What's better for a career changer, MBA in IS or MIS

Discussion in 'IT and Computer-Related Degrees' started by reyortiz, Aug 26, 2008.

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  1. reyortiz

    reyortiz New Member

    I've been a nurse for about 6 years and am looking to change careers. What would be more advantageous for someone trying to change fields into IS: an MBA in IS from University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, or an MIS from University of Illinois at Springfield?

    As far as the degrees are concerned, both are AACSB accredited. However, I have zero experience and no certifications whatsoever.

    On one hand, it seems that the MIS from UIS would prepare me better technically, thus increasing the likelyhood of landing a job in my targeted field of IS, but would it limit my upward mobility? I don't know much about MIS grads, but I've heard that some MIS grads just work at help desks. Not my cup of tea.

    On the other hand, the MBA in IS would open a broader range of doors, and I'd have more upward mobility, but would the IS concentration even be enough to go into IS?

    I'm totally new to the field so any input and advice would be greatly appreciated.
     
  2. Anthony Pina

    Anthony Pina Active Member

    University of Illinois-Springfield was recently honored by the Sloan Consotium (Sloan-C) as the best institution-wide distance learning program in the U.S. Their programs are top notch. U. of Colorado is nothing to sneeze at either, so you are picking from two very good schools--it is hard to go wrong here.

    I have been on the hiring board for IT professionals at a couple of higher education institutions. If you have some good experience and demonstrable knowledge, then the title of the degree (MS versus MBA) will not make any difference, especially if it is from one of these two schools.

    My personal choice would be Springfield, because I am most familiar with the quality of their online programs. Their Office of Technology-Enhanced Learning is first rate, with some of the top professionals in the distance learning field. The MS in MIS was the first of their 17 online degrees to be developed.
     
  3. silversurfer

    silversurfer New Member

    Have you reviewed the coursework in the MIS degree? I noticed they had a class in data warehousing. I took a class in that which involved DBA-level hands-on database design and maintenance. It was, for me with 8 years of IT experience, a difficult class. I'd say look at all the classes in detail to decide what is best for your skill level and career interest.
     
  4. BlueMason

    BlueMason Audaces fortuna juvat

    ...how did you come to pick that field? From nursing to IS is a drastic change. "I have zero experience and no certifications whatsoever" You may want to get some certs and get some experience.. a Masters alone is not going to get you places.
    Do you have an undergrad? If so, what? Have you considered getting another BS in CS or MIS to build that experience rather than jumping into a Masters degree and an entirely new field?
     
  5. reyortiz

    reyortiz New Member

    Thanks for the responses. I was simply looking for advice on what type of doors each degree would open, but I'll happily answer any questions and address any comments.

    Have you reviewed the coursework in the MIS degree?
    Have you considered getting another BS in CS or MIS to build that experience rather than jumping into a Masters degree and an entirely new field?

    Like I said, I have no prior experience in MIS or IT. The MIS program at UIS is highly successful and does not require a background in MIS. UIS assures applicants that "You would be just one of many students with no prior background in MIS. The prerequisites and initial graduate courses are carefully designed to get you up to speed in a short period of time. Regional and national companies have aggressively recruited students like you who have graduated from the program. Because of the excellent reputation of our program (thanks to previous students like you who have worked you so well), we enjoy a 100% placement rate."

    ...how did you come to pick that field?
    I have an AS in Nursing, a BS in Chemistry and 2 years of Medicine. Nursing is a job that pays the bills. It was never my intended career. I came to pick the field of business, not necessarily IS, as a way of advancing my career without limiting myself to Nursing. My first choice for a Masters is an MBA with an possible concentration in IS. The MSMIS option came up when I was researching AACSB accredited schools and I found the UIS MIS program on GetEducated.com's Best Graduate Business Schools list. Now its not like I expect a Masters degree to entitle me to a CIO position. I fully expect to pay my dues like any new graduate. That said, upon graduation with a Masters, I would have no less experience than, say, a fresh graduate from a BS MIS program. I do however, expect a Masters (MBA/IS or MSMIS) to get my foot in the door. Certs and experience can follow.

    From nursing to IS is a drastic change.
    It may appear that way at the outset, but IS is so pervasive these days that it is not so unrelated from nursing as you would think. In my current organization IT/IS is being leveraged to improve operational efficiency and thus improve patient care. In the coming months, we'll be starting up a system called EPIC that provides an Electronic Medical Record with integrated billing. We think this is a big step towards true integration beyond interfacing.

    You may want to get some certs and get some experience.. a Masters alone is not going to get you places.
    Are you advising me to get certs and experience when I don't have any training in IS at all? I'm not sure I understand how I would go about doing that. I realize the importance of certs and experience in the technical world, but in the business world, the ability to apply knowledge to find solutions to business problems is arguably more important. An AACSB-accredited Masters degree would empower me with that. Certs and experience alone aren't going to get you places.

