Advice needed! Master's of Counseling vs. career change to Healthcare Informatics

Discussion in 'Nursing and medical-related degrees' started by Mighty_Tiki, Sep 28, 2012.

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  1. Mighty_Tiki

    Mighty_Tiki Member

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    Hello Everyone,

    I’ve been a member here at DegreeInfo for quite some time and visit everyday although I do not post very much. I used much of the information here to finish a bachelor’s from Excelsior in psychology and criminal justice and most of an MBA from APUS. I have never really asked for advice like this but I am finding myself in a life/career quandary. A little history on myself – I’m 34 years old and currently looking for work, but don’t know what to look for. My past work experience included working in retail as an IT / Operations manager for a few years and then changing fields and going into human services where I have worked as a program supervisor for behaviorally reactive / developmentally disabled / court involved adolescents. I have done this type of job for the last decade and find myself burnt out due to the high stress levels. I enjoy the environment when it is a well run program, however those seem to be few and far between lately. This has me contemplating several options at this point in my life.

    I know I cannot continue as a frontline supervisor in human services at this point, but one option I have is pursuing a master’s in Counseling from either Adams State University in Colorado or the University of Louisiana – Monroe. Both are CACREP accredited and both can be done wholly online with the exception of the two – 1 week summer residencies at Adams State. They both also offer a concentration in either clinical mental health or school counseling which I may also be interested in. The con to this is they are both 60 credit master’s and to get licensed you have to due the prerequisite post master’s 3000 hour practicum for the LPC / LMHC. This means by the time I get licensed it will take me approximately 5 – 6 years. Another con to this is the problem with finding a supervisor for your practicum hours. My wife and I are moving from Massachusetts to New Mexico in approximately a year and a half for health reasons. I would not have the same established supervisory contacts there as I do here in Massachusetts. Also, due to her finishing a master’s in Occupational Therapy during this time, she will also not be able to work for around a year so she can get her clinical hours in. This means we will be dependent on my income so it will be tough to get practicum hours in for myself during this time.

    Another option I was thinking of exploring was trying to break into the field of healthcare informatics via the master’s degree program that National University offers. I like the idea of 4 week classes as it makes the degree obtainable within a year or close to it. This will provide me with an opportunity to change fields and gain at least some experience before we move to New Mexico. I am wholly unsure of this however as even though I am good with computers – know how to do general hardware repairs / OS installs / light networking – I am by no means a computer scientist. I did do a lot with computers in the IT coordinator job I previously held – but that was 10 years ago now. I know with healthcare informatics they tend to also look for people who have clinical / coding experience. I have some clinical experience as the last adolescent program I worked for was part of UMass Medical School and was set in a hospital environment. We were always interacting with MDs and nurses – both practitioners and regular RNs.

    I guess what I am asking is that those of you who have experience in the informatics field, and I know there are a few of you here, how did you break into the field and what is a good way to get started? I am not sure I can devote another 5 – 6 years of my life to a master’s in counseling. My other goal would be to take whatever master’s I decide on and eventually apply to a doctorate program either in health sciences or healthcare administration and use this for some adjunct work if I can (I know everyone wants to do this!!) . Thanks in advance for the advice guys, I appreciate it!

    ULM Masters in Clinical Mental Health Counseling
    Adams State Counselor Ed
    National University Master of Health Informatics

    Justin
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 28, 2012
  2. DxD=D^2

    DxD=D^2 New Member

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    In his heart, a man plans his course, but the LORD
    I cannot really offer you much advice. However, what I would say is to take some assessments that will help you shift to the right career which fits your desired needs and personality. This might help you decide whether it's counseling or healthcare.
     
  3. Kizmet

    Kizmet Moderator

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    Based on friends experiences:

    The informatics job is a real thing. Everybody in the world is going for electronic medical records so that they can extract data for reporting purposes. Also, I'm told that within those organizations your street cred (do people still use that term?) is enhanced by a human services degree (license not necessary). Best of luck.
     
  4. Mighty_Tiki

    Mighty_Tiki Member

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    Thanks for the replies so far D & Kizmet, I appreciate your suggestions and well wishes!
     
  5. dlcurious

    dlcurious New Member

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    I currently work in HI and can tell you that people of all healthcare backgrounds are needed, not just the clinical MD / nurse types, though from my experience they tend to make the best ones. I had a straight IT background though in a healthcare environment, and that's how I got my foot in. Informatics can be especially rewarding, especially if you have significant experience already, but to be honest, I wonder about the glut of trained professionals on the market once most major healthcare providers have implemented their system of choice and all that's left are maintenance duties. While trying to build experience doing this I am also only pursuing credentials that are relevant to multiple fields, ie, the MBA, IT and PM certs, etc. That may be something to keep in mind...
     
  6. Mighty_Tiki

    Mighty_Tiki Member

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    Thank you dlcurious, this is very good insight into the possible future outcomes of a glut in the profession, definitely food for thought! I appreciate the facts from someone directly involved in the field. The idea was to get into something which I could work into a career change but at this point I'd have pretty strong competition for even an entry level position with the way the economy is and my lack of experience. I think my plan is going to be to finish my MBA out, get into program management, and do the counseling masters on the side so I can move to the clinical side of things. It will definitely take me some time but I believe it will be worth the effort. Thanks all for the input!
     

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