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Alex Cutsumbis – A Tale of Two Passions

September 14, 2020

There are many paths leading to a career in health informatics. For Alex Cutsumbis, health informatics – and data science – was a way to merge two backgrounds and enhance the knowledge he already possessed. After years of work in emergency medicine, and years before that in IT, Cutsumbis will be advancing his career with an MS in Health Informatics.

With a graduation date set in Summer 2021, Cutsumbis followed the path that led him to the Master of Science in Health Informatics program at the University of Pittsburgh.

Pittsburgh All the Way

Cutsumbis is no stranger to the University of Pittsburgh. He earned his undergraduate degree from Pitt in 2010 and has been working as an instructor at UPMC’s Center for Emergency Medicine for the last several years. It’s safe to say that Pitt is home for him.

Still, when choosing a graduate program, it is not about what is familiar. Cutsumbis says University of Pittsburgh’s MSHI is “a top 5 program and has an excellent variety of coursework to prepare for entry into the workforce.” For someone who is already working full-time, flexibility was just as important as curriculum. He felt the program was “honest and upfront concerning commitment.”

Staying close to home may seem like the safe path, but for Cutsumbis it was just the right one. Having started the program and worked through much of the coursework, he is still confident in his decision. He’ll tell you “if you’re thinking about a career in data science/health care informatics, consider this program.”

The Tale of Two Passions

“You can do anything as long as you have the passion, the drive, the focus and the support.” – Sabrina Bryan

Everyone is passionate about something. There is always at least one thing that fills someone with fervor. Alex Cutsumbis has two passions: IT and health care.

His enthusiasm for health care is certainly more obvious in recent years. Starting in 2008, he began working part-time as a paramedic. In 2010, he earned his BS in Emergency Medicine and has since gone on to teach others about emergency medical services. If you look further back, though, you’ll see a deep love for IT as well.

Cutsumbis worked in IT for years before returning to school. While he may have put it on the backburner, both academically and professionally, his love for IT persisted long after he left the industry. Eventually, he decided to return to it – at least in part. The University of Pittsburgh Master of Science in Health Informatics (MSHI) allows Cutsumbis to focus on data science and combine both passions, health care and IT, into one fulfilling career.

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Work-Life Balance

Work is not all there is; there’s also your family responsibilities, social life, sleep, errands … you get the picture. It can be difficult to juggle everything and maintain balance. Trying to manage all of that while going back to school? That’s much easier said than done. But, it’s what Cutsumbis is doing.

Cutsumbis works full time. He is an instructor at UPMC’s Center for Emergency Medicine and a part-time paramedic. That in itself is a full load. The addition of class time, schoolwork and group projects created a whole new balancing act. While it may be difficult, Cutsumbis believes that good time management makes it all possible. The “tremendous support” provided by the university and the MSHI professors certainly helps, too.

In addition to the “24/7 help desk, tremendous library and tech resources,” according to Cutsumbis, the professors make themselves readily available to students. They allow for open lines of communication and are more than accommodating when life inevitably gets in the way.

Many MSHI students are non-traditional – they are already building careers and families in addition to schoolwork – and this can make things difficult no matter how good they are at time management. Having professors who are understanding and willing to work with you is a necessity for success. MSHI provides that understanding and support. To the MSHI professors, their students are more than just names on the page. Their students matter to them and they work hard to ensure student success.

Real Knowledge with Real-World Application

The University of Pittsburgh MSHI curriculum provides its students with skills that are immediately applicable in their current careers. Cutsumbis says that “many of the assignments can be directly translated into use in a work setting” and what is being taught provides an “amazing pool of knowledge and experience from which students can draw upon and be supported.”

It’s not just the curriculum, though. The MSHI instructors are nationally and globally renowned in the field they are currently teaching. They bring with them extensive academic backgrounds and in-depth industry experience that allows them to teach from both sides of a subject. Not only are they introducing knowledge, they are providing the necessary framework for real-world application.

Pitt understands its students and their needs. People enter the MSHI program in different places in their careers and come from a variety of backgrounds. With many students already working in a relevant field, the need for both long-term and immediate skill application is undeniable. The MSHI curriculum was built to support this need and the faculty understand it on a deeper level.

The Growing Field of Health Informatics

Health informatics touches every aspect of the health care industry. From the paperwork you fill out every time you visit the doctor to the predictive models being used to maintain and prevent outbreaks like COVID-19, you see health data at work. It is the future of health care, so it is no surprise that opportunities abound in this field.

You can advance or begin your career in health informatics with an MSHI from Pitt. The University of Pittsburgh Master of Science in Health Informatics program allows for a concentration in Data Science, General Health Informatics, Health Care Supervision and Management, and Registered Health Information Administrator (RHIA).

Learn more about Pitt’s online MSHI program and how it can help you diversify your skillset and lay the foundation for a career with infinite growth opportunities.

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