Instructor Spotlight: Tom Witmer
Tom Witmer, M.S., is the the Chief Data Officer at Medical University of South Carolina. He has been working in health care for more than 25 years, including as an executive leader of the shared services analytics infrastructure group at Kaiser Permanente. He teaches Data Mining for Analytics in the Healthcare Analytics Certificate Program.
What drives your passion for Healthcare Analytics?
I love to see math and science applied to business, but really to people. There is no greater calling than to improve or restore people’s health. That is what healthcare analytics can achieve!
Why is Healthcare Analytics important?
People I’ve run across in health care are incredibly passionate about their work, super smart and dedicated. Keeping a data-driven aspect front and center to our work steers this passion in the right direction.
What do you enjoy most about teaching?
The engagement with students while they put in the hard work of learning. I try to play my role, which is to support their successful learning. I like to believe that they can take away some aspect of our work together to improve their abilities and their organizations.
What do you want students to take away from your course?
Data scientists don’t transform the healthcare world unless they learn to tell stories with their data. I went to school in Nashville and lived on music row for a while—right down from the Country Music Hall of Fame. In my class I play a 30-second clip of Johnny Cash singing Boy Name Sue, by Shel Silverstein to illustrate how you need context and information to draw conclusions. We then do a group project video conference where they can practice, learn and develop their own style.
Describe a moment where, as a teacher, you had an impact on a student’s life.
Some of my favorite moments have been when students get fired up about a lesson or topic and then reach out for references for higher roles, new jobs or advanced training placements. You see the chain of events and then announcements of their new achievements on LinkedIn. I’m very happy when I see these progressions stemming from their ambition and hard work.
How can an education in Healthcare Analytics positively impact a student’s life?
My hope is that it helps student’s get important roles because they have another great skill – then they can make an impact on other colleagues and on patients.