Childhood experiences led Georgia State University health informatics master’s degree candidate Schuylar Holmes to a future in healthcare. She visited her chronically-ill grandmother in the hospital as a child, but her own experiences as a pediatric cancer patient solidified her interest.
“I knew I always wanted to work in healthcare since I was a little girl,” said Holmes, who entered college as a pre-nursing major. However, by her sophomore year, she was no longer interested in bedside care.
“I felt like that wasn’t for me. I wanted to do something on the administrative side or contribute in another [non-clinical] way.”
As a young cancer patient, Holmes unknowingly learned the benefits of health informatics. She grew frustrated at sharing the same health information over and over with different doctors.
“When you have chronic conditions, you get to see that the moving of information really matters,” said Holmes. She said many health providers used systems that wouldn’t connect with other systems, leaving out nuances of a patient’s care needs. Health informatics improved the challenge. “Now I use Survivor Link to share my oncology information.”
An undergraduate program capstone project with the Alzheimer’s Association gave Holmes a new career trajectory and introduced her to the field of health informatics.
“My project was determining the healthcare needs of the elderly in rural areas. All my research taught me about the importance of data and health informatics,” Holmes said. “I went from wanting to be a nurse to being a public health [worker] as an analyst or adviser.”
After graduation, job-searching during the pandemic led Holmes back to school for a master’s degree. She had briefly attended Georgia State, and the positive experience along with the convenience of online learning brought her back.
Holmes is excited about her new career opportunities and is grateful to the Georgia State HI program director, Dr. Cedric Truss, for connecting her with Patientory, Inc., a private health IT organization, for her master’s capstone project. Holmes worked directly with Patientory’s CEO and a Georgia State health informatics alumnus on a project utilizing blockchain. Blockchain used in electronic medical records provides a secure method for storing and accessing patient data.
During her final semester, Holmes also taught freshmen at Perimeter College as a graduate assistant and discovered she liked teaching and sharing her passion for health IT. Her students enjoyed the topic and looked forward to learning more about the field. Holmes hopes to create similar opportunities to share informatics with interested students as a professional.
“Health informatics is an interesting field on the rise. It's a necessary field with longevity. It’s going to change the landscape of healthcare.”
-- written by Angela Go
-- photo courtesy of Schuylar Holmes