Alumni Spotlight – Finding Career Success with a Health Informatics Degree

Patrick Wende, M.S., explains how the Master’s in Health Informatics supports his career path

We talked to Patrick about his experience in the Health Informatics program, his new position, and the future of the health informatics field.

Tell us about yourself and how you decided to pursue a Master of Science in Health Informatics at The University of Scranton.

My name is Patrick Wende and am originally from Northeastern Pennsylvania. I attended The University of Scranton as an undergraduate, studying exercise science and sports. While I found that field fascinating, it wasn’t the career field I was looking for.

By chance, I landed in a role at a local hospital teaching professionals how to use electronic health record software, and found that the health informatics field was the field for me. After being in health informatics for some time, I decided to pursue a graduate degree and chose to return to The University of Scranton. My choice was largely due to the history I had with the school, and my knowledge of the quality of education I would get—notwithstanding it being a brand new degree program.

How did the program fit into your job?

Throughout the program I worked at Geisinger, a local health system, managing their trauma registry. Though very data- and writing-intensive, this position allowed me to interact with clinical and administrative professionals to understand where health technology fit into their workflow and the changing landscape of health care.

One course, healthcare policy management, impacted my work immediately. While it was taught mostly using the government as an example, the principles were very easily translatable to the private organizational healthcare structure as well. The course explored how the policy process functions when considering the need for political momentum and effective change management. Combined with my experience in interacting with administrators, this knowledge completely changed my perception of the field.

Working with these administrators helped me better understand why processes and policies I’ve experienced in the past have or have not worked. The overall impact of the ways process and policy are enacted, changed and managed was a major eye-opener for me, and I’ll be using that information forever.

How did you balance your data- and writing-intensive job with your coursework?

It was a challenge, no doubt. I was fortunate to have a supervisor at my job that was very understanding of the challenges that I would be undergoing as a student and a full-time professional, and she was flexible with me.

I know that’s something not every student will have. It certainly is a challenge to maintain 40-plus hours of work per week and the student workload, but you just have to develop a new routine. You prioritize your time in such a way that you can complete your work and school work while still having time for yourself.

Scranton’s course structure made it much easier to build this routine. The workload is laid out by week, so you aren’t overburdened with a mass amount of work to do all at once.

What project did you do for your capstone course?

My capstone project took me to a wide variety of facilities in the Geisinger system to compare and analyze how the same process worked at four different hospitals. My job was to document the differences between them, their strengths and weaknesses, and opportunities for process standardization across the hospitals.

I had to learn to work with each stakeholder group impacted by the process; otherwise, I’d have only bits and pieces of the information vital to understanding the process as a whole.

There were so many moving parts, regardless of location, that it required me to confirm information at various levels. That aspect was astonishing in and of itself—realizing just how many layers of personnel you need to explore to effectively document a process.

How does technology fit into health informatics?

The field is growing more technical. Informaticists—a common health informatics title—work as the intermediary between clinical and technical personnel. When I was looking for new professional opportunities, many informaticist positions required a solid technical base and were seeking candidates who weren’t afraid of learning new technologies.

Essentially, if you’re interested in pursuing this field, you need to be willing to embrace the idea of new and developing technology.

In my current role, I will be able to use many of the skills the program teaches that are geared toward informaticists—again, that link between the clinical and technical. But, if you were to draw a spectrum with technical on one end and clinical on the other, you wouldn’t be able to place the informaticist right in the middle. They would be more toward the technical end of the spectrum. At least that’s what I’ve experienced in my role, and I think that goes for the majority of informaticist positions as well.

Do you need a technical background for Scranton’s program?

You don’t need to be very technical to get through the program, but as the field skews more toward the technical side, the curriculum is sure to follow. Scranton’s program introduces technical topics in early courses and gives students a base from which to gain job-specific skills.

I get a lot of built-in education at my current job, especially as I’m learning the specific software that we use. The degree prepares you to enter the workforce, you just have to know that part of being an informaticist is learning how technology fits into your specific position.

Finally, do you have any advice for prospective students?

The health care field is very interesting and has a wide range of opportunities, offers, and room for a diverse workforce. Students should take any opportunities to speak to or shadow people in the field to make sure that it’s the field they want to be in because it’s so unique.