    I'm fully expected that as a nurse with no IT/IS experience, there would doubts about my technical or quantitative aptitude. However, my BS in Chemsitry and fair score of 690 on the GMAT were enough to demonstrate my aptitude to the Admissions Committees of both schools. I've been accepted to UCCS and am awaiting a decision with UIS. Also take note that I'm not pursuing a MS CS. I'm looking to strike a balance between technical and business/organizational knowledge.

    I appreciate the advice so far and I'm still pretty indecisive at this point. Can anyone else offer any additional insights on the possible career ladders each degree would offer?
     
  6. There are usually two paths to becoming CIO these days. One is through years of technical expertise, including software development and operations. However, the "ultra techie" CIO is becoming less and less common. More often than not you'll find these CIOs under the CFO.

    The second path, which is becoming more prevalent, is the business-oriented CIO. They have a technology background and/or education, but realize that technology is only there to support business objectives, and therefore they're much more focused on the financials than ever before. These CIOs can hold their own in board meetings and often report directly to the CEO.

    If you wanted to enter IT in a health care organization your nursing experience would serve you well, and it's a reasonable transition to leverage the experience that you DO have. You know all about patient care, billing and medical records systems, etc.

    A very silly question - what convinced you to pursue a career in information systems? The answer may help others with giving you advice.

    Silly question #2 - is your plan to eventually enter management, or to be "hands-on"? When it comes time to "pay your dues" this is an important thought to keep in mind and will help you pick the job that you want. If you have supervisory experience this is also helpful. Certs are more useful if you want to be hands-on, rather than managing or assisting the process (project/program management, end-user training, etc).

    One final comment, as I often interact with doctors, nurses and other staff in hospitals (plus their IT staff): Your experience as a USER of technology, while important (even if you're a beta tester of new technology being rolled out), helps you empathize with end-users, but you're still very much abstracted from what the IT/IS staff do. My suggestion, before you enroll in a program, is to talk to your friendly IS Director (or equivalent), mention your career aspirations, and see if you can spend "a day in the life" following around a couple of people. You may be interested, shocked, repelled or some combination of the three! A lot of people have the impression that nursing is glamorous - just as others have the impression that IT is. It can be at times, but is often not at all.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 27, 2008
  7. reyortiz

    reyortiz New Member

    what convinced you to pursue a career in information systems?
    Not a silly question at all since it's going to further expose my naivety! For one thing, what convinced me were the results of several career surveys I've taken over the years. I realize how limited and superficial this career search methodology is, but they consistently listed MIS/IS occupations to be most suited for me. Also, although I only took a few, I always excelled at the computer science courses I took. I simply never pursued the CS track simply because I was focused on becoming an MD at the time. While I admit that other occupations would provide a more linear career path (i.e. Healthcare Administration), for those reasons a career in MIS might provide a better fit. The other thing that convinced me that MIS/IS is projected to have have faster job growth and better job prospects (according to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics) compared to Healthcare Management, Financial Mananagement, and other comparable occupations open to MBAs.

    is your plan to eventually enter management, or to be "hands-on"?
    I'd like to enter management eventually. The desire to progress out of my current "hands-on" role as a nurse was one of the motivating factors to apply to MBA schools.

    IT Management in a healthcare organization, as you mentioned, might really fit the bill. Suggesting that I try shadowing an IS Director has been the best advice I've received so far.
     
  8. StevenKing

    StevenKing Member

    Nursing to IT...

    I chose dual concentrations in an MBA for similar reasons. Information Tech Management and Healthcare Management through Touro.
     
  9. reyortiz

    reyortiz New Member

    I've considered a dual concentration like that with UCCS. Did you find the degree helpful in your career path?
     
  10. dlcurious

    dlcurious Member

    The organization I work for has already started implementing EPIC and most of the application support positions went to former / present clinical workers who understand the patient workflow. This could a lucrative move for you if you can make it...
     
  11. sentinel

    sentinel New Member

    I would recommend a graduate degree that includes both health care management and information technology if at all possible. This would leverage your existing credentials and experience as well as prepare you for the information technology side of health care. Alternatively, a standard MBA plus a graduate certificate in health care information technology. A pure information technology or information technology degree is not an optimal route in your situation since you stated you would prefer the management aspects rather than day-to-day hands-on tasks.

    As an aside, have you considered becoming a nursing teacher?
     
  12. reyortiz

    reyortiz New Member

    The organization I work for has already started implementing EPIC and most of the application support positions went to former / present clinical workers who understand the patient workflow. This could a lucrative move for you if you can make it...

    I recently passed up internship opportunity for EPIC Support Training. Although the position would've addressed my "zero experience" issue, I'll be returning to school soon so I didn't want to commit to it. Without a doubt, the position could've provided me with invaluable insight on whether I intrinsically want to pursue a career in IT. I honestly didn't look into it enough see if they would take anyone without IT experience in the first place. In any case, I hope I didn't pass up a golden opportunity.

