Silver Circles: Valerie Prater

Valerie Prater; Silver Circle Award Winner

Valerie Prater, clinical assistant professor, biomedical and health information sciences. Photo: Jenny Fontaine

Since 1966, the Silver Circle Award has been presented to some of UIC’s best teachers. Winners, who are honored at their college commencements, receive $500 and their names join a long list of distinguished colleagues. But what makes the award especially meaningful is its selection committee: the graduating seniors.

Silver Circles: 2
Years at UIC: 10

What does it mean to win this award from the graduating seniors?

I am retiring at the end of this semester, and this award is the best possible going-away gift. I began teaching because I wanted to make a difference in students’ lives, and this award is meaningful to me because it comes from students. I know that every moment we have with students is precious, amid their many responsibilities and obligations, and I hope that I have been able to organize that time in a way they find useful and valuable as they start the next phase of their careers in health care or continue their studies.

What do you teach?

I focus on teaching courses in health information management. I teach online and classroom-based blended courses for undergraduate and post-baccalaureate students on the legal aspects of health information management, human resources management, health information research and independent study.

How do you engage students in your courses?

I find that students engage with courses when real-world examples and case studies are used to link lessons to relevant issues in the field and when technology is used to enable hands-on application.

What are your research interests?

I focus on curriculum development and research on the value of interprofessional collaboration in a health care setting.

What is your advice to graduating students?

I advise students to look for opportunities to take on a leadership role in health care, and to develop confidence and comfort articulating the value of your HIM expertise on a team. Step up. Don’t wait for someone to knock on your door with an invitation to collaborate. Be assertive and say, “I can help with that.”

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