 

The University of Scranton’s Master of Science in Health Informatics program is at the cutting edge of this emerging field.

Use Your Career to Reduce Stress for Others

How Does Therapeutic Behavior Management Relate to Business?

Not only are these tips useful to Human Resources professionals, but they can help us all deal to stress in our work lives.

More than 80% of workers in the United States admit to having job-related stress. This continued stress frequently leads to burnout, which can affect an employee’s ability to remain productive in the workplace. Therapeutic behavior management can be beneficial to any employee experiencing job-related stress.

Job Stress vs. Professional Challenges

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the perception of job stress is frequently confused with professional challenges. These two concepts are not one and the same.

Job stress leads to unhealthy physical and emotional reactions, whereas professional challenges can energize an individual both mentally and physically.

Challenges motivate professionals to master new skills that will improve their job performance. Successfully completing a challenge at work frequently leads to the same feeling of satisfaction an individual experienced following accomplishments during their college career.

A survey conducted by Northwestern National Life finds that 40% of the workers surveyed feel their jobs are very stressful. Additionally, one-fourth of employees consider their jobs to be the number one stressor in their lives.

The Effect of Job Stress on an Individual’s Health

When an individual becomes stressed, the brain begins to prepare the body to take defensive action. This defensive action is frequently referred to as the fight or flight response.

During this response:

  • The nervous system arouses and releases hormones to enhance the senses
  • Respiration deepens
  • The pulse quickens
  • Muscles become tense

Although occasional or brief episodes of stress are of little concern, stressful situations that keep the body in a continuous state of activation must be addressed.

A continued state of fight or flight activation increases the amount of wear and tear on the biological systems throughout the body. Eventually, the ability for the body to defend and repair itself becomes compromised. This increases the risk of the individual becoming ill or injured.

Reduce Stress by Changing Your Thoughts About Work

Dr. Frank Ghinassi, who has served on the board of the Academic Behavioral Health Consortium, states that in order to make it through the workday with less stress, we need to alter the way we think about work. Changing our perspective may significantly reduce the apprehension and nervousness we experience in the workplace.

Ghinassi states that it is not necessarily the facts that compel our emotions, but what we think about a particular event. Our cognitive interpretations are responsible for driving how we feel.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Job-Related Stress

The National Institute of Mental Health recognizes CBT as an effective treatment for anxiety disorders and depression.

CBT therapy is unique in that it focuses on the beliefs and thoughts a patient has, rather than a patient’s actions. Because job-related stress is frequently caused by perception, some of the strategies utilized in CBT therapy may help individuals who are dealing with job-related stress.

4 CBT-Inspired Strategies to Reduce Job-Related Stress

1. Prioritize

Stress levels begin to rise as our responsibilities increase throughout the workday. Make a list of the things you need to accomplish. Rate these tasks according to importance. Chances are that several tasks are crucial, while others are not very important. Now you can focus your attention on the crucial tasks; completing the unimportant tasks only after the crucial tasks have been addressed.

By taking the time to prioritize, you can clearly see the tasks that require immediate attention and which tasks can be addressed at your leisure; thus reducing your stress levels.

2. Create an Oasis

Whenever your attention wanders and you begin thinking stressful thoughts, Ghinassi recommends taking a break. Find a quiet place where you can perform calming non-physical exercises. These exercises may include positive imagery, deep breathing, and listening to soothing music.

3. Use Probability to Eliminate Negative Thoughts

Catastrophizing is a type of thought pattern that focuses on every possible mistake or slip up that can lead to a downfall. Besides causing stress, this kind of black-and-white thinking may cause you to have a sense of impending doom. Instead, Ghinassi suggests controlling these thoughts by weighing the likelihood – or probability – of something happening. Once you bring this technique into your regular patterns of thought, it can be a calming influence in eliminating worry about things that aren’t likely to manifest into actual problems.

4. The Cognitive Flip

If you feel as if you have lost control of a situation, you can try to curb stress levels by thinking about the things you can control. That doesn’t mean the things you can’t control won’t happen but by focusing on what you have the power to control, you are reminded that you can shape your own outcomes.

Having these behavior management tools at your disposal and knowing how to use them will help you manage stress, often before it becomes debilitating. If you are a manager, fostering some of these patterns in a general way can help your staff.

