Health Informatics alumnus Eneimi Allwell-Brown urges “Build networks of people!”
Name: Eneimi Allwell-Brown
Degree: Master's in Health Informatics
Graduation year: 2016
Tell us your story!
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 apply. I zeroed in on KI mainly because of the course content. Only after I arrived in 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!
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.
An every day could look like this: I would arrive to work around 8 am and grab a cup of tea! Most of my colleagues got in around 8:30 or 9am, so I had some time to myself to plan the day. Given the agile nature of our work, I got to change contexts rather frequently. I could 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 could 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 was the typical day during the high demand periods. When we did hav (very infrequent) slower periods, we took advantage of that time and enjoyed social events with our team. I cherished those, they did not come often!
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...
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
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.