“I think global health work should be done by people who are culturally competent and who genuinely care about the people they work with. People in developing countries are intelligent and might already be doing the work we hope to do. So we must go abroad with an open mind and a willingness to partner with locals. That takes a certain sensitivity."
Two UMHS nurses, one early-career and one mid-career, are charting new professional directions for themselves with an advanced degree in health informatics. Tawny Apsley (left in photo) says, “This program is a great option for someone who wants to work in the caring field, but not necessarily at a patient’s bedside. In health informatics, you can have a global impact on the nursing field, not only helping patients but also helping your fellow nurses."
“I was looking at the MHI website which explained all the changes in the medical field and what we could do to be on the cutting edge of these changes,” she recalls. “And it just made a lot of sense to me. Plus, with the students, professors and U-M being one of the best research universities in the world, why wouldn’t I take advantage of this opportunity? So that’s exactly what I did.”
As part of UMSI’s Global Information Engagement Program (GIEP), Pritika and her team worked on developing a comprehensive web portal to connect the elderly, their families and eldercare organizations in India. “We learned a lot of skills outside the classroom,” Pritika said. “It’s not only about the material you’re learning but also about the situation the MHI program puts you in. We’re trying to solve problems that are interdisciplinary.”
"My passion was always in health,” Sean explains. “And I found purpose in improving health outcomes for others." While he initially had no intention of going back to school, Sean recognized the need for graduate training and began to explore public health programs across the country. None of the programs felt right, he recalls, until he discovered the University of Michigan’s MHI program; the program’s integration of health and technology made the most sense to him.
Ann Duong pursued her MHI to understand how to better leverage technology and design to enhance healthcare outcomes. "For me, the Health Informatics program was great because I was able to learn about policy, theory, behavior change, and get the more technical aspects of how to program and conduct user research, which was wonderful.” Ann is using her entrepreneurial skills to develop her own company, Canopy, to help people discuss their end-of-life wishes.
Audrey is attending the University of Michigan and earning a Master of Health Informatics while working full-time in the university’s health system. She expects it will take her about four years to complete her Master of Health Informatics degree. But as challenging as her schedule is, she thrives on learning and knows she has found the ideal field in which to employ her computer background. “I like to work and know I’m doing some good,” she says.
When Uncle Sam asks if you’re interested in pursuing a master’s degree, you say yes. That is, if you’re Navy Lieutenant Jeremy Griswold. Every year, Jeremy’s commanding officer offers the opportunity to pursue advanced degrees in varying fields. In 2014 the option was for a master’s degree in health informatics; Jeremy wasn’t going to pass it up.
An unlikely event triggered Kat’s interest in global health and population informatics. As a high school student in Colorado, Kat injured her knee during a freestyle skiing competition, landing her in months of physical therapy. While in therapy, she befriended another patient, a local nurse who was traveling to Tanzania the following fall on a medical mission trip.
Andy is enthusiastic about following his dream to become an entrepreneur. He also is embracing the opportunities that the MHI program presents as he seeks to make an impact on the healthcare industry. “Getting into the MHI program gives me this hope that I’ll be able to exert a great influence on patients’ lives, even without having a medical degree,” Andy says.
As a second-year MHI student, Kathleen focused on data analysis and data policy. She plans to work within the clinical data space, taking existing data and making it possible for others to utilize the data for analyses, visualizations, and aggregations. “We all recognize that healthcare is a big space,” Kathleen says. “There’s room for everybody to succeed. There are a lot of problems that need to be solved, and everyone brings a unique perspective to the table.”
With a B.S. in neuroscience from the U-M, Anna was drawn to the challenge of using information technology to improve healthcare in creative and innovative ways. In her second year, she focused her degree towards user experience design and health communication. In the summer of 2015, she completed an internship with UMSI’s Global Information Engagement Program (GIEP) in Bangalore, India, working in a team of four students to design a comprehensive website with medical information for senior citizens in India.
Dolorence’s journey into health informatics began when she started volunteering with The AIDS Support Organization (TASO). In this setting, Dolorence observed how the constant maintenance of patient- and physician-based record books detracted from the quality of patient care. Dolorence explains that with her degree, she hopes to focus on patient-centered information systems that promote standardization around the globe. She hopes to continue this journey by working with consultancies, government and global agencies.
Hailing from Belgrade, Serbia, DJ Petrovic began his professional career in the U.S. as an emergency medical technician (EMT). Within this setting, DJ came to realize that the paper-based records provided to EMTs were inefficient, and began recommending the adoption of electronic health records (EHRs). Eventually, DJ entered the MHI program and found that with his experience in healthcare and a natural talent and affinity for technology, the MHI program was a perfect alignment of his interests and background.
From helping his family with community service projects at a young age to spending a year in Beijing as an undergrad to living in Tanzania as a Peace Corps volunteer, Eric Pfeifer has taken a bit of a circuitous path on his way to the MHI program. However, the University of Michigan has always been on his radar.
After graduating from the University of Georgia with a bachelor’s degree in health promotion, Nithya Rajendran worked as a health educator at JJP Internal Medicine Clinic as “they were transitioning from paper to electronic records and implementing new technology.” That’s when she realized the role of tech in healthcare.
The co-founder of the patient-matching mobile app "Find Your Ditto" has a passion for patient advocacy and believes the future of healthcare is "patients first."
In Ibibio, Etiowo means good man and Nkeneke translates to non-conformist. Together, these names mean “never being afraid to do the right thing,” even when doing so doesn’t fit the status quo. “I was born, the name was chosen, the path was set.” Etiowo decided the best way to be a good man was by pursuing health informatics.
Wenbo discusses with enthusiasm the possibilities within this field for helping others by reducing healthcare costs and improving healthcare processes. “I really enjoy process improvement and looking at how population health ties into that,” Wenbo says. “How do we improve the healthcare delivery process, or how do we improve primary care or preventative care by taking into account people’s characteristics? How do we keep people healthy and out of the hospital? That’s essentially what I’m interested in doing.”