By addressing staff mental health issues, performance levels increase and a company or organization becomes a better place to work. A qualified leader in a company’s human resources department will encourage the use of these techniques by everyone in the company, when needed. They can be used to significantly improve the atmosphere and health of the work force.

Knowing methods like this to improve morale and productivity is just one small – but very effective – part of an advanced human resources education, such as a Master of Science in Human Resources Management. If you want to step up and do more for your company, look into the online master’s in human resources management offered by The University of Scranton.

What Exactly Should You Study for the CPA Exam?

While the process to become a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) takes a serious commitment of time and energy, many people find it is a path to a uniquely rewarding career. Candidates must show that they have the necessary education, and then prepare to sit for four separate exams. To have a chance of passing the tests, students are best served with a Master of Accountancy from an institution that will provide them with all the information and experience they need to be a high-level accountant or manager for almost any kind of organization. This guide shows students how to become a CPA, with a detailed discussion of CPA exam requirements and components.

Steps Required for Meeting CPA Requirements

There are many steps to the timeline for meeting CPA requirements, and the exam itself is only one part. First, students must complete the minimum education to sit the initial exam. The pass rate for the CPA exam is a score of 75 and candidates may need to sit each section more than once.

If educational requirements are already met, students will find their applications go through relatively quickly. They should only apply for exam sections when they expect to take the test within six months of application. Once the applications are approved, students may start to prepare for each individual exam by researching the covered topics thoroughly, with the use of study tools and exam review. The exams are completed, with retesting as necessary.

While candidates prepare for the exams, they should continue to work, or study in higher education as a means to complete the CPA certificate qualifications. With a fully completed CPA exam and eligibility for the certificate, candidates apply to their state’s board of accountancy to become a Certified Public Accountant.

Eligibility and Education

Eligibility to sit for the Uniform CPA Exam is based on a state’s individual prerequisites. Many states require that all candidates possess a minimum of 150 semester hours of education before they can receive a CPA certificate. This is based on the assumption that the knowledge of all subjects called for by a state’s board of accountancy goes too far beyond the baccalaureate level of knowledge. Candidates often find that the additional education of a master’s or higher degree makes a big difference.

Many states oblige candidates to have 24 semester hours of upper-division or graduate accounting education to sit for the exam. The certificate demands 48 semester hours of accounting and business-related education, of which only six can be tallied from internships or life experience. Most states also need candidates to have a year of work experience as an accountant, although paid internships usually count toward this requirement.

What to Study for the CPA Exam

           Once candidates have met the basic education CPA exam requirements, they must prepare for the actual exam. They should start by researching the concepts they will be expected to know. After all, accountancy is a concept that is constantly changing.

The American Institute of CPAs, the governing body of the CPA exam, notes that any changes to federal law or the release of new accounting pronouncements will become applicable within the exam framework six months after the information is available. This means that students have to remain educated on current financial rules and accounting standards, because it is highly likely that they will be tested on it.

The AICPA also recognizes that many who pass the CPA exam will be required to meet International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS). They may need to know the standards to work in an international company, an American company that owns businesses abroad, or to audit entities with similar arrangements. As such, students should study both generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) and IFRS for each exam section.

Study Tools for the CPA Exam

Most candidates benefit from the use of study tools to help them meet the CPA exam requirements. The type a student will choose depends largely on the person’s knowledge base and learning styles; and using more than one is highly recommended.

There are several books on the market with review chapters and sample exams that candidates can use for practice. However, given the frequent changes to accounting standards and tax law, students should make sure that they are only accessing content that is newly updated. Even a study course from the previous year may have significant misinformation.

Candidates have access to online courses, video lecture series, books, and even classes to help them study and practice for the exam. Ultimately, experience is also a good preparation tool since the vast majority of those who sit for the exams will fail at least one, so they should use that experience to bolster their knowledge for the next round.

Exam Sections

The CPA exam consists of four separate parts, the sum of which have a maximum of 14 hours for testing. Auditing and Attestation, and Financial Accounting and Reporting, are up to four hours each. The remaining two, Regulation, and Business Environment and Concepts, can last up to three hours each.

The sections of the exam are typically taken separately, and contain five or six content areas. They are designed to represent a test for knowledge as well as the ability to accurately record information and communicate with hypothetical clients. Most jurisdictions expect candidates to pass all four sections within 18 months of the first passed exam.

