UIC continues to set the bar as the leading educator in health informatics and health information management and nothing speaks more true than the experiences of graduates in their own words. Click the links to view the video testimonials of our graduates or read their words below.
2013 MSHI Graduate, Tara Jones
“I chose you, I see you held the Informatics Program because first of all, it is an accredited program, it’s well known, the instructors all are experts in their field and the flexibility of having an online program where I can access it 24 hours a day, seven days a week, anytime was excellent. With the family, a job and being a mom it really helped me get through.
“Obtaining this degree in Health to Informatics has really assisted me in helping my patients get a better understanding of how electronic medical records were positively impact their life. Their day to day interactions with their physicians and nurses will get them involved more closely than what they used to be before used to be a period of time where the physicians had total control over the patients charts and their care. Now, the push is for the patient to interact more and have more control over their own health. I believe obtaining this degree helped me propel that. It will help me just teach them and educate them on how they could effectively affect their lives by interacting with Health Informatics and taking control of their own life.
“What I got out of this degree or what was the most beneficial to me was the fact that I got a chance to interact with not only nurses like myself but physicians, pharmacist, IT specialist, who could actually help me gain knowledge that I never thought I’d have. We had discussions daily that actually helped me get a clear grasp on what IT would consist of as far as this Health Informatics degree. Having that 24 hour flexibility, being able to interact back and forth with each individual really helped expand my knowledge base and really helped propel me to another level in nursing and in Health Informatics.
“As far as how it has affected me as a nurse in my career, I’m looking forward to a degree that can take me in more of a manager’s position possibly a CIO position, Chief Information Officer position, clinical analyst position, anything where I can get my nursing degree and also this IT piece and merge it to help our health care system expand and help people on a whole another level.
“I would recommend UIC’s Health Informatics Program to anyone that was looking to expand their knowledge base on health information. Develop a better understanding of ICD-9 codes or how we are just going to expand as a health care system as a whole. UIC offering me flexibility as far as the 24 hour access to the internet, excellent instructors, students or my colleagues who are excellent resources as far as questions or concerns that I had, maybe I didn’t understand a project or an assignment, we all got together collaboratively and got through it, so that’s why I would recommend UIC, excellent program.”
2013 MSHI Graduate, Lulu Lopez
“I first started this program because I wanted to come back to computers. I first started in computers and actually in banking, but when I started working at UIC, I liked it a lot but I actually missed the computers itself. I figured this would be the perfect career for me. It’s helped me a lot and I’ve learned a lot. There’s nowhere for me to go here, so my goal is to find a job in a small hospital for project management. Somewhere where maybe they don’t have the electronic medical records ready yet or ICD-10 yet, something where everything I’ve learned in my new skills and to be able to offer it to them and make them good. The Master’s in Health Informatics has helped me in my current position in training the geriatric fellows ICD-10 and to get more comfortable with the technology that they can use now.
“For example, I pursued Dr. Gervais, who is the section chief, in starting them with iPads to go out to the nursing homes and to visit when we go to visit the patients at their homes that can’t come to the clinic. This way they can get to the electronic medical records faster. They can look at the notes, look at their blood work, look at their medications and know what they have to do for them right there and then instead of seeing the patient there and having to come back and look at the notes and then call in prescriptions. We’re saving a lot of time doing all this. This all came from a couple classes that I took here at the beginning. That’s where I got the idea and I just kept pushing, pushing, pushing, and he’s like okay, fine, I’m going to give it to you and if it doesn’t work, you’re dead. But no, it worked and we are on year two. Luckily these were one of the first classes that I took.
“There’s a couple of courses in the program that teach you about the new ICD-10. It’s extremely helpful in my career because our fellows are going to be real doctors that are going to take care of patients and in order for them to learn how to charge for their services, they need to learn the diagnoses codes, which is what ICD-10 is. It’s going to be a lot more detail and a lot more work. Me learning it has helped me put together a program where I can teach it to them in an easier way for them to understand and not fear the computer and being able to charge for it. All these new things with meaningful use is actually giving them more fear than confidence in their work. Computers are here to stay. Healthcare is here to stay. There’s no better career than to get into healthcare and technology.
