Ambassador Spotlight: Janet Quiring – Health Informatics Program
Janet Quiring is a student in the Master of Science in Health Informatics program here at UNE Online. We spoke with her recently about her thoughts on the program, how she leveraged her strengths to find her practicum placement, and what aspects of real-life cybersecurity her practicum is exposing her to.
Can you tell me a little bit about yourself, and what encouraged you to pursue your Master’s in Health Informatics?
I’ve had a career in the pharmaceutical industry for many years now. The industry is great, and I’ve enjoyed it, but at some point, you step back and look at how the market is changing. I’ve seen the whole dynamic of medicine shift, and I felt that I needed to be able to change with it.
Many pharmaceutical companies like mine conduct outcome studies, and over the years I’ve become interested in how to apply the principles of health economics to improve decision making in a complex healthcare environment. Then I discovered the University of New England’s Health Informatics program, and I realized that it seemed to fit exactly with what I was thinking of doing.
The more I looked into the field of health informatics and discovered all of the career paths you could take, the more I was attracted to the idea of getting my Master’s in Health Informatics. I love tech, and I love medicine, and there is a lot of synergy between the two nowadays. I want to be a part of the next big career front that is coming through, and this is it – especially since everything is big data now.
How did you find your practicum experience?
My job in pharmaceutical sales brings me to offices and hospitals, so I just began talking to people who did informatics in those healthcare environments. I spoke to tech departments, I would talk to office managers to find out who did their informatics, I spoke with the caseworkers that I work with for suggestions of who to talk to, and I talked to people who were data analysts who used Tableau. I even talked to doctors, because I knew 4-5 doctors who had left their practices to be involved in informatics in their hospitals. A lot of nurses switch to informatics too, managing outcomes and quality care for the hospital.
You can send emails and resumes, but that’s so impersonal. Maybe that has worked for some people, but I had access to so much talent, so I began talking to people. One day I was talking to one of the techs at the hospital, and he asked me if I had ever thought about doing something in cybersecurity. That led us to a longer discussion, and it sounded really interesting – so that’s how I ended up choosing cybersecurity for my practicum experience.
Can you talk a little bit about your practicum experience?
Well, before I began my practicum experience, I had no idea what the cybersecurity aspect of health informatics was. I was curious, and when it was explained to me in further detail, I felt that it might be a good practical experience and something that I could totally use in one way or the other. I wanted an experience in a skill that I didn’t already have.
This practicum has given me a brand new skill set. Initially, it was more like a crash course in cybersecurity, and then I became more embedded with my team. It’s been an amazing experience, listening to them talk through challenges and hash out solutions, and make plans for how they were going to implement systems. I got to experience their responses to security breaches, and I spent a fair amount of time just running after my mentor, observing him as he fixed various aspects of the hospital’s technology and addressed technical issues for the doctors at the medical center.
Because of security rules, there was a limit to what I could do as a student. I did have some great hands-on experiences though. One of my tasks was to review dashboards in a particular software program, to monitor the security of mobile devices. The software was able to pull up the number of laptops around the hospital that were authenticated, and it would show if you had passed all of the security checks and if you were enrolled in the system, or not. So if you were out of compliance, then you’d have only a certain amount of time to return to compliance. If you exceeded this time limit, you would become a security risk, and the software would stop your equipment from functioning. My job was to monitor how many devices were in compliance, how many were out of compliance, and how many needed to be re-enrolled.
The software engineers were the ones who actually did implementations, I was able to watch what the staff were doing and sit in on their meetings, but as far actually applying anything, I don’t think they could take that liability on in case I didn’t do something right. The majority of my role was job shadowing – and they would also quiz me on things that I was supposed to be learning.
Did you find your practicum experience to be applicable to your real life situation?
I definitely understand a lot more about the technology that my company uses for mobile device security. We have 25,000 employees, and we use a software program that is similar to the one I learned about in my practicum. My workplace also just implemented an access control app, which can slow things down, but at least now I understand the reasons why, and I understand more about what my company does for cybersecurity.
Now I also understand more about the economics of outcomes and the importance of the IHI Triple Aim, which is a framework developed by the Institute for Healthcare Improvement that describes an approach to optimizing health system performance. The triple aim is “improving the patient experience of care (including quality and satisfaction), improving the health of populations, and reducing the per capita cost of healthcare.”
If there’s one thing you would want a potential student to know before starting this program, what would it be?
Be ready to learn, and be ready to commit to spending a lot of time in what you’re doing. And also, from the beginning, be thinking about what you want to do for your practicum. As you go through each class, find something that you like or what you think you might want to be involved in, and start exploring that. By the time you complete your coursework, you’ve learned about a ton of different topics and fields, but you could end up scrambling and not knowing what in the world you want to do for your practicum experience.
By having an eye on your ideal experience, you can start building a network of people that you can be talking to so that it’s easier on you when you get to the end of the program.
If you are interested in pursuing a career in Health Informatics, or if you’re simply interested in discussing the program, please reach out to an Enrollment Counselor at (855) 751-4445 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Or, fill out an online application today at online.une.edu/gateway-portal-page – we look forward to hearing from you!
More Health Informatics program information: http://go.une.edu/health-informatics