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 Northwestern University

Northwestern UniversityFollowing my graduation at Boise State University I secured employment with Micron Technologies working for as a Software Engineer for one of their subsidiary companies known as Lexar Media (or then Crucial Technologies).  Micron is a Fortune 500 and one of the largest employers in the state of Idaho.  Micron’s mission “has been to be the most efficient and innovative global manufacturer of advanced solid state semiconductor solutions”. Crucial’s role in that mission was to extend the products that Micron manufactured through direct means to the consumer.  As a software developer I received a top notch experience in supporting an ecommerce website and learned how to support the company’s mission in developing software solutions that supported supply chain, sales, marketing and fulfillment.  The solutions I developed leveraged software solutions built on web technologies, enterprise application development, ERP, CRM and many more.

After working for nearly ten years for Micron, it came to a bitter sweet end. Economic conditions, company instability and career growth desires, propelled my search for other opportunities.  I had developed an interest in healthcare and wanted to learn more. In talking with friends and family working within healthcare, I became more decided that I would target an opportunity tied in some way to its purpose of improving patient outcomes. A number of great opportunities presented themselves but given the challenges in the housing market it did not seem like a good time to relocate my family.  I found an opportunity at Blue Cross of Idaho and seized it.

Shortly after starting with Blue Cross of Idaho I soon realized that I had a very shallow understanding of healthcare. My desire to learn grew more and more as I began to get more involved. From the start I was fortunate to work to support the Medical Quality Management department whose focus is to help its members manage their care more efficiently.  I decided to search for an educational program that could leverage my IT background while also filling in the gaps I had in healthcare. It did not take long and I discovered the field of Medical Informatics.  The educational discipline was an emerging need to bring technical and clinical expertise together to help transform and revolutionize the healthcare industry. It seemed like a perfect match and I next needed to find an institution and program that was a fit for working professionals.

Home of the WildcatsAs I searched, the University of Utah had a strong program but I was again restrained and didn’t want to relocate so I pursued distance learning options. I had a good friend that was pursuing the same program through Northwestern University and I sought to learn more. Northwestern is the home of the Wildcats and known for their academic and medical programs. Northwestern is “recognized both nationally and internationally for the superior quality of its programs at all levels, Northwestern University is a world-renowned research institution of choice for students seeking an exceptional education experience”.The program was offered through their School of Continuing Studies. I was immediately impressed with the format and curriculum offered by Northwestern.  The faculty profiles were equally as remarkable. I knew, after my research, that Northwestern’s reputable program could provide the foundational building blocks to help influence further opportunities for growth within the healthcare domain.

School of Continuing StudiesI enrolled and was accepted into the Masters in Science of Medical Informatics at Northwestern and began my coursework in the winter of 2010. It has been an amazing two year journey that has impacted me profoundly.  The program was very demanding and pushed me to excel in every way. Through the journey, it was my great fortune to have rubbed shoulders with many experienced professionals and faculty who challenged my thought process and helped me find application for the principles taught. Although done in a distance learning format, the format of the program was much like a class room experience where students were able to interact with each other and instructors through synchronous class sessions.   It was great to be able to experience and see technology advancements transcend beyond geographic borders.

I graduated in the summer of 2012.  I feel Northwestern has empowered me to excel and now seek to find direct application for what was taught in my professional career.  I am always open to consider opportunities and invite any that may arise.  I feel my applied abilities through the program have enabled me to do all of the following as hoped for in the programs objectives for graduating students.

  • Create a vision for electronic health records demonstrating how principles of effective implementation and use positively influence the quality and efficiency of healthcare delivery and healthcare research.
  • Assess the informatics needs and system constraints within health care organizations from clinical, operational, and financial perspectives.
  • Demonstrate leadership skills to prioritize, strategize, manage, and advocate for informatics solutions tailored to organizational needs.
  • Integrate federal and state requirements for security and privacy into compliant system implementation and management.
  • Apply informatics tools to public health and population questions.
  • Synthesize at leadership and managerial levels the privacy, security, legal, ethical, and social challenges inherent to the informatics industry.
  • Mediate among IT, clinical, research, and administrative stakeholders in a health care setting.

 

Program Description:

Northwestern University’s Master of Medical Informatics (MMI) program is offered by the university’s School of Continuing Studies (SCS) and was developed under the Feinberg School of Medicine.  Medical and Clinical Informatics is an emerging need and was recently recognized by the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) as a Medical Specialty.     Northwestern has been a leading university in the field of MMI and seeks to empower its pursuant students by offering the following as detailed on SCS’s MMI web site:

 “… The program gives individuals with information technology backgrounds and clinically trained health professionals the knowledge and experience needed to apply their talents to careers in information services organizations within hospitals, health systems, academic environments, and the health systems and equipment industry.  This interdisciplinary professional program aims to blend computing and clinical skills in the emerging field of medical informatics.  The curriculum recognizes the complexities and academic demands of the field and emphasizes the specific technical requirements of the profession without training its students too narrowly.  Graduates are able to understand and affect developments in the medical informatics field from a technical, theoretical, and managerial perspective” (SCS MMI, 2012).

The MMI program is very well designed.  Courses are grouped as follows:

  1. The healthcare industry, governance, and the legal and regulatory environment;
  2. Medical informatics, clinical thinking, technical standards, and biostatistics (survey methods); and,
  3. Business processes, technology acquisition, and organizational leadership to drive change.

Relevant Courses:

 

Chicago, Illinois, USA

Institution Facts:

  • Founded in 1851 to serve the Northwestern Territory
  • Northwestern has three campuses. Two campuses located on Lake Michigan: a 240-acre campus in Evanston and a 25-acre campus in Chicago. One campus is located in Doha, Qatar.
  • Continuing Studies enrolls approximately 1,100 students in part-time, evening undergraduate and graduate programs.
  • Northwestern University and the MMI program is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC), a Commission of the North Central Association of Schools and Colleges (NCA)
  • The University has been ranked among the top 12 in the nation as listed in "America’s Best Colleges" by U.S. News & World Report
  • The Master of Science in Medical Informatics program has been recognized by the University Continuing Education Association with awards for its leadership in distance learning programs.
  • Northwestern Memorial Hospital has been awarded “Most Wired” status by Health Care’s Most Wired magazine.Approximately 8,108 graduate professionals in 2010-11.
  • A charter member of the Big Ten and the conference's only private institution.

Source:
Online Master of Science in Medical Informatics. Retrieved from: http://www.medinformatics.northwestern.edu/ on 2012-02-08.
Master of Science in Medical Informatics. Retrieved from: http://www.scs.northwestern.edu/grad/medical-informatics-online/ on 2012-02-08.
Northwestern at a Glance. Retrieved from: http://www.northwestern.edu/about/northwestern-at-a-glance/index.html on 2012-02-08

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