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Consumer Health: Adjunct Instructor Dick Lui teaches courses that focus on interpersonal skills in health informatics courses

Smiling MSHI Adjunct Professor, Dick Lui

Meet Dick Lui, an adjunct instructor in the Online Master of Science in Health Informatics program at UIC. Based out of Columbus, OH, Lui has a Master of Public Health from the University of Michigan.

Prior to teaching, Lui worked in the government as a contractor focusing on consumer health. As technology and the internet progressed, health informatics began to grow as a field which piqued his interest. He already had experience using multimedia and he wanted to bring it into higher education and teach students how to implement it into healthcare.

Lui understands that students today learn differently than he did, and he’s been able to adjust his course and instructional design to adapt to his student’s different learning styles. He also likes to help his students look at what’s usually being done and help them think outside the box, or “stop doing that…do this instead!” Lui’s courses teach different methodologies and interpersonal approaches to problem-solving that are sure to help HI students build a successful career.

What skills will students develop and learn in their courses that will be useful in building their health informatics (HI) careers?

The courses I teach include BHIS 503 Communication Skills in Health Informatics, BHIS 525 Social and Organizational Issues in Health Informatics, and I work as an adjunct in BHIS 510 Healthcare Information Systems.

My courses focus on the social and interpersonal part of health informatics versus the technical side. How individuals, environments, attitudes, and knowledge can affect how we use technology, or how it could be a barrier. This concept can be difficult for students because they may think that the technology is failing them. However, we explore what if the software is fine and maybe the user just isn’t communicating with their peers correctly? My courses challenge students to take a step back from technology and to think about their relationships with their colleagues, organizations, and technology.

The BHIS 503 Communication Skills in Health Informatics is an application course where students assess and practice effective written and oral methods of communication skills. We discuss different systems and students will understand the use of these systems in addition to implementation. For example, you want to educate your patients about the issues of, say, the covid vaccine? How do you communicate that? This course focuses on students learning actual communication in healthcare and how to put it into practice.

How will the HI program better prepare/equip students for the current workplace climate they are facing?

What’s interesting about our online health informatics program is that there are standard operating procedures for health information systems and I think a lot of our students are expecting to learn strictly about those, but in our program, we approach that in a different way.

Our courses help students look at their approach to problem-solving and not necessarily best practices. We want to teach them that when they are faced with a problem, they should focus on understanding the problem, thinking about the best methods to tackle the problem, and exploring what all the underlying issues may be.

At UIC, we have a very diverse group of students who come from different backgrounds and have had different experiences. It really creates a richness in the conversations we have in the classroom. We try to teach them broader skills when it comes to problem-solving, because some of today’s “best practices” will become obsolete in 5-10 years.

What do you think sets UIC apart?

What’s interesting about the program at UIC is that it was one of the first health informatics programs that was online from the very beginning. If you’re a student interested in pursuing HI, it’s a great advantage. I was a student myself in the program; it’s where I got my Post-Master’s Certificate.

The other advantage of the program being online is you get to interact and work with students from all over the country that have different types of experiences that you might not be used to. From an educational perspective, UIC does a really good job with diversity. We have a good majority of minority backgrounds and different professional settings. We have nurses, techs, lab people, pharmacists, and the occasional doctor. Being able to have such a diverse student population and then have a program that is so reflective of that population, really helps to set UIC a part.

What have you learned about having a successful career in health informatics, and how do you apply your learnings into the program?

Health Informatics is a multidisciplinary field that is based on having a mutual respect for everybody’s role in the field. Due to all these different stakeholders and roles, anyone that is interested in entering health informatics needs to learn what is important to other stakeholders. In our program, students learn how to respect each other’s roles and responsibilities in the workplace, and I think that more than anything understanding this should be the ultimate goal in being a part of a successful professional practice.

What advice do you have for your students interested in pursuing their HI degree online?

To set aside more time than they expect. I think students often underestimate the amount of time that is needed. We expect 15-18 hours of workload per week. One course can nearly be a part-time job. If you add a part-time job to your life as a full-time employee, a spouse, and a parent, all of a sudden there are less hours in the day to dedicate to this. I recommend scheduling which hours of the day you want to dedicate to school to help you succeed.

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