DEGREE: Master's in Health Informatics, 2016
CURRENT ROLE : Medical Informatics Specialist, Cambio Healthcare Systems. Stockholm, Sweden.
What brought you to KI in the first place?
With my background as a medical doctor and lots of informal experience in IT, I was looking for formal education/training that would draw on experience from both fields. After the decision to go with a health informatics program, I started to hunt for funding and found the Swedish Institute scholarship. Only after finding possible funding did I go searching for institutions where the scholarship would applied. I zeroed in on KI mainly because of the course content. Only after I arrived Sweden and got to learn more about KI did I start to realize the measure of opportunity that I had ‘stumbled upon’ in being able to study at a world renown institution!
After you graduated from KI, what was your next step and how did you find this opportunity?
It was quite tricky finding a job. I had applied for numerous positions without anything concrete. I had spoken to my thesis supervisor and a few people outside of my network. In the interim, I continued with my Swedish language studies and obtained a driver’s license. I was not keen on further PhD studies, so I focused my efforts on networking, and hoping for some kind of breakthrough that would lead to a job.
After 6 months, my supervisor contacted me with the news that Cambio was looking for clinical modelers. I got in touch with Rong Chen at Cambio and started to work with his team at Cambio on a part-time basis as a clinical modeler, and after about 4 months I was offered a full-time position as a medical informatics specialist. The medical informatics specialist role incorporates clinical modeler, requirement owner, and few other roles.
Describe a day on the job in your current role.
I arrive work around 8 am and grab a cup of tea! Most of my colleagues get in around 8:30 or 9am, so I have some time to myself to plan the day. Given the agile nature of our work, I get to change contexts rather frequently. I can start the day modeling FHIR resources and GDL guidelines for a CDS app. After 2 or 3 hours, I might be developing a system requirements specification (SRS) document for a new project, or sitting with our UX designer to polish design features of a new CDS app. My day can include meeting with our front-end developers to finalize some interface features for a CDS app, meeting with customers over Skype or at their premises to gather requirements, troubleshooting existing customer issues, or providing support to other teams within Cambio. That is the typical day during high demand periods. When we do have (very infrequent) slower periods, we take advantage of this time and enjoy social events with our team. I cherish those, they do not come often!
Did your Master's education offer enough knowledge for handling your job? Did you complement your education with self-study? If so, how?
The standardization course in the HI masters program gave me some insight into what was possible in that area. However, if I had to rely on that alone, the learning curve at work would have been quite steep. Fortunately, my thesis subject required me to expand my knowledge about HI standards, and I had to do all sorts of self-study and experimenting to get a good grip of the subject area. I contacted the pioneers of two HI standards - openEHR and FHIR as well as other professionals in the subject domain and learnt quite a bit. Looking back, I think the experience of writing my thesis was what really put me in good stead for my current position. This experience is what drives me to try to support the current Master's students in the HI program as much as possible in getting a good foundation about some HI standards. You just never know...
What is your suggestion for present Master's students towards life and study?
It is great if you already have some direction as to where you want to go career-wise or what you want to work with and accomplish, but do not belittle the strength of randomness or chance. Build networks of people! This latter fact was being drummed in routinely throughout my time at KI, but being someone who does not do too much socializing, I always wondered what all the fuss was about. Today, I do not think it can be overemphasized. Help and support can come in the all kinds of ways.
What is your advice to students at KI who are about to graduate?
Stay in touch with colleagues and teachers. Always keep busy doing something – do not despise ‘humble’ beginnings. Best of luck!
Interview and correspondence thanks to Yanghong Liu, current Master's student in PHS.