Craig Dunnells exchanged a career working on Wall Street and in sales to pursue a career in healthcare, taking the M.S. in Healthcare Informatics program.

by Cecil Harris

“Healthcare and information technology is a combination that gives you plenty of job opportunities. Look at the earnings potential.”—Craig Dunnells

After years of working on Wall Street and in sales for an audio-video company, Craig Dunnells decided to pursue a career offering more stability and growth.

With a background in finance and information technology, Mr. Dunnells researched his options and enrolled in the Master of Science and Advanced Certificate in Healthcare Informatics programs at Adelphi University.

“I didn’t see another program like this anywhere on Long Island,” said Mr. Dunnells, who lives in East Northport, New York. “Higher education is a great decision to begin with. And healthcare and information technology is a combination that gives you plenty of job opportunities. Look at the earnings potential. For someone with a master’s degree in healthcare informatics, $90,000 is the median salary, so there’s obviously a financial incentive.”

The healthcare informatics programs began in 2012 and are offered through Adelphi’s College of Nursing and Public Health. The M.S. and advanced certificate programs are helping to meet the increasing demand for well-trained professionals in this fast-growing field.

“Craig is a top performer and very goal-driven; he and I spoke several times during his application process to ensure the healthcare informatics program met his goals,” said Thomas Virgona, Ph.D., assistant professor and director of the Master of Science and Advanced Certificate in Healthcare Informatics degree programs.

The master’s degree, which can be completed in three years, consists of 42 credits and combines classes in nursing, management, technology and business, culminating in a capstone research course. The advanced certificate totals 21 credits and covers technology-related classes only. It can be earned in two years by taking two evening courses per semester and one course each summer. Credits earned in the advanced certificate program can be used toward the master’s degree.

Adelphi created its healthcare informatics degree and certificate programs with working adults, like Mr. Dunnells, in mind.

“I’m enjoying the management information systems classes and the information management classes, and I’m looking forward to the computer classes,” he said. “The hybrid classes [traditional and online] are a huge help for working adults. At 6:00 p.m., I’m logging on to my computer as if I were in an actual classroom. You have to be committed to it and disciplined with your time.”

Both of Adelphi’s healthcare informatics programs will prepare graduates for careers in health and medical information services in an academic, healthcare or industrial setting, where a working knowledge of healthcare data is required.

In 2004, President George W. Bush called for completely paperless, electronic health records nationwide by 2014. And as President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act is being implemented, healthcare providers have a greater need to make their business and services more cost-efficient.

Mr. Dunnells has seen the need for change in the healthcare information industry firsthand while caring for his mother, who suffers from Alzheimer’s disease.

“I was frustrated that there was no central repository that keeps information on patients,” he said. “I found myself filling out the same forms again and again. That’s not only inefficient, but also bad for the patients. What if I can’t remember the name of one of the medications she’s taking?”

Mr. Dunnells, who has worked for Paine Webber, Standard & Poor’s and a company jointly owned by Dow Jones and Reuters, began his third semester at Adelphi in Fall 2013. He’s pleased with his decision to pursue the M.S. and advanced certificate, particularly after learning that a lack of clinical experience would not be a deterrent.

“Craig is an example of how Adelphi best serves adults who are transitioning in their careers,” Dr. Virgona said. “His lack of clinical experience will be addressed during his fieldwork course and as he utilizes the vast Adelphi nursing alumni network.”

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