CHIME Alumni Profiles
Several CHIME alumni have provided brief profiles, explaining something of their backgrounds, why they undertook the health informatics programme, how it has helped them in their careers, and what they are doing now. The NHS Health Informatics Careers website includes further real life stories that show how the NHS values staff with health informatics expertise and what career opportunities are available.
Amy McKeown, MSc Health Informatics 2008
Managing Director, Xanthis
Before starting the Health Informatics Programme I undertook a first degree in Human Sciences and then worked as a business analyst for Accenture on the NHS NpfiT project. Then in 2003 I set up my own independent business Xanthis providing interactive, electronic stress management solutions and consultancy to organisations. Currently I am working as a postgraduate assistant at UCL at the Department of Management Sciences and Innovation.
I decided to do the Health Informatics programme because I have always been interested in how technology can be used in healthcare and I wanted the academic status of a MSc.
CHIME’s Health Informatics programme was flexible, part-time and allowed me to explore different areas of health informatics. I was attracted to the modular format and the range of topics taught – the programme gives a good overview of the discipline with a theoretical underpinning one would not get from work experience alone.
I enjoyed most aspects of the programme. I found the range of people on the programme interesting as it was a way of seeing different aspects to Health Informatics. You could listen to different applications and experiences with technology – very useful indeed to get a real world view. The module Creating Online Educational Resources was especially useful as this relates to my work.
At the moment I am running a business and consulting. I have found the theoretical understanding and background knowledge that I have acquired invaluable, especially that from doing my dissertation. I can speak confidently and with knowledge about a range of health informatics topics and understand more from others e.g.: the point of view from techies. There is also a certain level of respect I have obtained by having an MSc from UCL – it opens many doors and I also had the opportunity to mix with people from different backgrounds
My advice to anyone thinking about undertaking this programme is
be serious about why you want to do this programme. I found the
programme interesting and challenging and loved being back in a
learning environment. It was challenging sometimes but very rewarding.
Maria Barnard, MSc Health Informatics 2007
Consultant in Diabetes & Endocrinology, The Whittington Hospital NHS Trust, London
I decided to undertake the Health Informatics programme because I was at a stage in my career when I wanted to broaden my horizons and not just spend all my time on my day to day work in the NHS. I wanted to develop my personal skills and take some time out to think, but also wanted to do something that I thought was current, relevant and interesting. I had heard from a colleague about the course. She spoke highly of it and she also gave me some advice about which modules the students enjoyed the most!
It's difficult for me to narrow this down which parts of the programme I found useful. I enjoyed being a student again and meeting a whole range of people from different backgrounds. Doing the various assignments was definitely hard work, but refreshed my writing skills and taught me how to research topics and write under pressure. Doing the dissertation was very demanding, but taught me about qualitative research, something I had no experience in, and how to do an ethics proposal. With regard to the different modules, I found them all useful and interesting and we had some excellent, inspiring lecturers. However, I especially liked Research Methods, which has helped me to interpret and understand medical studies and papers, and Creating Educational Resources, which has left me with a website that I hope to launch for our patients to use.
I did a broad range of different modules and that's been hugely valuable. I have been able to apply knowledge from the course to developing research opportunities, writing ethics proposals, developing educational initiatives for patients and in negotiating with my Trust management around staffing and manpower issues. I have remained in contact with the Health Informatics course tutors. This has also been really useful – I'm working on some projects with them and they remain a valuable source of information and advice.
I would say to anyone considering taking the Health Informatics programme to definitely go for it! It will be a challenging but also very rewarding experience that will open doors to many different opportunities in the future.
Note: The modules Research Methods and Creating Educational Resources have since been replaced by Research Methods in Healthcare and Creating Online Educational Resources (withdrawn 2014) respectively.
Melissa Coales , MSc Health Informatics 2007
Business & Service Manager for Women’s & Children’s Division, The Hillingdon Hospital NHS Trust
The reputation of the course, feedback from two work colleagues that had just completed the course and career progression were the reasons I decided to do this programme.
It was all extremely useful but definitely the things around information, statistics, and decision support.
The difference the Health Informatics programme has made to my working life is that I think more carefully of the implications of information. How to use information and IT to aid decision making. In addition it has helped me climb the career ladder.
If you are thinking of taking this study programme then it is
definitely a course worth undertaking if you are in the health service.
