not members of the state association and we still keep in touch with them as well. Some messages are sent only to members, but some are sent to all MSP’s in the state, especially the annual education session, we invite EVERYONE!
MSSPNexus: You’re a member of the NAMSS Certification Board. Why do you feel that certification is important?
I think certification helps an MSP prove that they have a high level of knowledge about our profession. They stand out because they worked for a higher level of education in the field. It offers employers a certain confidence, knowing that an employee has passed a national exam that verifies a high level of knowledge. I personally love certification, and strived to attain dual certification for my personal satisfaction, to prove to myself that I have obtained that level of knowledge. An awesome side benefit of that is getting to serve on the Certification Board of NAMSS.
MSSPNexus: Any closing comments?
I wish more people could see the medical staff field as a profession and not just a job. I make it my personal mission to help with this. I love my chosen career and will stick with it for as long as I am still working. It’s fun, challenging and worthwhile.