By: John Brooks (MSHC Class of 2017)
Q: Where did you grow up, Shannon, and where are you currently residing?
A: I grew up in Mobile, Alabama, and I currently live in Lincoln Park in Chicago – right across the street from the zoo.
Q: Where did you do your undergraduate studies and what did you study there?
A: I went to Spring Hill College, which is the third-oldest Jesuit school in the country, and I did my undergrad in photojournalism and philosophy.
Q: How did you get into health communication, coming off those studies?
A: I stayed in Mobile, where the college was, after school and needed to get a job – my mom knew someone who worked for a Mobile-based EHR vendor and got me an interview. I wasn’t really exposed to healthcare that much before, but they allowed me to travel all over the country and go and teach and train people on how to use healthcare software and I kind of fell in love with it. I loved interacting with and training people and having the opportunity to go anywhere I wanted in the country. I just stuck with it, and moved from doing in-patient stuff to ambulatory work, all clinician-based. I’ve been in healthcare IT for 15 years now, which is crazy.
Q: So, what is your current job title at Rush Hospital?
A: IT Project Lead.
Q: You have a lot of experience working with the IT side of the healthcare industry – what drove you toward the Health Communication program? What helped you decide it would be a good career move?
A: I loved the fact that it blended things I already knew while challenging me with things I would need to know for the future of my career. Understanding how patient engagement is moving, for example. How we communicate with our patients is so different from how we communicate with our clinicians and we really need to start focusing on that and developing software for it.
Q: Spinning off that, what do you think this degree will do for your career? Is there a goal trajectory for you in the future?
A: I think for me it will give me the confidence and research-base to contribute when we’re working on strategic goals for the hospital and our department. I already have a seat at the table, but I’ll be able to incorporate the elements we’ve learned from the program and be confident in my decisions. The knowledge has helped me as well as the teammates I’ve shared it with.
Q: What are your hobbies? What kind of things do you like doing when you’re not in class?
A: I love photography; my background is in photography, and Chicago’s a beautiful city to take pictures of. The architecture, bands, those kind of things – I do love music too, so any opportunity that we can go and see a concert, be it a symphony, or an opera, or a really good hip hop show…all in between. I also recently picked up the fine art of crocheting. It was supposed to be something relaxing; I struggled in the classes I took but I’m doing better now!
Q: As far as the program has been thus far, what has been your favorite part?
A: I really enjoyed watching and prepping for the poster presentations [for How Interaction Works]. It was a great way for us to connect; a lot of us were nervous, but we got to relax and mingle afterward. I love giving presentations so for me it was mostly enjoyable, though.
Q: And considering the class material, was there a particular topic or week that you thought was most significant for you from this past quarter?
A: I was talking with my brother, who is in med school, about the history of the US Healthcare System, and I remarked that Dr. Liss had really saved the best for last in our discussion of primary care and its importance. It was great to hear how passionate he was about it, and it was one of my favorite lectures because it’s one of my passions as well.
Q: What advice do you have for students starting the program, now that you have a full quarter of it under your belt?
A: Get organized, get sleep, stay ahead of the readings, and enjoy your time in the classroom and participate! And don’t forget to take advantage of the program resources!