The three day release is good and it is great to meet the other
students. It is difficult at times to get a work/uni/life balance when
it comes to coursework/exams etc but it is worth it in the end!
Paul Hilder, MSc Health Informatics 2007
Project Manager, Connecting for Health projects, Primary Care, East and North Herts Primary Care Trust
I decided to undertake the Health Informatics programme because I wanted to challenging myself as I didn't hold a first degree and I thought it would be NHS career future proofing. It helped that my NHS employer gave me full backing and paid some of tuition.
I found it all useful, especially leading management and change and consumer health informatics. The dissertation was a real challenge.
The Health Informatics Programme has made a difference in my working life in terms of being able to demonstrate on going professional development on job application forms and applying for jobs asking for a Masters Degree.
My advice to anyone wishing to undertake this programme is firstly think carefully about time commitment and decide why you want the degree.
Kyaw Htun, MSc Health Informatics 2007
Health Informatics Learning Consultant, Cerner UK
I decided to do Health Informatics because I wanted to have a greater understanding of Healthcare outside of my work role at the time (i.e. Technical Analyst in an NHS Trust). I also wanted to know what changes were taking place as a result of NPfIT.
The final dissertation allowed me to understand a patient's journey from first visiting a GP through to Outpatients. I gained a far greater understanding about the involvement of different Health Care professionals during the process and the communication between Primary and Secondary care.
This programme gave me an opportunity to move away from the NHS and work with a leading Health Informatics company that is heavily involved in CfH and NPfIT.
I would strongly recommend to anyone interested in Public Health and the impact of NPfIT on the NHS. It also gave me a strong idea about the challenges of using and implementing technology in the Health Care environment.
Zahiera Adam, MSc Health Informatics 2006
Formulary, St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust
When I started the Health Informatics programme an increasing number of medicines information was moving from paper to electronic format. I needed to improve my skills and confidence in involving the merits of paper versus electronic applications. I was also vaguely aware of the NHS’s IT plans and so this programme as an opportunity to extend my knowledge in this area.
CHIME was able to engage with students as adults which certainly improved the standard of class discussions.
For me the Health Informatics programme improved my confidence in IT related discussions/projects at work, including being able to engage with external IT companies and providers. I also found I had new found credibility in the department on IT related/informatics issues. I was also able to improve efficiency and standard of practice in the daily use of IT resources and software.
In view of the strategic investment in NHS IT, I think it is imperative that certain aspects of health informatics be included in the core curriculum of all undergraduate programmes relating to the health profession. Inappropriate use of IT resources and lack of training has created new elements of risk in the clinical environment i.e. inadequate knowledge management skills like providing guidelines, document management and version control.
Everyone at CHIME contributed towards ensuring a thoroughly enjoyable adult learning experience. Of special note was the department’s ability to maintain a sufficiently challenging environment without loosing sight of the personal demands of adult education.
Toby Cave , MSc Health Informatics 2006
IT Director , Cancer Partners UK
Health IT comes with many challenges, such as compliance with data protection and freedom of information acts, sharing of information between healthcare organisations and the change management required to enable people to migrate from paper to computerised systems. In contrast to clinical training there are few formal qualifications mandated for health IT professionals. The main reason I wanted to study Health Informatics was to consolidate Health IT knowledge in a structured course, and improve my CV.
The MSc in health informatics enabled me to think more broadly about health IT, beyond patient data to consider the information requirements of the whole organisation, and how this supports the business of healthcare. An area of health IT I had not appreciated before studying the MSc was change management. An unexpected benefit was the ability to network and share ideas with other health IT professionals and see how other organisations approach some of the challenges.
Since graduating I have become IT director for an independent healthcare company called Cancer Partners UK, where I am tasked with building an IT service to underpin all aspects of the business. My Health Informatics MSc is invaluable in designing, building and developing this service from a technical, information and end user perspective.
Nhamo Mahovo, MSc Health Informatics 2006
Product Specialist – CM Chemicals
For me the Health Informatics programme was an opportunity to update my knowledge of the use of I.T. in Health care and to have a better understanding of organisational plans in the NHS.
The programme is not just about I.T. in healthcare but offers
insights into the management of change in the NHS and equips
you with the knowledge to pursue a variety of career options.
I was promoted 3 times during and after I started the programme.
