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Transfer Spotlight: Taylor Winge Hernandez & Cindy H. Lin

The University of Washington School of Public Health (SPH) has undergraduate majors in Public Health, Environmental Health and Health Informatics and Health Information Management (HIHIM). In each program students are engaging in experiential learning as part of their undergraduate experience. Below are profiles of students who transferred to the University of Washington to complete their bachelor’s degree in Public Health and HIHIM, how they engaged with experiential learning, and the overall impact these experiences have had on them at different levels. Public Health Majors engage in a two-quarter long Capstone experience, which places them at a community organization in collaboration with the UW Carlson Leadership & Public Service Center. HIHIM students often start or have started work in their field as they finish the program and are able to apply what they are learning in the classroom directly to their positions.

Student: Taylor Winge Hernandez
Degree Pursuing: Bachelor of Arts Public Health
Previous school/s before UW: South Seattle Community College

Can you tell us a bit about your current Senior Capstone placement?

Currently I am a walk leader for Sound Steps, and this is a Lifelong Recreation Program that was created by Seattle Parks and Recreation. 

I love my placement because I get to walk with adults age 50 and older and assist in training for either a 10k or half marathon. This is an important program because it creates a community that promotes health, wellness, and social interaction that can significantly improve quality of life for older adults and the volunteers. I am located at the South Sound location at Jefferson Community Center and Rainer Community Center. Walking in these locations has been beneficial for me because I have gotten the chance to get out in communities I haven't been to before and see what they have done to improve public health and community infrastructure like parks and safe sidewalks and what still needs to be done to make these communities safer, more accessible, and enjoyable for those living there. This program has taught me to respect and appreciate all that the walkers have to offer, and to dismiss my prior opinions about these communities because these areas really have a lot to offer to the community. 

How has what you’ve learned in the classroom supported your learning in the community and vice versa?

In the classroom Deb Hinchey [Capstone Lecturer and coordinator] has been amazing at providing tools for us to use in our communities so we can get the most out of it. One thing she taught us that has stuck with me is the difference between helping, fixing, and serving and the pros and cons of each approach when addressing our populations at our sites. At my site I need to use a serving approach because I want to serve the community and have as little bias as possible and not come into a community with an opinion or ideas that may be offensive to those that thrive in their communities. In my community, I have learned a valuable lesson that older adults are not necessarily vulnerable like society makes them out to be. They are wise, they have had many life experiences that are useful to learn about, and they are awesome resources to collaborate with! 

What one piece of advice would you give to an incoming transfer student regarding how to gain the most from the Capstone experience in the Public Health Major? 

I would advise incoming transfer students to pick a site that aligns with their core values and interests in public health. While some of these sites may help you get a job post grad or look good on a resume, that isn't necessarily the point of this class. I chose Sound Steps because I am an active individual that is passionate about the betterment of quality of life among individuals in our communities. I also thought that Sound Steps would be a great opportunity to work with a population that I haven't before. 

Also, transfer students, go to lecture and quiz section, I know you may have senioritis or just want to sleep, but going to lectures and quiz sections helps you work with your community better and identify changes that should be made in the communities. If I didn't go to lectures or quiz I honestly wouldn't have understood what the goal of capstone was. I am glad I put effort into this class because it addresses important obstacles public health advocates like each and every one of us goes through at our sites and in our future professional work. 

Student: Cindy H. Lin
Degree: Bachelor of Science in Health Informatics and Health Information Management
Previous school/s before UW: Georgia Institute of Technology

Can you tell us a bit about your current work and or if applicable capstone project?

I am currently transitioning into a position as Health Information Specialist at Seattle Children’s Hospital. Just two weeks ago, I wrapped up the Back Scanning Project at Seattle Children’s Hospital as the project supervisor. I was hired in August 2016 as a medical record assistant on the team, not long after I started the HIHIM program at UW. After many transitions, I was offered the position as the supervisor of the project in January 2017. 

During the project, we were working on transferring legacy patient records into Seattle Children’s Electronic Health Record system. The patient medical information becomes available 24/7 for the providers and medical staff to provide higher quality and faster services. When the project was finished, the team transferred about 50,000 inches of charts into the system since the beginning of the project in December 2015. I think that’s a pretty amazing number!

How has what you’ve learned in the classroom supported your learning in the field / community and vice versa?

In the HIHIM program, there are many opportunities where you can gain real world experiences. We get to visit different healthcare facilities, work on assignments that are related to current healthcare issues, and most importantly, collaborate with real world clients to deliver solutions on the capstone project.

Working on the Back Scanning Team at Seattle Children’s Hospital was my first healthcare professional experience. I was able to understand more about work process and documentation better through the materials I have learned from school. And the knowledge and experience I have gained from work provide me more insights to share with my peers at school. During last quarter in one of the management courses, I was able to reflect on how I managed my team at work compared to the managerial techniques that were taught in class. I was continually looking for areas for improvement based on the knowledge taught in the class and the advices I received from my instructors and managers. I would say that was one of my greatest learning periods in my career, and I have grown so much from the experience. 

What one piece of advice would you give to an incoming transfer student regarding how to gain the most from the experiential learning component of HIHIM?

My advice to the incoming students would be: “Step out of your comfort zone and network!” Through networking, you gain many professional relationships that could potentially lead you to an internship or future employment for experiences in HIM field. Also, through each professional relationship, you get to learn more about different positions and explore different career paths. I was able to shadow with an analyst at work because I have professional connection that helps me with the opportunity! So, while you are working diligently on your school assignments and keeping up your grades, make sure to grasp every opportunity to build your professional network as diligently as well!