Melissa Warren, assistant director of strategic performance at Logan University, never thought she would pursue a master’s degree after earning her undergraduate degree in data analytics. When she heard that Logan added a specialized track in data analytics to its Master of Science in Health Informatics program, however, Melissa knew it was the right choice for her.
“I work in the health care education industry, so I need to understand the ins and outs of health informatics and data analytics to be successful,” Melissa said.
The Master of Science in Health Informatics (MSHI) is an interdisciplinary, comprehensive graduate degree program that prepares students to utilize computer technology in the advancement of medicine. Graduates of Logan’s MSHI program have the necessary skills and knowledge to work with hospitals, medical groups and clinics, health insurance organizations, research and policy organizations, hardware and software vendors and internet companies, among many others.
In 2019, three new tracks were added to the MSHI program. The first is a leadership track, targeted toward students currently in leadership roles related to health informatics or striving for leadership positions in the future. In this track, student will build expertise in three major healthcare areas: healthcare administration, health information systems and technology, and management and leadership. The second is a data analytics track, for students new to the industry or for those who want to understand analytics reporting in health care. In this track, students will develop the skills necessary to manage, manipulate and analyze large-scale clinical and operational databases. The third is an applied informatics track, which is designed to help health care professionals learn how to manage and analyze data for use in clinical decisions by patients and providers while advancing quality improvement efforts across health systems.
“We found out our MSHI students had a wide variety of backgrounds, and they needed specialized tracks to blend IT, health and business administration to excel in their careers,” said Deshae Redden, EdD, MSHI program director.
To help rebrand the program and create new pathways for students with diverse backgrounds, Dr. Redden presented her recommendations to the newly created MSHI advisory board. The board consists of nurse practitioners, consultants, analysts, vice presidents of supply chain and major healthcare organizations, directors of clinical information systems, architects, programmers, coders and Logan faculty and students. This experienced and diverse board helped bring these new program tracks to life, sharing curriculum ideas and the skills needed to excel in a career in health informatics.
For Melissa, having a diverse cohort of students got her excited about the program. She said she wanted the opportunity to learn from a cohort in a variety of careers to broaden her understanding of the health care field.
“There is a lot of collaboration in the classroom, and we feel challenged to ask thought-provoking questions,” Melissa said. “We look at real-world examples in the health care industry to think about critically.”
Dr. Redden, Academic Success Coach Stacia Rosen, and the Admissions Department together created a new MSHI recruiting and admissions process, focused on giving students everything they need to achieve their goals. As part of their first class, MSHI students work with Jazmine Newsome, career specialist, to update their resume and LinkedIn profile, define their career goals and get tips on applying for jobs.
Additionally, students have access to Logan’s writing center to help with their classwork, a service Melissa has taken advantage of.
“I’ve used the writing center a few times, and it has really boosted my confidence,” Melissa said.
Dr. Redden also built a cross-functional team with Student Affairs, Admissions and Marketing to collaborate and design a career guide for MSHI students that includes information on careers, salaries and more. She makes it a point to speak with each student who comes into the program to assess their goals and discover what motivates them in their career.
“Our goal is to inspire students—what’s out there, what they’re missing and how they can get there,” Dr. Redden said.
Now, Dr. Redden is working with the MSHI advisory board and Dana Wehrli, assistant dean of experiential learning, to develop new experiential learning opportunities to help students with their capstone project at the end of the program. Prior to COVID-19, the program identified more than 30 different businesses as potential partners. Dr. Redden hopes to soon add partnerships with the World Health Organization, Pan American Health Association and other health care information and management systems associations, as well.
“There are a lot of opportunities for our students to get experience with public health data analysis and help with COVID decision making,” said Dr. Redden. “The sky’s the limit on what students can do in working with health departments on COVID health metrics.”
This fall saw the largest class in the history of the MSHI program. Melissa plans to graduate in December 2021 and said she would recommend this program to anyone who is considering a career in health informatics.
“This program can really propel you in your career,” Melissa said. “We learn from the best of the best in the field, and we learn from each other.”
Interested in learning more about Logan’s MSHI program? Join us for a free live webinar on Wednesday, February 24, 2021 at 5 p.m. CST. Click here to reserve your spot.