One More Year to Go…

I’ve been having a hard time comprehending the fact that May 2011 is already here, which marks a significant milestone for me: I have only one year left in UIC’s Master of Science in Health Informatics (MSHI) online program.  I remember thinking mid-year last year, I’ll never finish this program, but sure enough time keeps flying by.  Other classmates of mine that started the program well before me will be graduating here in the next few days.  The feeling for them I’m sure is bittersweet.  For those classmates of mine that are moving on, I wish them the best of luck.  There’s so much we’ve all learned from each other!

At the end of this week, I will have completed Professor Pawola’s Healthcare IT Vendor Management course, which has yielded excellent discussion and debate among classmates.  The course units outlined some of the key topics that managers and corporations face in today’s healthcare IT (HIT) industry, including:

  • Why many IT projects fail, while others succeed
  • The importance of strategic planning and building a business case for implementation projects
  • Vendor evaluation and contract negotiation

I personally have not had a lot of experience in this area of HIT, so it was really nice to be able to feed off my classmates, professors, and facilitators who all had plenty of experience in these areas.  I always looked forward to Professor Pawola’s feedback from each student’s anonymous input after each completed unit.  To me, one of the greatest things about this program is that you have professors that are very experienced in the field and extremely passionate about what they do.  Much like Professor Pawola, you can always tell that UIC’s MSHI professors love what they do based upon their written lectures and feedback.

Furthermore, I am grateful for being an MSHI student, as I’m quickly learning the areas of HIT that I enjoy and could see myself excelling in down the road (not to mention the fact that I don’t have to quit my day job!).  I think that being part of an EMR/EHR implementation team, for example, would be a great experience, and I’ll definitely be keeping a mental note of that.

Additionally, UIC has been doing a fantastic job advising me on which courses to take, and when to take them, as I continue on my journey.  I want to personally thank Sabriena Barnette for dealing with all my pestering questions, as I set a goal of graduating by Spring 2012.

Last, I have noticed a nice and surprising increase in my network of contacts in the field.  For those of you that are wondering about job placement and networking opportunities that UIC provides, you’re in good hands.  My network of contacts on LinkedIn for example, has jumped from 350 or so, to over 500, in a matter of eight months.  The administration does a great job of informing students when firms are looking for Health Informatics and Health Information Management (HIM) professionals, and UIC’s MSHI program is well known in informatics circles.  I was recently at a networking event in Atlanta hosted by what I would call “true informaticists”, (people much smarter than me!) many of whom work for the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).  Among the attendees in the crowd were physicians, CIO’s, tenured college professors, and entrepreneurs, many of whom were familiar with UIC’s MSHI program.

If you ever look at job descriptions for informatics or health information management jobs listed on job boards or networking sites, you may have noticed things like: Master’s degree in informatics or health information management highly preferred.  For those of you that have not yet inquired about the MSHI program, I highly encourage you to do so!  When coupled with several years’ worth of working experience, there is much to be gained.

Stay tuned.  I have a week off before I start my next class for the first summer session, and I’ll be sure to catch up with you all then.

Until next time!


About the author


Ryan Esslinger

Ryan Esslinger is a graduate of the University of Illinois at Chicago’s (UIC) Online Health Informatics Program. Ryan currently works full time as an Informatics Analyst at Wellstar Health System.


  • Ryan,

    It’s been fun and so informative tagging along with you as you successfully advance through UIC’s online curriculum (along with everything else you have going on!). Looking forward to next semester!


  • Thanks Gwen! I’m still taking classes through the summer as well, and will be sure to keep everyone posted on how things are progressing!


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