What did you do prior to attending (what is now known as) SBMI?
I went to medical school. I also did computer sciences (prior to med school) and I was always trying to automate my professor’s offices (they loved it) and always trying to introduce technology to the clinics.
What drew you to health informatics? How did you initially get into the field?
The notion that I could combine my love for technology with my passion in medicine is what first attracted me to informatics. Discovering later the more formal principles and theories of informatics is what really got me interested and made me think I could actually “treat” and “help” more people by doing informatics than I would ever be able to treat/help by practicing as a physician. My hospital in Mexico (where I trained) was very forward thinking at that time and gave me a lot of support by sending me to my first AMIA meeting in Washington where I got to meet the group from the NLM who invited me to apply for one of their summer programs. I ended up attending and doing some work with digital X-rays and developing algorithms to aid screening. That was my first formal experience with informatics. It was there that I learned about the UT program and the rest is history.
How has the field changed since you graduated?
I often tell my wife that all the stars aligned the year I graduated. I graduated from the program in 2008, the year President Obama signed into law the healthcare reform and with it the HITECH act! In the past five to six years the field of health informatics has exploded and one could say become mainstream! Being a recent graduate of the program at that time meant a lot of doors and opportunities suddenly opened. The notion of informatics, the application of its principles and the importance of it has become common knowledge in the industry. I think that is the biggest change I’ve seen.
What did you do after graduating, and where are you now?
I graduated in December of 2008. I had applied to several positions but I had no offers thus I worked out a deal with Dr. Turley to stay as his fellow for six months working to publish several papers we were writing while I continued looking for jobs! In February I applied to a position with Hardeep Singh in Baylor/VA doing research on the same topic of my dissertation (EHR Communication). It was an amazing experience for someone who had just graduated. The group I joined taught me a lot about the real world research in informatics and applications of informatics. I had the opportunity to publish several papers with Hardeep Singh and Dean Sitting. I call that my fellowship since I learned so many things. I worked two years at the center and then I was recruited by the St. Luke’s system to be the Director of their Clinical Effectiveness and Analytics group.