Paul Dajuk, Certificate Health Informatics 2003
Business Analyst/Project Manager, Axis Technology Pty Ltd, Australia
I undertook the Health Informatics programme to broaden my career opportunities within the Healthcare and I.T. industries and to gain a better understanding of how I.T. systems interact within the Healthcare environment.
The core modules provided a good introduction to each discipline. In particular Principles of Health Informatics, each lecture provided a clear understanding of each framework of health informatics. Theories were easily understood when they were applied to day to day practices.
The programme gave has given me a better understanding that information systems within healthcare need to be business driven and not I.T. driven.
Everyone should be open minded about all aspects of the programme,
most topics will come in handy at some stage of your working
Bernard Fernando, MSc Health Informatics 2003
I decided to undertake a health informatics course because it’s a new and interesting academic pursuit. I also believed that healthcare of the future will largely depend on how we handle clinical information. How information systems could harm patients was my special interest. UCL offered me an excellent opportunity to pursue this interest. I still continue to work on this interesting subject.
I found all parts of the programme interesting, in particular the Decision Support Systems and Artificial Intelligence in Medicine modules. Being exposed to new areas of study was also very interesting.
While on the programme I found it made my professional life interesting as I was networking with people with similar interests. I was also able to participate in local research projects which were interesting.
CHIME’s Health Informatics programme was quite flexible and ideal for people with full-time jobs. The modular nature of the programme enabled me to stop and start the course because of my work commitments. However CHIME demands very high standards and so it is the value of an MSc degree that you get.
Nikki Devitt, MSc Health Informatics 2002
Staff Grade Physician in care of the Elderly, Weston Area Health Trust
My job became rather routine after years in the same post and I wanted a challenge, something deliberately outside my comfort zone. I was vaguely aware of plans for electronic patient records and thought this programme would be a good way of informing myself. I am a practising clinician and out training does lack an informatics component, this was a good way of trying to make good this deficiency.
The Knowledge Management and Research Methods modules were not all what I expected! But these topics have fed most directly into my day-to-day work and practice. They have enabled me to be much more conversant with the literature in my field and I now run the Journal Club in my Trust and mentor juniors from evidence based medicine critical appraisal.
Our Trust was one of the first in the southern cluster to ‘go live’ with the NPIT systems and as a clinician with an interest I have been involved in consultation and education of various user groups.
Christopher Martin, MSc Health Informatics 2002
I undertook the Health Informatics Programme to both develop and validate my health informatics and research skills. I particularly found the Principles of Health Informatics and Knowledge Management modules useful.
Overall I have improved my knowledge management skills. My GP practice is more reliably evidence based as I am more effective at finding and appraising evidence.
I found CHIME’s Health Informatics programme worthwhile, it was very friendly atmosphere and it was a fantastic opportunity to meet other people in other disciplines also interested in the same topic, this was very enlightening.
Archana Tapuria, Certificate Health Informatics
I have a background of clinical medicine and biomedical engineering. As I started working in the field of Health Informatics, the Health Informatics programme seemed to be a great opportunity to understand the field better and to learn more about the current clinical systems in use. It definitely helped me to build up my knowledge in the area of medical Informatics, to learn about the research methods and the principles and logic involved in Health Informatics and the various clinical systems.
I am currently working as a Research Fellow in Clinical Informatics in CHIME, UCL.
Stephen Walsh, MSc Health Informatics 2001
Consultant Physician in Acute Medicine, Heart of England NHS Trust
I had been meddling with computer applications in medicine informally for years and wanted a more formal, structured and inclusive approach to medical informatics. The MSc in Health Informatics was just what I needed.
I found the practical aspects of the programme useful, for example building your own educational website; analysing thousands of records from a database for trends and tendencies; and writing my own computer program for the thesis. I also enjoyed escaping from work and getting away to London once a month for classes.
Having an MSc in Health Informatics enabled me to get two programmed activities per week (4 hours each) included in my job plan to do "informatics" for the Trust. I work in the Medical Assessment Unit at the smaller district general hospital in Solihull, so most of my informatics contribution has had local rather than Trust-wide application. Nevertheless this gives me one day per week where I do what I enjoy: work with large spreadsheets; extract data and analyse and graph it; keep my acute medicine intranet web site up to date and teach other doctors how technology can benefit them