    I would recommend a graduate degree that includes both health care management and information technology if at all possible. This would leverage your existing credentials and experience as well as prepare you for the information technology side of health care. Alternatively, a standard MBA plus a graduate certificate in health care information technology.
    I appreciate the advice, sentinel. And I agree, given my background, the degrees you suggest appear to be the most marketable and relevant.

    As an aside, have you considered becoming a nursing teacher?
    I'm flattered that anyone would suggest that I become a Nurse Educator! I certainly would love to be in a position where my efforts could exponentially contribute to the community (if I taught a hundred nurses, five of them would go on to teach a hundred nurses themselves, those five, and so on). However, a brief experience in Cambodia teaching English taught me how just how difficult teaching is. Teaching a simple subject like elementary English, something I thought I knew enough to teach on a basic level, was one of the most challenging things I've ever had to do! Teachers and educators are truly underappreciated.


    Thank you for all the great advice, everyone! I think the MIS program at UIS at this point is losing ground. In addition to applying to the online MBA program at University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, I applied to the campus-based program here in Hawaii at the University if Hawaii at Manoa. Both are AACSB accredited, but UHM doesn't offer any concentrations, just Information Technology Management electives. UHM does have the advantage of being a campus-based program.
     
  13. lurker

    lurker New Member

    This is very possible and as a healthcare admin, what I'd recommend with your nursing experience...MHA w/IT
     
  14. StevenKing

    StevenKing Member

    Helpful?

    Somewhat...I decided to steer away from healthcare to education. It never hurt...we'll see in a few years (probably undertaking EdD studies next year...) how helpful it was.
     
  15. bing

    bing New Member

    More on IT

    http://vollman.blogspot.com/2007/06/dont-go-into-it.html

    This blog sort of sums up a lot of what IT is about these days.

    Where I work, management sees IT as an important function but something to outsource for ever cheaper wages. You can just about always find a Tata, Infosys, or Wipro H-1B, or F1(yes even an F1 student with an "internship"), able to do it cheaper than an American. That doesn't say much about the quality of their work, though. However, that quality is often good enough for many companies.

    I am not sure that IT is much different than other fields these days. Even accounting is being outsourced to India. One thing, technology is tough to keep up on in IT. Staying employed, with a good wage, is a goal for many IT people and keeping up in the field seems about as bad a keeping up in medicine...sans the high wages.

    I saw a job for a configuration manager that went for $90K/year about 3 years ago, at a large insurance company, going for $29/hr today..1099 contract. That's a telling tale and some serious wage adjustment. Others on the forum here might have a different "mileage" to report. Take all of the experiences in and make your decision. While the thread was mainly about the degree type, it's important to see the field and what lay ahead for potential practitioners.

    For me, I am seriously investigating going back into engineering. I worked as an engineer for 5 years at one point in my life and seemed it was a more fun that what I am doing in IT these days. Of course, it could have a lot to do with the company I am with. Smaller companies may offer more fun environments...but likely expect to work many more hours. I work for a large fortune 500 company that is often ranked in the top 100 best places to work.

    bing
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 29, 2008
  16. AdAstra

    AdAstra Member

    I could not agree more with bing. Read his blog on the joys of IT these days; I cannot see an improvement in the future. I too have moved into engineering, an am loving every moment of it.

    Proceed into IT with caution and fully informed decisions.
     
  17. reyortiz

    reyortiz New Member

    Scary stuff. I appreciate the warnings. I just wonder why the Bureau of Labor and Statistics paints such a different picture.
     
  18. Abner

    Abner Well-Known Member

    Outsourcing is a huge problem. I hope with a new administration, we can start rewarding companies that keep American jobs here, and not give our taxpayers dollars to companies that outsource.

    Good advice Bing,

    Abner
     
  19. me again

    me again Well-Known Member

    It would be GREAT to be able to agree with you, but if you want to look at the future, then simply look at the past: the United States has had a long-term trend of outsourcing anything that can be done at a cheaper cost. The global economy is going to cause a deflation in the unrealistic (but expected) American standard-of-living over the next few years. So who will be the winners in globalized industrialization and American outsourcing? Short-term winners will be American CEOs and American stockholders; but who will the long-term winners be?
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 31, 2008
  20. sentinel

    sentinel New Member

    I am currently involved with an outsourcing initiative by a major Wall Street investment bank and even the global outsourced partnerships are being closely reviewed to determine whether the work can be transferred to even lower cost global locations. In my opinion, part of the problem with outsourcing is the race to the bottom in terms of labour costs. While I am a net beneficiary of outsourcing, at the present time, the local management style hearkens to Dickens' era. We have even been admonished, by local management, for identifying more with our client and their interests than with our own firm. Adopting a utilitarian philosophy towards the workplace with respect to transferable skills, knowledge and experience is the only way to survive in the hopes of managing one's career.
     

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