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Post-Baccalaureate Certificate student integrates health informatics expertise into compliance career

Post-Bacc HI student, Alex Geib, smiles at camera in suit

Meet Alex Geib, a University of Illinois Chicago student who is currently pursuing his Post-Baccalaureate Certificate in Health Informatics (PBC HI). Alex shares his unique journey from kinesiology to compliance and how the online certificate program has become an integral part of his professional development. Working at Athletico Physical Therapy as a Compliance Data Analyst, Alex seized the opportunity to explore health informatics, which was encouraged by his company’s support for further education. 

Alex sheds light on his decision to pursue the field of HI and highlights the impact practical application of his coursework has had on his current role. Halfway through the online PBC HI program, he has acquired valuable skillsets that spotlight the online program’s relevance in various healthcare roles. Alex also provides advice for prospective students, encouraging them to explore new fields and take classes that might not align with their initial preferences. 

Explore Alex’s educational journey and discover how he seamlessly applies the practical knowledge gained in health informatics to real-world professional settings. 

Tell us about yourself. 

I pursued my undergraduate degree at UIC from 2016 to 2020, majoring in kinesiology with a minor in psychology. During that time, I was interested in pursuing a path in occupational therapy. While still in school, I had the opportunity to work at Athletico Physical Therapy which is a common choice for many kinesiology graduates due to its prominence in Chicago.  

As I explored kinesiology at UIC, I discovered various career avenues beyond occupational therapy. Post-graduation, I continued my journey with Athletico but transitioned from the clinical side to compliance. The company expressed interest in supporting me and furthered my education by providing funding. This motivated me to explore different programs. I immediately thought of UIC and discovered a program in health informatics.  

Why did you decide to pursue health informatics? 

To me, health informatics is a tool that can contribute significantly to my work in compliance. It enables me to leverage large datasets for monitoring and to identify key insights that benefit the company I work for. 

After I discovered the HI program at UIC, I discussed it with one of my supervisors, who had a certificate in the same field from a different institution, which solidified my interest. Now enrolled in the certificate program, I am thoroughly enjoying my experience and the exciting possibilities it offers. 

What skillsets have you learned in your Post-Baccalaureate Certificate program that you are using in your career in compliance daily? 

What I learn in class, I can practically implement the next day. In my BHIS 540: Essentials in Health Data Science course, my professor provided insights into healthcare scenarios, encouraging us to think creatively about utilizing online health information. The course improved my organizational skills, particularly in Excel, streamlining the process of extracting essential information from extensive datasets. I found myself sharing insights with my boss who was like ‘let’s try it out.’  

Another example is from a final project where we were tasked with communicating complex data sets to stakeholders within a company, specifically to stakeholders who might lack expertise in Excel. The practical application of this skill became very useful in my compliance role. I often find myself in situations where I need to present data to executives who may not grasp compliance details. I can now convey information in a clear and understandable manner and ensure that individuals without a background in the subject can comprehend the data. 

This real-time integration of learning and then applying is great. It’s a rare experience where you learn something in a course and then can apply it to your work the very next day. 

Why would you recommend taking the certificate program online? What are the benefits? 

I work two jobs, so I’m working 60-65 hours a week. This online program is ideal for me, allowing me to pursue my education while managing work and other commitments. The self-paced structure is also something I’ve really learned to appreciate. 

The HI professors are not only knowledgeable but also approachable. Their extensive feedback provides a clear understanding of my progress and areas for improvement. In my BHIS 500 class, after each assignment, the professor would actively seek our opinions on what worked and what didn’t that week. They would then incorporate this feedback into the following week’s structure. This approach was nice because the course would then adapt to our needs and align better with our schedules.  

What advice would you give to perspective students considering this certificate? 

My advice for prospective students would be that regardless of your current field, whether it’s compliance or another area in healthcare, I believe this certificate is beneficial. I think the online program has value for individuals in any healthcare position, offering insights and skills that can be applied across the industry. So, my advice is to give it a shot, even if you’re initially uncertain about your interest in HI. 

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