Health Informatics Alumna Profile: Sasha Ballen

Certificate in Healthcare Informatics '15, MS in Health Informatics '16 

What were your favorite experiences in the MS in Health Informatics program?

I really enjoyed my experiences with other students. I was worried that being an online student would be somewhat isolating, but most of my classes had group projects and I learned a lot from my peers. Since people were often in different time zones and had different responsibilities outside of the program, it was always interesting to find good technology solutions for working together. Video chats, conference calls, Google docs, Dropbox and Blackboard all came into play. The other students all had very interesting and diverse professional backgrounds too. I come from a specific space in the healthcare continuum and hadn’t always considered the perspectives of those who come from different areas in the healthcare world.

How was your experience at Drexel as an online student?

There were definitely big perks to being an online student because I have young kids and a full-time job. If not for the flexibility of the online program, I doubt I could have completed my master’s. The program is largely asynchronous, so I was able to schedule time to work as it fit into my life. Some weeks were crazy, but I could always do what I needed to do for school. Although I often wasn’t communicating with my professor and peers in real time, I still felt like I was developing meaningful relationships. The class sizes were small and the syllabi were designed to encourage thoughtful communication between us students and professor. I occasionally missed being in a classroom with others, but the practical benefits of being able to schedule my classwork was incredibly helpful.

Why did you decide to pursue a master’s in health informatics?

I chose the field of health informatics because it provided me with a very useful multi-disciplinary perspective on the world of US healthcare. Prior to starting my master’s at Drexel, my career had been a combination of technology and business consulting for smaller healthcare organizations. The informatics program tied these two perspectives together in a very functional and helpful way and broadened my viewpoint of the varied and complex landscape of healthcare in this country.

How did the degree assist you in your career?

I am responsible for technology and analytics in a healthcare organization. The range of skills required to do this is pretty daunting, but my degree has provided me with a lot of skills I need. My work spans from GIS and mapping to database administration to clinical workflow design. I am able to draw on specific skills learned at Drexel to do these tasks. From Drexel, I also gained a broader understanding about the goals, potential and shortcomings of health information technology, which I keep in mind when designing and implementing solutions at work.

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