Student stories

Health Informatics student assists Fraser Health with their response to COVID-19

Madeleine Franciosi

Fraser Health

Madeleine Franciosi is a health informatics student completing a co-op term at Fraser Health, where she is working on a virtual health systems project that is responding to COVID-19. Read more about her experience below. 

Why did you choose UVic and your program of study? Why did you choose to participate in co-op?

I have been passionate about working in the medical/healthcare field for as long as I can remember. When I was younger, I dreamed of becoming a nurse. In high school, I became interested in pursuing business as well. When I found out about health informatics (the intersection between computer science, business, and healthcare) then pursuing this degree seemed like a no brainer.

Besides loving the city of Victoria, I chose UVic because it is the only school in Canada that offers health informatics at the undergraduate level. Co-op terms are mandatory as part of my degree, but I would have opted for completing co-op work terms anyway as I believe they are extremely beneficial to the learning process.

Please tell us about your current work term. Why did it appeal to you? Where are your working? What are your responsibilities? What’s your favourite part of your job?

Currently, I am a student business analyst for Fraser Health. I liked the idea of working for the largest health authority in BC and working on a large team. My responsibilities mainly pivot around my term project, which is evaluating the virtual health visits that occur within Fraser Health. This includes tracking the visits within the core clinical systems, identifying clinical areas that provide virtual health services, and identifying gaps in data. My favourite part of my job is gaining experience with the clinical systems, which are incredibly valuable as the world increasingly relies on technology.

Is your work related to COVID-19 (e.g., are you working on a project that is supporting the response, and if so, how is it related)?

As Fraser Health continues to deal with COVID-19, there is a need for increased virtual health options. This can include appointments for consultations, diagnostics, check-ups, and more. By encouraging virtual visits (via video conference or telephone call), we can keep health facilities open for people with pressing health needs, and also limit the spread of the virus in the process. I think that virtual health was becoming a popular idea regardless of COVID-19, but this current situation just sped up the process of utilizing it.

What is it like working remotely? (How do you connect with your supervisor and colleagues? What are the challenges? What are the benefits?

Working remotely was something I was apprehensive about prior to starting my Co-op term. I am extremely personable and love to immerse myself into workplace culture. I quickly realized that although remote work isn’t the same as being in office, it really isn’t so bad. Each morning, we have a team meeting for 30 minutes. Here, we talk about any administrative items, do a check-in question, and discuss our plans for the day. The challenge is that we don’t get to see each other face-to-face, and sometimes the network is slow. The benefits are that I can stay in my PJ’s until whenever I want (don’t tell my boss though), and I can work on my patio in the sunshine. I also have gained a lot of drive and self-motivation.

What are you learning in your co-op work term? How do you think it will support your academic studies?

I am learning and gaining so much experience with how the clinical information systems work within the health authority. These information systems are where patient data is stored. The limiting of paper records is not only good for the environment and security purposes, but it allows for interoperability between teams, departments, and facilities. This co-op will support my studies as experiential learning makes theoretical approaches in the classroom a lot easier to comprehend.

What impact would you like to make during this work term, at UVic, and when you complete your studies?

During this work term, I hope to make an impact with virtual health practices within Fraser Health. I want to gain as much experience as I can, so that upon my return to UVic and in the future, I will have innovative ideas regarding the use of technology in healthcare.

What are your plans for your future career? How has co-op helped you with your career exploration and goals?

Upon graduating I plan to complete the post-degree 20-month bachelor of science in nursing at UBC. As mentioned, I have always dreamed of being a nurse, so I figure, why not do both? I am so passionate about both the clinical and business operations of healthcare, in and outside of the hospital. Having both of these degrees and the knowledge of both sides is what will allow me to pursue something that incorporates both specialties.

More about Health information science co-op