“I’m a little bit of an overachiever,” confesses Rebecca Algren when recounting the 40 or so hours per week she studied when she began Northwestern University School of Professional Studies’s (SPS) Master of Science in Medical Informatics (MMI) online program in January 2014. Algren took two classes that quarter while working full time as director of analytics at MediSync, a Cincinnati company that supports the management of medical groups. “It’s an old saying, but it’s true: you get as much value out something as you put into it,” she says.
A 2004 cum laude graduate of the University of Notre Dame, Algren is used to hard work. The premed and psychology major was considering medical school but wanted to be “100 percent sure” before making that decision, so she took a job as a data analyst at the clinical research organization Medpace and found herself well suited to the work. “I’ve always been good at math,” says Algren, “and applying math to the medical field combined both my interests.” From Medpace she moved to EyeMed Vision Care as a financial analyst and then onto MediSync in 2011. By that time Algren was well versed in medical informatics, but she wanted to study the field systematically and applied to Northwestern.
Favorite classes have included Introduction to Clinical Thinking, taught by MMI faculty director David Liebovitz, and American Health Care System, taught by Andy Chang. “I probably worked the hardest in that class, but I learned the most,” says Algren. A class on decision support systems gave her information she was able to apply immediately at MediSync.
“I was promoted even before completing my degree because they liked my initiative,” says Algren. “What I’ve learned from SPS has been very evident on the job. A topic will come up, and I’ll say, ‘I just read an article about that yesterday.’ I picked a program that fits my job description exactly.”
As much time as Algren has put into her studies, she believes the program is saving her time. “I never would have come across much of the information on my own, or if I had, it would have taken me much longer to do the research. The MMI gives me the information I need in condensed form. It’s helped me to know what’s out there to help physicians leverage the data they have.”