Courtney Wingo is an integration architect on the regulatory compliance team at Cerner Corporation based in Kansas City, Missouri. She graduated from Georgia State University in spring 2016 with a Bachelor of Interdisciplinary Studies in health informatics.
Why did you select this program?
While an undergraduate in the biology/pre-med program at Georgia State, I found myself stagnant in the program looking for more innovation and development opportunities within the healthcare industry. Through the Student Advisement office, I received information about the health informatics program created a few years prior and began my pre-requisites the next semester!
I choose the health informatics program due to the program’s interdisciplinary nature with health informatics sitting at the intersection of computer science, nursing, economics, and business. When researching the program, I saw that the professors were active professionals in these various healthcare fields, working with hospitals like Emory and Grady. It was invaluable to have professionals teaching, combining the relevant theoretical aspects with the practical skills needed to thrive in the healthcare field in various roles. It was invaluable to know that what I would learn would directly apply to the skillset needed postgraduation. I wanted to be able to have the choice to seek employment immediately or further my education in any direction of my choice.
What were the positive attributes you noticed regarding your coursework and your instructors? How did your instructors promote success in the classroom? What was your overall impression of the environment?
The cohort structure allowed the professors to pace and tailor their teaching styles to match the class without shortchanging anything in the syllabi. The environment was very nurturing and promoted healthy competition among our cohort members with our course practicums. These course practicums truly modeled the process of project management and working on consulting projects. The curriculum structure laid out how each discipline fits into health informatics, shaping our confidence in understanding an emerging field.
What was the most memorable part of your education? Was there a specific moment in the classroom or during the application process where you knew you were on a path to your future career?
My most memorable courses were the “Electronic Health Records” and “Health Policy in the US” classes. Working with electronic health records is one of the core facets of my job, and I work with them daily. I appreciated the professor for this course because they tailored the course to different learning styles by applying learning beyond lectures and PowerPoints. Her input in nursing informatics helped shape the way I present information to clinical staffs across the nation. Also, understanding how and why these systems perform the way they do was an advantage for me when entering my job after graduation.
Also, the “Health Policy in the US” class was one of the most challenging courses for my cohort. It was the most practical and informative and provided me early knowledge for skills listed in my current job description. I am proud to say that I have my former professor for health policy as a client, working with them through their partnership with Emory University. Overall, these courses were integral to my success in my role today, working in the regulatory compliance space.
How do you feel you are better prepared for your future career? Have you experienced any changes in your current employment thanks to your degree? Were you able to secure employment in a new field?
I was introduced to Cerner via a networking opportunity provided by the health informatics program. During the first six weeks of employment, my company offers training for their new associates as a precursor for associates that have not had the luxury of working in this field. Luckily, the information was repetitive due to my degree knowledge and relevant coursework at Georgia State. I also enjoyed the volunteer opportunities used to prepare students for interaction with electronic health and information systems organizations via conferences like the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS).
What advice would you offer to current and future students? What would you tell them to expect as a student in the health informatics program?
I encourage current and future students to treat each class as an introduction to a new clinical informatics sector. There are various opportunities and interconnected topic areas intertwined with the continually emerging field of clinical informatics. The most positive aspect of this is that there is always a new topic to learn or skill to develop. So, unlike many fields, there’s always room to improve and grow as a health informaticist.
I advise students to network with your cohort members and those entering the program after you and the program’s alumni. It is always a pleasure to check in on your fellow alumni after graduation and realize you ended up in the same places! You also never know what opportunities you can provide for each other. Your network is your net worth.