Using Technology to Improve Health Care
Executive MPH Program, Applied Public Health Informatics Track, MPH ‘19
“It is one thing to read about how to interpret complex business needs into a realistic solution. It is a whole other skillset that enables us to be able to do it in the real world. Rollins provides that training.”
When she discovered the Executive MPH program at Rollins, Samantha Banark was at a point in her career where she had the aptitude and desire to continue growing in the health care IT space, but didn’t have a degree or formal education to back it. Samantha found the Applied Public Health Informatics Track to be the perfect fit for the skills she wanted with its mixture of technical, public health, and program management training.
"I was not only interested in attending Rollins because of their reputation and caliber of students and faculty, but also because of the Applied Public Health Informatics Track’s focus on the application of concepts," she says. "It is one thing to read about how to interpret complex business needs into a realistic solution. It is a whole other skillset that enables us to be able to do it in the real world. Rollins provides that training."
As someone who understands and has had to personally untangle the complex information security and privacy regulations in the private business sector, Samantha found classes were directly applicable to her day job. "Trying to dissect HIPAA, HITECH, and privacy regulations on your own can be incredibly overwhelming. I wish that I had started this program three years ago when I found myself trying to untangle this. The information security class alone made this program worth it," she says.
Through her applied practice experience, she was able to design an enterprise-level, HIPAA-compliant information security program framework for her employer. "At the time, my company had the basics of an information security framework. They sought my assistance to build and expand the program to have a compliant, sustainable framework that could support its high growth rate. In partnership with the chief information security officer, I presented the business proposal and budget to the CEO and chief operating officer. Our proposal was approved on the first try."
On top of classroom and applied experiences, Samantha values the relationships she’s made with faculty and members of her cohort—many of which she forged during on-campus weekends.
"Both the diversity and the experience level of my cohort is fantastic," she says. "We have students from all over the country and [employed at] places like Cigna, Emory, and the CDC. They’ve all got different backgrounds, which really comes in handy when you do group work. The diversity echoes what informatics is all about, working collaboratively on cross-functional teams to come up with solutions that solve the problems we face in health care today."