  • Auditing and Attestation (AUD):This exam section covers an accountant’s ability to audit a financial situation. The candidate must show that he or she can plan the arrangement, examine internal controls, obtain and document all information, accurately review the engagement and the documentation, and prepare to communicate the results with a client.
  • Business Environment and Concepts (BEC): The BEC exam tests a candidate’s skill at applying general business concepts to specific scenarios. It requires a great deal of broad knowledge on different topics, including general economic concepts, financial management, the best way to use informational technology in accounting standards, business structure, as well as strategic planning and accurate measurement of all controls.
  • Financial Accounting and Reporting (FAR): This section comprises all the typical standards someone seeking a master’s degree in accountancy must know. Candidates must show that they understand financial statement concepts and standards, the typical items included in a financial statement, all the types of transactions and events, how government entities should report finances, plus accounting for nongovernmental institutions and nonprofit organizations.
  • Regulation (REG): REG covers all issues related to government and organizational regulation of a business or other entity’s actions and records. Specifically, candidates should expect this exam section to test them on their knowledge of business ethics, law, federal tax procedures, and taxation for property, businesses or individuals.

As a general rule, these exam sections may be taken in any order. Some students prefer to take what is perceived as the harder or longer sections first. The BEC test, as a more general assessment of a prospective accountant’s knowledge of business and corporate finance, has the highest overall passing rate.

CPA Test Format

Each of the exams is broken down into a number of pieces for candidates to complete. The pieces, called “testlets,” feature a combination of multiple-choice questions or test-based simulations. 

  • All four exams have three testlets with multiple-choice questions
  • AUD and FAR have one section with seven different simulations
  • REG has a section with six simulations
  • BEC offers a simulation with three communication-based tasks

Although the multiple-choice questions are all drawn from the same bank of questions provided by the Content Specifications Outline, they are delivered in random order throughout the testlet to minimize the incidence of cheating. Candidates should remember that the questions often demonstrate situations that are quite subjective. In this case, they should select the answer that is the most correct for the unique financial situation, from a selection of available answers that may all be technically correct.

Retesting and Certification

It is not uncommon for candidates to not pass on the first or even second try. The low pass rate of 45-55 percent means that students should expect to take the exam more than once, using the results of the prior exam as an effective study tool. In reports for past exams, candidates can see where they did well and what areas they need to work on before retesting.

If students do not pass a particular exam, they can retake the exam as soon as the next quarter. They do not need to pass one exam before they apply to take a different exam section. Those who sit for each exam should also keep deadlines in mind. Most states require that all exams be passed within 18 months, or else the first passed exam must be retaken. Additionally, some states pose a deadline between passing the CPA exam and applying for a CPA certificate. As such, students should have all paperwork ready to apply for certification soon after they pass the final exam.

The Master of Accountancy program at The University of Scranton will help prepare you for the CPA Test so that you could achieve your goals!

For more information on the Master of Accountancy program visit our website.

 

An MBA Is the New Bachelor’s Degree

Earning a bachelor’s degree is commendable, and increasingly important in the workplace. But those trying to stand out as an employee or job applicant should consider attaining an even higher level of education. Many employers want to see a master’s degree, and it may be in your financial interest to get one.

According to a Washington Post report, those with a master’s degree can expect to earn $457,000 more over the course of their career than those with just a bachelor’s degree. Also the number of jobs that require a master’s degree are projected to increase at a much higher rate than other jobs, through 2020.1

A master’s degree today is as prevalent as a bachelor’s degree was in the 1960s, according to Vox, which also said that a master’s degree in business administration is growing faster than other master level degrees.2 In 1971, 11.2% of all master’s degrees were in business. By 2012, that percentage more than doubled to 25.4%.

A Practical Degree

An MBA is useful in fields as diverse as accounting, healthcare, manufacturing, information systems, logistics, telecommunications, retail, finance and banking, law, consulting, pharmaceuticals, hospitality, insurance, and engineering. The degree is increasingly important in business today.

Today, with modern technology, it’s easier  than ever for aspiring students to get a quality MBA degree!

