Six young women, each with various career backgrounds, are the first graduates of the Byrdine F. Lewis College of Nursing and Health Professions master’s degree in health informatics. Takyna Ritter, Stephanie Scales, Brienna Sylvester, Lawrey Francis, Heejoon Park and Marilyn Smith earned the master of science in health sciences with a concentration in health informatics degree and proudly crossed the stage at the Lewis College graduate commencement in May.
Sylvester devoted her early career to nursing, but she became more interested in how data collected in healthcare could impact decision-making and improve patient care as a public health nurse. Following her interest in healthcare data led her to Georgia State and become part of the first class of health informatics master’s degree graduates.
Stephanie Scales had a successful real estate career and had returned to college when her 86-year-old father was hospitalized for various health issues. Her eyes were opened to medication mismanagement, as her father had different healthcare providers prescribing multiple medications, some of which counteracted each other.
“It scared me. I was just finishing my bachelor’s in psychology and knew I wanted to do something in this field [healthcare],” Scales said.
Scales looked into healthcare career options, particularly nursing.
“I soon learned bedside care was not my forte and started to search a little deeper. I found clinical nursing informatics and then met Dr. Truss, who told me of the health informatics program.”
A third member of the class of 2021, Takyna Ritter is a double Panther with a Georgia State undergraduate degree in health informatics. Her decision to pursue the master’s program at Georgia State was an easy one.
“I was taking the HI certification classes, and once the master's program opened, I didn't hesitate to switch. The certificate program credits transferred to the master's program,” she said.
The women are enthusiastic about their experience in the health informatics graduate program and feel it made a difference in their career futures.
“The program gives you an introduction to a wide variety of areas in which you can apply your healthcare knowledge, background, and skills. It is not limited in specialty,” said Sylvester. “I developed new interests and insights in areas I didn't realize were available to me.”
Scales liked options in electronic health records.
“I would love to work in data, eventually, creating my own app,” she said.
Like Scales and Sylvester, Ritter has a strong interest in improving patient care and public health. She feels that a background in health informatics opens many doors to her future.
“HI offers a variety of career choices. You do not have to choose one,” said Ritter. “You can surely find your niche somewhere in this field.”