UIC Health Informatics New Student Welcome

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Dr. Miriam Isola welcomes new Health Informatics students and shares an overview of the program, faculty and UIC.


Hello, my name is Dr. Miriam Isola and I am the program director for Health Informatics program here at the University of Illinois at Chicago. I wanted to personally congratulate you on your acceptance and welcome you to our program. You are among an elite and multi disciplinary group of individuals who make up our IUC Health Informatics student body. Throughout your tenure at UIC you will continue to receive a tremendous amount of support. Your enrollment advisor was there to guide you and support you throughout the admissions process. As a student, you will now be assigned a personal student advisor.

This person will continue to support you as you complete orientation and begin classes. The student advisor will support you all the way through to graduation. You are each also assigned a financial aid advisor to assist with any funding matters. If you are like many of our students and have been out of school for some time, don’t worry. As one of your next steps you will complete our online orientation. Completing orientation is very important so that you become familiar with blackboard, our online learning management tool and are prepared to begin your classes. So I encourage all of our to get into the orientation as soon as you possibly can.

Let me say a little bit about UIC which I think is important for you to know. As you start your educational journey with us, now is a good time to think about how you can get the most value during your time as a student. UIC has some significant advantages to offer that you can leverage as you progress through the program and build your professional identity as a health informaticist. Number one, the University of Illinois as Chicago, Chicago’s largest university. We are a level one Carnegie research university with the country’s largest medical school. In the health informatics program we have 14 full time faculty as well as part time in adjunct faculty. You’ll be working with all of these faculty members.

Some of the faculty are significantly focused on research. Others are predominantly practitioners. They’ve been out in the field doing informatics work in various healthcare organizations for many years. As a faculty we bring a a wealth of knowledge and experience to our program. This is a great value to you as a student.

Two, as of 2018 there were only nine accredited health informatics programs in the United States. UIC was the first program to be accredited back in 2010. Health informatics is a broad and dynamic field. We read about changes in healthcare in the news every day. Our curriculum will equip you with cutting edge knowledge and skills that are needed in the job market today and will enable you to be a leader in the health informatics industry.

Health informaticists come from a wide variety of backgrounds. And work in such areas as health systems such as hospitals and clinics, healthcare consulting, payer in health insurance, technology, software vendors, public health or government agencies, health science research or pharmaceuticals, or even business for health products and services. You will apply the knowledge and skills gained in our program to any of these areas that you choose to specialize in. As an example, a growing area of interest for many health informatics students is learning how to apply statistics and business intelligence tools to health data.

Students gain valuable technical experience through hands on active learning experiences in health data science and health analytics. In other courses you will gain technical expertise to aid in the design, development, implementation, and optimization of healthcare systems such as electronic medical records. As a health informatics student at UIC, you will learn how various advancements such as artificial intelligence, and block chain technology are being used to improve the quality of health care and patient experiences.

Three, UIC is the largest health informatics program with over 400 current students and more than 500 graduates of the program. Health informatics brings together a multi disciplinary group of students. Your peers are nurses, pharmacists, dentists, physicians, lab technicians, health information management technicians, public health experts, veterinarians, computer science and students that have leadership roles in their organizations. This diversity is one of the key advantages of the UIC program. Think of all the professional connections you can cultivate. In the many discussions you will have in courses you will benefit from the diverse student body in terms of the knowledge and experience they bring with them.

Number four, a good number of our students come for the Chicago area. We are an online program but those of you who are local can also benefit from being in this area. Chicago’s working to become a health tech hub. Recent articles in Forbes and in Chicago tribune talk about healthcare startups and innovation going on her in Chicago.

UIC is a sponsor of a startup incubator organization her in Chicago called Matter. In a recent report published by Matter stated “Chicago is home to more healthcare expertise and resources than anywhere else in the country. By working together Chicago has a unique opportunity to emerge as a world leader in healthcare innovation.” While all of you are not physically here, UIC, your program, is a part of this health tech environment. I mentioned all of these things because it’s not just our program. But it’s your program. You will always have this as a part of your professional background. And can claim these advantages as differentiators for you during your time as a student and later as you go to job interviews and build your career.

In closing, I want to emphasize one more important point. In higher education, we encourage students to go beyond simply taking courses and meeting the requirements. If you have made it to this point you’ve already been successful in studying and passing courses. Now is the time for you to go beyond the classroom work and look for ways to get full value from your time as a student by taking advantage of all that UIC has to offer.

A couple of questions for you to keep in mind. One, do you really understand all the different work that an informaticist might do? This is an important question to explore. Two, what areas of informatics are a particular interest to you? These are areas for you to explore during your time as a student to go into a more depth as you do papers and projects. Three, what kind of work do you eventually want to do when you graduate? I mentioned this now because some students do not start to think about this until they’re ready to graduate. Now, is the time to start thinking about this. You may not know all the answers yet, but through your work at UIC, you can keep this goal in mind.

I want to thank you again or choosing the University of Illinois at Chicago. We’re very happy to have you as a contributing member of the student body. And we look forward to working with you and seeing you in class.