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Health Informatics Concentration Celebrates First Graduates

Posted Jun. 13, 2013
In May 2013, Don Jason, became one of the first two students to graduate with a health informatics concentration in the Master of Science in Information Architecture and Knowledge Management (IAKM) program in the School of Library and Information Science (SLIS). At the same time, he received a Master of Library and Information Science (M.L.I.S.) degree. Don P Jason

Jason, originally from Cincinnati, received his undergraduate degree in journalism from Ohio University’s E.W. Scripps School of Journalism. He became interested in the health informatics field in 2003 while working with medical records in Cincinnati.

“At that time medical records were paper-based, but I began to see them shift from a paper-based system to an electronic system,” Jason said. “This fascinated me, so I wanted to learn more, and I knew that I would eventually pursue education in the health informatics field.”

Jason was already in the M.L.I.S. program at Kent State University when SLIS launched the health informatics concentration in 2011.

“Health informatics is a relatively new discipline that is still on the cutting edge,” he said. “It combines health information technology skills with people skills. Many of the classes provided some element of human resources or people management. The courses taught students how to manage a hospital's IT department, the computers and the people. I think that being able to work efficiently with coworkers and colleagues is a universal lesson that will serve me well throughout my career. Also being an effective leader and manager is a trait that I can use no matter where my career takes me.”

Health Informatics (HI) is the science that defines how health information is captured, analyzed, transmitted and managed. It focuses on information systems, informatics principles and information technology as it is applied to the continuum of health care delivery and patient care.

Jason hopes to become an academic librarian specializing in health sciences, and he believes this program has given him the basic qualifications to begin his job search. Most recently he worked as a library student assistant at Northeast Ohio Medical University (NEOMED). Beginning in fall 2013 he will begin serving as one of five National Library of Medicine 2013-2014 Associate Fellows in Washington, D.C.

"Generally librarians have one master's degree in library and information science and another in a subject or discipline,” Jason said. “The Master of Science in IAKM (with the health informatics concentration) combined with the M.L.I.S. gives me two master’s degrees and makes me qualified for many jobs across the country.”

The health informatics program increased Jason’s technology skill set, giving him advanced computer skills and exposing him to software suites he had never heard of or used before.

“More specifically, I learned how to build databases that can be used to store patient information and other data essential to running a health care facility,” he said. “Computer skills in today's job market increase any candidate’s marketability. The ability to make spreadsheets and databases can be used in any discipline.”

The health informatics coursework is rigorous and technology-heavy, so students have to be willing to put in the time necessary to master the computer software, said Jason.

“I would tell students that the program is really for people who have experience in health care,” he said. “While you can still complete the program without this background, students with some background in health care tend to have more to contribute in the classroom. Also, it helps if students have some experience with computer science or technology.”

In addition to Jason, Elizabeth Timm also graduated in May with the M.S. IAKM concentration in health informatics.

“We’re excited to have our first health informatics graduates get out into the workforce,” said Christine Hudak, Ph.D., RN-BC, CPHIMS, SLIS professor and HI concentration coordinator. “There is such a strong need for professionals with these unique skills, and that demand will only continue to grow as federal mandates for electronic records begin taking effect. Our program is off to a great start with these first two graduates.”

For more information about the health informatics concentration, visit http://iakm.kent.edu/health-informatics/.

 

-- By Nicole Gennarelli