From student to teacher, new instructor lands dream job at Durham Tech

Kim BoyceBlack coffee and steam poured from a stainless steel brewer as Kimberly Boyce chatted with a Starbucks patron across the counter.

It was 2007 and Boyce’s dream of getting back into the health information field was fading. Two years earlier, her passion for the field led her to the psychology program at the University of New Orleans. She was enrolled for a week before Hurricane Katrina made landfall. Since then, she had taken refuge in the Triangle and worked in the service industry to make ends meet.

As she spoke with the customer about her past experience, Boyce wasn’t thinking of teaching health information technology – a role she would come to flourish in at Durham Technical Community College – but of just continuing her passion for the career she’d started in New Orleans.

The customer pitched a position at WakeMed in Raleigh, but Boyce was mainly interested in the psychiatric healthcare setting. The next day, he came back for another cup of coffee with a business card scrawled with job opportunities and salary ranges at the hospital.

“It took me an hour and a half, from clock out to application submitted – I was that excited,” Boyce said.

After five years on the job, Boyce said, she wanted promotions and better pay. So, she spoke with her manager and enrolled in the online Health Information Technology program at Durham Tech in 2012. She continued to work fulltime at WakeMed and received her professional credentials in 2014.

“My whole experience at Durham Tech was great,” Boyce said. “My manager said if I got my degree and credentials, it would open doors. She was right. By October 2014, I was offered two promotions at WakeMed.”

Following her time at the hospital, Boyce took a director level position at a hospital where she was responsible for educating nurses and doctors on documentation standards and conducting new hire orientation classes.

“I learned something about myself while I was there,” Boyce says, “My real passion, my one reason for getting up every day was teaching and training. Those were the times I was most happy in that position.”

In 2016, she learned Durham Tech was hiring an instructor in Health Information Technology.

“When I saw Durham Tech was hiring this position, I immediately applied,” Boyce says, “It was the one job I really, really wanted.”

She was offered the position a few weeks later. When Boyce realized she would be teaching at Durham Tech after graduating from the college, she said she was initially in disbelief.

“I was tremendously honored because it spoke a lot to me about where I was in my career and that Durham Tech found me worthy,” Boyce said. “But even more important than that, my current supervisor, Jessica, used to be my teacher and she saw something in me as a student that she felt would be a really good fit for this program.”

This spring, Boyce teaches three Health Information Technology classes online and helps students get internships. Students in the program are learning how to ensure the accuracy and legal standards of medical documentation. Students also are learning how to perform audits, chart analysis, medical coding and billing, medical staff credentialing, which is in-depth background checks of clinical providers.

“It was like all the stars aligned and paved the way for me to come work here,” Boyce said. “I have been so happy working here. I love my students, I love my boss, and that’s something I haven’t always been able to say.”

Boyce pulls from her own professional experiences to teach her students.

“Having the benefit of recently being a student, I’m not a typical instructor. I try to use my experiences throughout my career as examples to teach them bigger concepts,” she said. “I tell them I was where you are three years ago. I did the four 10-hour shifts at the hospital and two 8-hour days at my internship while putting in 14 hours at school. I know it’s hard, but it can be done.”

Boyce is on a mission to make quality patient care her students’ number one objective.

“I’m passionate about the school and the program,” she said. “I tell my students that what they’re doing contributes to saving patients’ lives just as much as what doctors and nurses do.”

Just a few months on the job, Boyce is already receiving rave reviews from her students.

“They love hearing my experiences and how they tie into the course material,” Boyce said. “They’ve told me that they appreciate the fact that I know what they’re going through. It inspires them to know that I went from student to instructor in two and a half years, and that this degree can really lead to big places.”

Boyce now has 16 years of experience in health information and is currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Health Information Management at Western Governors University.