Alumni testimonial: Helena Hvitfeldt
Helena Hvitfeldt completed her degree in medical informatics in 2005. She has been a doctoral student at LIME and the Medical Management Centre at KI since December 2007.
How did you get your current job?
I had previously worked with one of my supervisors (who was also my supervisor for my Master's project), and once we received a research grant I was able to carry out research.
What concrete connections with your studies can you see in your current job?
I work with computerised simulations and how we can test and simulate operational changes and developments in a risk-free environment before implementing the change in reality. I also work with clinical operations that will test the simulation model and use it when making decisions. So overall, I make a lot of use of my medical informatics knowledge. Where I don't have sufficient knowledge, I try to obtain it from sources such as the range of research courses that all doctoral students study. Because a medical informatician needs knowledge from two broad fields, this sometimes involves studying courses at other universities or in other countries. I've done courses at MIT in the US in order to obtain knowledge that isn´t available in Sweden or Europe.
Are there any other medical informaticians at your workplace? If so, can you briefly describe their work?
Linda Wiik also works at LIME, and she's a doctoral student too. She's currently on maternity leave. Her project is also linked to simulations, but focusing on people who have been committed to forensic psychiatric care and their risk of reoffending.
Carolina Wannheden also works here. She's completing her Master's project, and is working on a project that deals with guideline-based decision-making support for HIV care. She'll soon be heading off to Singapore to study elective courses. Hopefully she'll return after her courses to carry out research.
Who are the possible employers for a medical informatician?
There are lots of them! There's a great deal of talk about the need for people with knowledge within the field of medical informatics, but the term "medical informatician" is rarely used. There are so many areas in which a medical informatician can work: development, project management, operations and training to mention just a few, and then there's research, too.
What are your top tips for students who complete their education and are about to look for their first job as a medical informatician?
There's a real need for medical informaticians, but take a broad approach when searching through the job adverts. Don't just look for adverts seeking medical informaticians, as employers don't always use the term. Breadth in education opens a lot of doors. If you find something that really interests you, call and find out more about the position. And don't forget that there are lots more jobs in other countries!
Briefly describe your typical day at work:
- 08:30 I arrive at work. I plan for the day ahead and decide on my priorities. Then it´s time for a coffee!
- 09:15 I browse through my e-mails and check what´s happening in the various networks that I´m a member of. I prepare a presentation on informatics and IT that I´ll be giving for nursing students next week.
- 10:00 A meeting with some of the other doctoral students at LIME. We go through a book that is compulsory reading for all doctoral students. We have book clubs, seminars, courses and all manner of other interesting and useful activities.
- 11:15 I continue to prepare a presentation about my research subject - simulations of healthcare processes and flows - in preparation for the Healthcare Gala.
- 12:00 Lunch
- 13:00 A meeting with my supervisors on my research project. We also bounce ideas around in preparation for a forthcoming article on simulations.
- 14:10 I continue to work on a simulation model for patient admissions at Karolinska University Hospital.
- 15:00 Coffee break
- 15:30 I work on a joint assignment with another doctoral student who is completing a course in logistics.
- 17:00 I check the simulation model and my e-mail one more time before going home.