headshot of online healthcare analytics student Terence Kelley

“Having a certificate in healthcare analytics has allowed me to remain competitive in the research field,” said Terence Kelley, M.S., a research scientist and evaluation specialist with the California Department of Public Health’s Tobacco Control Program.  We interviewed Kelley partway through the Healthcare Analytics Certificate Program a year ago and he was already applying his learnings. Now, after completing the certificate program, he has a new promotion under his belt. 

You were already working with healthcare data prior to starting the certificate program, so what made you decide to pursue an education in healthcare analytics? 

The main reason I wanted to pursue an education in healthcare analytics was because I wanted to learn more software skills that are commonly used in analytics today. Some of these software programs include Statistical Analysis System (SAS) software, which can be used for data management, advanced analytics, multivariate analysis, business intelligence and predictive analytics. Many jobs in the state, private and academic settings are requiring more technical skills in the field of data science and analytics.  

Why do you feel continuing education is important for staying current in your career? 

As a research scientist, the landscapes of science and technology are constantly changing. Education is a key part of being able to understand these changes and learn technical skills that can keep you at a competitive advantage. As the workforce has moved to more remote schedules, it’s imperative to adapt to an online learning environment. 

What were the main takeaways you got from the program? 

My graduate degree explored concepts and theories in health sciences and epidemiology, which was great; however, we had a limited number of trainings on the specific software coding needed for healthcare analytics—which is necessary in research and healthcare analytics today. Throughout the Healthcare Analytics Certificate Program, I was able to examine epidemiological concepts in health outcomes research and methods for evaluating the patterns, causes and effects of health outcomes in varied populations. I have been trained in SAS, SQL and Tableau. One of the course modules focused on Tableau Software (an interactive data visualization software), which is commonly used by federal, state and academic institutions to create COVID-19 dashboards. Additional training in statistical inference in healthcare analytics, research and evaluation has been tremendously helpful in allowing me to apply scientific research methods. As an example, I will be presenting at the 2020 American Public Health Association (APHA) Conference an abstract I submitted on Improvements in Door-to-Needle Times Among Acute Ischemic Stroke Patients in California, 2015 to 2018. In my analysis, I used generalized estimating equation models to examine median stroke door-to-needle (DTN) time trends using Registry data in California.  

Which class has had the biggest impact on you or your career?

Applied Healthcare Statistics had the biggest impact. During this course, we examined epidemiological concepts in health outcomes research and methods for evaluating the patterns, causes and effects of health outcomes in varied populations. Some of the topics included study design; generalized linear models; internal and external validity; and methods to minimize bias, adjusting for confounding and measuring effect modification.