The MBA  is used as a screening tool by employers to find the most qualified candidates with the advanced education necessary for the job. Showing a willingness to invest time and money to get additional education signals to the hiring manager that the candidate is serious about their career.

The University of Scranton’s MBA program offers both  broad-based study in all aspects of business, or a focus in a specialized area such as accounting, operations management, healthcare management, human resources, international business or enterprise resource planning.

The Payoff

According to data from head hunter Career Bliss,3 those with master’s degrees usually earn more than those with bachelor’s degrees. For instance, a business manager earns on average 22% more with the advanced degree than with a bachelor’s degree.

For more information on how an MBA can help you, check out The University of Scranton’s MBA Program.

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Sources:

1http://www.washingtonpost.com/sf/brand-connect/wp/2014/03/14/overall-trends/
2http://www.vox.com/2014/5/20/5734816/masters-degrees-are-as-common-now-as-bachelors-degrees-were-in-the-60s
3http://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20110817006495/en/CareerBliss-Data-Reveals-Top-10-Jobs-Master%E2%80%99s

 

New Research and Technologies for DPT Students!

Professor Peter Leininger, Ph.D., of the Physical Therapy Department at The University of Scranton, said there are amazing new technologies in exercise science that are revolutionizing the field, shortening the time from surgery to full recovery.

Among the most exciting is blood flow restriction (BFR) therapy. Essentially, a tourniquet is wrapped around the upper or lower extremity, with controlled and monitored blood flow restriction to the muscles and joints of the knee, hip, ankle, shoulder, elbow or wrist, which greatly hastens the rehabilitation process.

Dr. Leininger, the only physical therapist in the Scranton area currently certified in BFR, explained that the method started in the military, then spread to professional sports and is now being used by major universities, clinics and hospitals to treat their injured athletes.

In January, Dr. Leininger and his students will present their BFR research (a systematic review) at the annual American Physical Therapy Association’s national conference in Washington, D.C.  They are also completing a second systematic review studying the effect of BFR training with the older adult population.

Several research studies are planned at the University utilizing the BFR Delphi unit (currently the only FDA approved blood flow restriction device). The BFR device is being used on campus with several patients following ACL reconstruction to their knees.

“What is clear is that light-load exercise with a tourniquet that is used properly is safe and effective,” said Dr. Leininger, whose department owns the aforementioned Delfi device.  “It’s a very good way to do light-weight resistance exercise where you don’t damage what was repaired, and recovery is demonstrably faster, decreasing the time necessary to develop increased muscle mass and strength of the injured or surgically repaired region of the body.”

He says this latest therapy modality is being used more widely following knee surgery, including anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction, as well as rotator cuff, hip and ankle surgical procedures.

University Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) graduate students who will be presenting their research at the upcoming conference in January are Matthew Aitken ’17, Edison, New Jersey; Omar Amer, Scotch Plains, New Jersey; Berta Carmo, Parsippany, New Jersey; Sophia DiCamillo ’17, Abington; Christine Kiefer ’17, Wantagh, New York; Dannylyn Manabat, Long Beach, California; and Jonathan Mayes, Dublin (PA).

Physical Therapy Professor Peter Leininger, Ph.D., demonstrates BFR therapy using the BFR Delphi unit and light-load exercise with a tourniquet with the help of DPT student Stephanie Klug, Mooresville, North Carolina. BFR therapy has been shown to greatly hasten the rehabilitation process. Dr. Leininger is currently the only physical therapist in the Scranton area certified in BFR.

Peter Leininger, Ph.D., assistant professor of physical therapy, demonstrates blood flow restriction (BFR) therapy using the BFR Delphi unit and light-load exercise with a tourniquet, which has been shown to greatly hasten the rehabilitation process. Dr. Leininger and his students will present their BFR research (a systematic review) at the annual American Physical Therapy Association’s national conference in Washington, D.C. in January. From left: Dr. Leininger and DPT graduate students Matthew Aitken ’17, Edison, New Jersey; Omar Amer, Scotch Plains, New Jersey; Stephanie Klug, Mooresville, North Carolina (demonstrating the therapy); Berta Carmo, Parsippany, New Jersey; Jonathan Mayes, Dublin (PA); Dannylyn Manabat, Long Beach, California; Christine Kiefer ’17, Wantagh, New York; and Sophia DiCamillo ’17, Abington.