Guest Blog From Amanda Holliday
My mother, or “Mama” as we say here in the south, is a computer programmer. She is a guru at how to take data and make it usable or “minable.” In my mind, she was one of the first informaticists. Therefore, I grew up hearing and thinking about how I could use computers to streamline my daily work and life. Whether it was science projects, club events or keeping track of all the reasons my parents should buy me a dog…I was using computers for data management.
Fast forward 30+ years and I am a Program Director of a Coordinated Master’s Program. In the role of Program Director, I teach, coordinate and manage internship placements and keep up with all those data points for student outcomes/standards. Those outcomes are done for each and every student for many, many learning activities. Whew! Many times I feel overwhelmed with not only keeping track of all those evaluation forms but trying to keep track up with 5 years worth of data points (for 24 students!).
Recently, after a day of being overwhelmed with stacks of evaluation forms, I found myself reflecting on Mama’s good training. I was dreaming of a program that would electronically manage the preceptor and student evaluations, program deliverables and generate usable reports for the CADE (Commission on Accreditation for Dietetics Education) student outcomes. I wanted a way to spend more time with my students and analyzing my data instead of so much time keeping track of “tick marks.” So I went to work… six months later I was putting the finishing touches on an online data management program for program directors. Now, real-time, I can check to see how an individual student or a group of students are being evaluated. I can run reports on how the program is meeting each learning outcome AND provide real-time responses and management.
We all must take the opportunity to reflect on how to become a better informaticist. It is our chance to streamline our workload and become more efficient. Of course, in my case, listening to your mother also doesn’t hurt. Have a great week!
Amanda S. Holliday MS, RD, LDN
Clinical Assistant Professor and Program Director
Chapel Hill, NC