“It’s really tough when you’re a single parent with teenagers, coming to work eight to twelve hours a day, go home, do your homework. You need to have a goal and you need to work really hard for your goal. The ease of the program is you can be in your pajamas drinking your coffee doing your homework or reading, but it’s not something that I would recommend just for anybody. You have to have discipline. You really have to believe in yourself that you can do this. You have the encouragement of the professors and your counselors and you knowing that you want to do something for yourself and for others. It’s just a great program.”
2013 MSHI Graduate, Diana Quaynor
“The UIC degree has really given me the confidence to move forward in my career and to know that I can go into any setting and discuss the challenges in healthcare and the solutions with just about anybody within the industry. It’s given me the knowledge and the opportunity to learn from others what experiences they’ve had and to share thoughts and ideas about moving the industry forward to create better patient outcomes.
“After graduating, my career plans are to take the knowledge that I’ve obtained and move it further. I’ve been an independent consultant for a few years now and I’ve taken the next pledge, the next leap forward to set myself up officially as a company and grow the consultancy. I hope to acquire interesting projects, ones that I feel are really impacting the industry and work with interesting people who can help to attain better results in healthcare.
“If someone asked me about the program, I would definitely tell them to go for it if they feel they’ve reached a point in their career where they can learn more and take that knowledge and use it right away. The UIC Health Informatics program is a strong one. It encourages collaboration. It encourages sharing of experiences. It really makes you realize that even though you thought you knew a lot about the industry, there is more to learn. There is always more to learn. What’s nice about it is you do get to learn from your fellow students in groups or in class discussions and you learn a whole lot from the professors and the faculty who are all there to help you use the information you have, do further research and discuss among yourselves and learn from each other.
“It’s a very strong program. You learn from clinicians. You learn from business management, from vendors, as well as suppliers, from all walks of life, as you will, in the healthcare industry. There’s a lot that this program teaches you that you can apply almost immediately. It’s been great for my career and for my personal growth as well.”
2012 MSHI Graduate, Felicia Warner
“My master in health informatics has helped me learn the job at a not-for-profit organization as the HRS manager. It allowed me to interact with a lot of the healthcare providers, a lot of the patients that’s out there that needs the help, the care that will be provided as far as electronic, making sure they have access to their medical records, so it allowed me to jump right in because of the professors and some of the real world experience that they had given me, so I was very excited. That was one of the reasons why I chose it.
“I was in the IT profession for over 20 years, and so I wanted to bridge the gap between IT and healthcare, and so I thought what better way than a degree in health informatics or within the healthcare or the health IT, and UIC allowed me to do that. They were the leading school to give me the quality education that I needed to land this job, so I’m very excited, very grateful for that. It allowed me to be a cut above the rest. It gave me the experience so, as I said, I jumped into the role of EHR as manager, and a couple of my professors I actually worked with as an internist, and so it allowed me to gain that experience, and I liked the program because the professors are out there in the world actually doing what they’re teaching, so I enjoyed that about the program.
“The selling point was because of the hands on with the providers or with the professors. UIC stands for itself. It was a great university to go, and they walk you through the process. They walk you through what your focus should be within the health information technology arena. They walk you through, okay, what do you want to do?
“I chose health informatics because I didn’t want to give up my IT background, and so I wanted to do something a little bit more, so it’s based on what your experience and what you want to get out of the program, and so they walk you through that, and so future students, I think, go for it. I chose UIC – their online program – because I had the experience to be in class, and I wanted some time to be at home, to do things at my own pace but to be given a deadline, so that kind of helped me get a little bit focused. It’s a great program. I recommend it to anyone.”
2010 MSHI Graduate, Beth Formica
“As a graduate of the health informatics program at UIC, I have strengthened my core values. I am assiduous, efficacious, and perseverant. I attend professional events such as the Chicago Hospital Executive Forum and HIMSS 2013 Convention. I attend town hall meetings and offer my knowledge and share solutions with examples and references. If someone asked about the program, what would I tell them?
