When Elsie Gori of Austin, Texas, committed to attend the 2017 Healthcare Information Management Systems Society (HIMMS) Conference in Orlando, she did so with an eye toward the next phase of her career.
Gori, an RN surgery analyst at St. David’s Medical Center in Austin, was close to graduating with her Master of Science in Health Informatics from the USF Health Morsani College of Medicine. She took a break during her busy HIMSS Conference schedule to reflect on how she ended up taking an online program through USF Health, and looked forward to a new professional challenge:
Q: You live in the hometown of the University of Texas and attended that institution, but you decided to pursue your MSHI online through USF Health. Why was that?
I considered UT, but they didn’t have health informatics. They had more of “informatics without a health twist.” And it required on-campus attendance, but I wanted online.
Q: You wanted online because … ?
Because I was working as a nurse. I couldn’t devote the time to on-campus classes.
Q: What else contributed to you choosing USF Health’s online program?
I picked USF because they were not the five-week increments, but they were the eight-week increments. I felt like I would get more, knowing that it’s double-time. To me, I could learn better than the triple-time courses in five weeks. The fact that they had half-semester, mid-semester admissions helped me. I didn’t have to wait for a regular academic calendar to get admitted to the program. I tried a Texas program and missed the date because their web presence wasn’t updated. I got really turned off and concerned and I was like, “Let me do some more research.” I found that Morsani was the only medical school that gave a health informatics course. I thought that would provide more “gumption” to my degree.
Q: When you conducted your online research, what search term did you use to find USF Health?
I think I did “best health informatics masters,” something like that.
Q: Looks like it worked out well. And now you’re here at the HIMSS Conference looking for opportunities. What is your strategy? Any job search tips you can share?
Something I’m learning here at the conference is, “What job titles match my degree?” Because, first of all, health informatics is a new field, an emerging field. All these companies have created jobs where they use health informatics, but they call them different things. I’m an analyst, but I think somebody said I need to use the word ‘systems’ when I’m searching for a job. Look for system analyst or system something.
Different companies, in hospitals, they use analysts for different things. Even my own hospital where I work at, an analyst has anything from associate to a master’s and they pay accordingly, and based on different facilities, it depends on how they use them.
Q: What do you want to do?
When I found the degree, we had just gone through a CPOE (Computerized Physician Order Entry) upgrade in our hospital. It involved all of our physicians. We transitioned to do computer order entry. I wanted to be the person that came in Monday through Thursday, planned it, said this is how you do it, this is how you enter it, and then out of there in six weeks. I was becoming an empty nest parent, I could travel, so I could do that. Of course, I know I have to work, first, for somebody to learn everything, become an expert, and then consulting.
I’m finding that because I was a semi-conductor technician for 15 years (before she became a nurse), there might be more doors open to me. So, I feel like health informatics marries two passions of mine: High tech and (nursing) R&D. So, I was really excited to find out there’s a degree that does that.
Q: What was the first step toward seeking your online MSHI?
I went to my CNO (chief nursing officer). I told her I want to bring my full resume, my smart resume, and I want to talk about career opportunities. This is what they’re looking for, tech and nurse-clinical. She wanted me to do nursing informatics, of course, because she’s the CNO. But I chose health informatics because I wanted to have a choice. I can do nursing with a health informatics degree.
Q: What was the biggest challenge for you during your time as an online student with USF Health?
No breaks between courses and no traditional breaks.
Q: How did you overcome that?
I would work diligently to finish my coursework at least two days early to have at least a weekend off between courses.
Q: Is there anything else you’d like to share about the online student experience, some piece of wisdom you’d like to pass on to prospective students?
Find a study buddy or two. It’s different than a traditional classroom where students tend to gravitate into groups based on other social attributes. I found it easy to connect with people whose discussion posts I could relate to and we’ve held virtual study groups throughout the entire coursework at USF.