April Insco, PhD, RHIA, CHDA, CPHI, CCS, has the distinction of being the first graduate student of the UTHSC Institute for Health Outcomes and Policy (IHOP) program with a concentration in health informatics.
“Getting a doctorate is a major achievement in itself, but being first in this concentration makes me even prouder to have completed it,” she said.
The IHOP program is a collaboration between the College of Graduate Health Sciences and the College of Health Professions Department of Health Informatics and Information Management (HIIM). The interdisciplinary degree focuses on developing highly skilled professionals focused on improving the efficiency, quality, and safety of today’s healthcare systems through data management. Graduates of the program are prepared to become researchers, scholars, teachers, thinkers, and planners in the demanding and changing field of health informatics and information management.
Dr. Insco received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the College of Health Professions’ HIIM program in 2011 and 2015. “In 2017, when UTHSC added a health informatics track to the IHOP curriculum, it seemed like the way ideal to complete my school career. ,” she says.
Although Dr. Insco is proud of her accomplishments, achieving them has not been easy. “Honestly, there were many times throughout the program where I wasn’t convinced that I would be able to finish,” she said.
Balancing a full-time career, professional association duties, family, and schoolwork, at times left her feeling “very overwhelmed,” she said. Her determination, friends and family helped her succeed.
“Having a good friend in the program with you, a good counselor and a supportive family helped me overcome this challenge,” she said. “Words of continued encouragement and support over the past five years gave me what I needed to move forward and complete the program and my thesis.”
The IHOP Health Informatics Concentration is an online program. Additionally, the pandemic has canceled events that would have taken place in person, such as graduate research seminars, reducing opportunities to connect with colleagues face-to-face.
However, even these challenges did not prevent Dr. Insco from cultivating strong relationships in the program with fellow students and faculty. “Before the pandemic, I was able to attend the Graduate Research Day and was able to meet another student in the program and see how students further along in their programs presented their work.” Dr. Insco has also participated in webinars. “I enjoyed the seminar course because it gave me the opportunity to present to the class each week, which I think was very helpful in preparing me to present my oral defense,” a- she declared.
While in the IHOP program, Dr. Insco became president-elect of the Tennessee Health Information Management Association (THIMA) and served as president of the state health information management association. “I am particularly proud of this achievement,” she said.
Dr. Insco is an Associate Professor in the Associate Level HIM Program at Roane State Community College. Since obtaining her doctorate, Dr. Insco now aims to be promoted to full professor. She also collaborates with her academic advisor, Rebecca Reynolds, EdD, RHIA, FAHIMA, to get her research articles published.
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