Student Spotlight: Steve Butka, Health Informatics Program
Steve Butka is a student at UNE Online in the Health Informatics program. He was kind enough to answer a few questions recently about his experience as a student, the challenges, and highlights of the Health Informatics program, and some advice for incoming students.
What drew you toward earning a degree in Health Informatics?
I am currently working in the mental health and substance abuse field as an intake screener for both adult and children. I have been with the agency since 2008, when I finished my undergraduate degree, and have mostly worked in positions that involved direct service.
I was offered a promotion to my current position in the Fall of 2016, at which point I was able to get increased exposure to our electronic health record and other aspects of data entry and reporting. Meanwhile, I had always considered returning to school for a graduate degree, but I had a tough time determining what degree was best for me. It was this new position that directed my research in such way that I discovered the field of health informatics.
Why UNE Online?
As I researched schools that offered degrees in the field, I came across the University of New England, which immediately jumped to the top of my list. I have a co-worker who completed her Master’s of Social Work (MSW) at UNE Online and had a great experience. In addition, I knew a handful of interns from UNE who completed their hours at my agency, and all had nothing but positive feedback regarding the school. After comparing this health informatics program to ones at other schools, I felt that UNE Online would be the best fit for me.
The benefits of an online format
I knew if I returned to school, it would have to be in an online, or at the very least, blended format. I had taken both online and blended classes during my undergraduate degree, and I was very happy with the format. I was working full-time throughout the majority of my undergrad program, so I knew how convenient it was to be able to attend class from home and to avoid spending time commuting. Online schooling is not for everyone, but in my case, I find that it actually promotes the learning process and helps maximize the time I invest in my classes.
Using his Master’s in Health Informatics degree – now and future
My agency is currently beginning the process of transitioning to new electronic health record software, so this degree will allow me to be a part of the implementation team, and hopefully take on a larger role in the IT & Analytics departments moving forward.
A long-term goal of mine is to get involved in mobile health devices and/or tele-health. My feeling is that this kind of technology will play a large role in improving healthcare in our country, not only in terms of patient care, but for cost as well. I have spent some of my spare time beginning to learn how to code for iOS applications, in hopes that down the road, I will be able to connect with a tech company and help create or implement these types of applications in some capacity.
What should health informatics students know before beginning the program?
My advice to potential students would first be to make sure that you are comfortable learning in an online environment. While the subject matter is interesting, it can be difficult at times, so students must be able to self-motivate and balance life’s priorities with the online format.
Health informatics is a great way to connect one’s interests in both healthcare and technology, and the program does a great job of giving students exposure to different subject matters within the field. If healthcare and IT pique your curiosity, then health informatics may very well be the ideal degree for you to pursue.
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 go.une.edu/apply – we look forward to hearing from you!