Student Spotlight: Ruthie Pearlman, Master of Science in Health Informatics Program
Ruthie Pearlman is a second-year student in the Master of Science in Health Informatics program. Here she tells us about her experience in the program, her vision for integrating seamless patient experiences with mobile health technology, and her advice for incoming students.
Can you tell me a little bit about yourself, and what encouraged you to pursue your Master’s in Health Informatics?
I graduated in ‘99, lived in Israel for a while, got married, had kids, and worked as an office manager for a nurse midwife for about ten years. When we decided to move to Maine, I took the opportunity to explore different types of jobs that would more closely fit my career aspirations.
When I looked into getting my master’s, I initially considered the University of New England because of the coastal Maine campus. That is, until I discovered that many of their graduate degrees are offered 100% online, including one I had never heard of before: a Master of Science in Health Informatics.
When I read about health informatics, I started laughing because I thought they made it up! Combining databases and healthcare is right in my wheelhouse, so I knew it would be a great fit for me. It turns out that health informatics is what I do already. So it wasn’t that I had this huge desire to study health informatics; I stumbled across it and discovered that it was exactly what I’d been looking for in a degree to help me in my work life.
Throughout my career, I’ve consistently found myself looking at data and improving workflows. Whenever there were things to look at and analyze, I would analyze them. Now that I’m actually in the program and learning more about the field of health informatics, I feel that women’s health, as a smaller niche within informatics, might be where I want to focus my career. I would also love to get involved in mobile technology and remote monitoring. I feel like I‘d enjoy creating seamless experiences between people and technology.
What is one practice or experience from your studies at UNE that you can apply right away in your current role?
A lot of my classes pushed me to become more aware of data security, especially as it pertains to communication and processes. As an office worker, I’d never really needed to consider data security before, so the curriculum enhanced my knowledge of that aspect of healthcare.
My courses also gave me a deeper and more comprehensive understanding of issues such as universal health care and problems with interoperability. For example, we had to consider the best way to deliver high-quality care to Americans in order to meet the IHI Triple Aim. It’s really taken over a big chunk of my brain.
It’s interesting that health informatics is now something that I think about, work towards, and have feelings and opinions about in a way that I never did before. I used to just want the women who came through our midwife practice to have a perfect birthing experience. Before, patient experience was the endpoint. Now I realize there’s so much more.
What are you planning to do with your degree?
I am currently an office manager and a doula. I do a lot of health informatics in my current position, but I‘d love to be a project manager and get more involved in making changes. That’s a big part of why I’m getting my master’s: to gain the skills and the credibility to make that possible.
I’d like to find a partner who I could work with in a project management capacity to harness data from health tech. I think it would be interesting to explore alternative uses of current technology to come up with something innovative and useful in the healthcare field.
Read more: Top 5 Health Informatics Jobs on the Rise
Did you feel as though you were in a community while in the Master’s in Health Informatics program?
I feel like we’ve developed one, yes. I came across some challenges in my first class, and I realized that one of my classmates was also experiencing the same challenges, so I reached out and we connected over that. Then we started talking to another woman in the class, and the three of us formed our own little study group. We have maintained that connection through several classes now.
Also, now that I’ve started my second year in the program, I find that I recognize a lot of names. I’ve had up to five classes with some people, and I feel a camaraderie with them even though we’ve never directly acknowledged it.
What would you want a potential student to know before starting this program?
The first two classes are really intense, especially if you haven’t been in school for 15-plus years like I have. They consisted of a lot of reading, a lot of writing, and being held accountable for grammar, punctuation, and proper formatting. You have to take your courses seriously and you can’t just phone in your answers. But I didn’t have to operate at that level of intensity after the second course because I got used to the amount of reading and writing. So, it’s getting better, and it’s totally worth it.
Favorite part of the program?
I’m in the project management class right now, and so far it’s my favorite one because I feel like it’s real-life training. It fits perfectly with my skill set, and I feel that it’s the most relevant to what I’d like to do with my career. My other classes have been super informative, but I know that when I’m done with this project management class, I’ll be able to take these skills and apply them right away to whatever my next job may be.
Do you find yourself looking at data and improving workflows or combining databases and healthcare just like Ruthie? If so, you may find UNE Online’s graduate programs in health informatics are a perfect match for your career. To learn more about the curriculum, tuition, and other program details, click the button below.