“I would tell them the health informatics program is challenging and fun discussions with other students who have advanced degrees and professional experience in healthcare, such as physicians, nurses, medical librarians, and consultants, permits learning through the experience and opinions of professionals. The professors and class facilitators are highly advanced in their field of study. The teachers are available, encouraging, and respectful to the students.”
2010 PB Cert HIM Graduate, Deanna Scott
“I looked at some other schools and I felt like that weren’t as geared towards the professional getting you to the point where you needed to be. One of the other pluses for this university is that they focus on getting you to the point where you could sit for your RHIA which is key for me because I want to get to that point where you’re actually certified and something. That was one of my motivators also to be certified.
“I’m really looking forward to that opportunity. I’ve got probably another year to go and so I’m really excited about that. The instructors have been absolutely wonderful. They’re very caring. They’re on those discussions with you. They’re giving you the input, the feedback when you do your papers, projects, presentations. The whole idea behind education is really like confidence that you have that knowledge to succeed as a professional and so that feedback is primary. It’s key. They give you great feedback, ‘Hey, try this next time. Take a look at this. Look at this opportunity’ and then also the discussions are wonderful because you can input from other professionals which is really nice.
“It’s not someone that’s just primary, just getting out of school, undergrad level. It’s someone that has actually worked in the profession of healthcare. They’ve got the skill, the knowledge and they give you their feedback. It’s also nice to kind of get the input from other parts of the country, things you don’t think about. We’ve had a couple of international students and you don’t think about what’s happening over in Switzerland, in Japan with their healthcare systems. They are able to give you that input so it’s nice well-rounded education that you get.”
2009 MSHI Graduate, Crystal Vasquez
“Almost two years ago I was working as a nurse informaticist at the University, UIC’s Medical Center. I was looking for a graduate program to help me really formalize my education and help me speed up my experience base to match my work environment.
“Obviously UIC offered a wonderful opportunity for me to do that. What was more important was instead of me looking more at a nursing informatics program, I really did want an opportunity to make it more real-world, so I wanted a school that would provide me with IT professionals in the courses, along with nursing professionals. I get the challenges from the IT side, which I really didn’t have the education there, but also feeling supported by clinicians. Physicians are a part of that program as well, and other allied health professionals too. I really felt very comfortable in the program, and challenged at the same time.
“Initially, I was concerned about doing an online course because I always felt like I prefer the in person discussions and communications, but after about six months, I kind of settled into understanding on how to really focus on getting my work done and it kept me on task. The course is laid out so that the instructors provide you with a calendar such that it’s really hard to get off course. It’s afforded me the flexibility that an online course can provide, so I have really taken advantage of that as well.
“I actually have a new job as Director of Patient Logistics. What I hope to do is actually bring some value to my organization by being able to pull out some of the very important data, the clinical data, that we need out of the system that we have to help us to be able to benchmark better and to actually streamline our processes and then hopefully actually improve our patient care.
“Currently, we have a number of different systems that are up and running that we don’t always take advantage of the information that’s a part of it. Part of informatics is really to pull out the data, analyze it, and actually make improvements upon it. That’s really going to be the next step for me. I actually was able to call upon my instructors for various situations. In fact, Dr. Pawola has been able to counsel me through some questions that I had regarding consulting opportunities. Eric Zaworski was able to actually help me, I brought him as a guest speaker for a course that I was teaching on a beginning Introduction to HIM. He was actually able to come in and bring his expertise and ethics to my class. They very much enjoyed it.
“I felt very comfortable reaching out to my professors and also my classmates, which is full of rich experiences. Most of them, actually, are working, and many of them do a number of different things, so I have reached out to them, even online, asking questions. We have the opportunity in class discussions to challenge each other, to basically just ask “How does that work?” There’s always someone that can actually chime in and tell you about their clinical experience, online experience, or at least refer you to a very credible resource.”