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Prescribing Change: How Boot Camp Graduates Are Giving Back to the Medical Community

Written by Molly Forman on Dec 16, 2020

Related content: Outcomes, Technology

Not all heroes wear capes. For proof, just look at healthcare professionals. Each day, these courageous workers wake up and choose to help others—steadfast in the pursuit of service.

But even the best superheroes need a sidekick. That’s where modern technology enters the equation. Artificial intelligence that detects deadly diseases. Virtual reality that speeds rehabilitation. Algorithms that predict patient outcomes. Not only do tools like these support the healthcare community and accelerate innovation—they also save lives.

As technology advances, healthcare visionaries will continue harnessing the power of data to prescribe industry-wide change. Here’s how four graduates of 2U-powered boot camps are doing exactly that.

Contributing Valuable COVID-19 Data

After completing the Columbia Engineering Data Analytics Boot Camp, Jorge Sanchez started working as a data research analyst at Northwell Health in March 2020.

With the U.S. actively combatting COVID-19, there was an increased demand for people who could decipher large amounts of clinical data. And that was precisely what Northwell Health had hired Jorge to do.

As a data research analyst, Jorge collaborates with doctors and other medical experts to analyze critical COVID-19 data. Since joining the team, he has worked on four major projects related to the pandemic, regularly using Python, R, and other skills he learned in the boot camp.

“Being part of a team that has made an impact in these tough times feels good,” said Jorge. “It was thanks to the boot camp that I could help out.”

Speeding Access to Life-Saving Treatments

When Charlotte Asencio enrolled in The Coding Boot Camp at UNC Charlotte, she was the only student in her class with a background in social work. “I made the weirdest change of anyone in my cohort,” she said. “I went from working with all people to all computers.”

But before long, Charlotte realized that the leap from social work to coding wasn’t so strange after all. Both disciplines allowed her to do something she cares deeply about: help others. “Computers are so intertwined with everyone’s lives these days,” she explained. “You can use technology to help people just like you can in social work. It’s just a different way of going about it.”

Two months into the boot camp, a friend told Charlotte about an opening at her husband’s tech company, Clinical Ink. “My friends basically forced me to apply,” Charlotte said. “I was terrified, but I worked up the courage—and I got the job.”

As a programmer, Charlotte is responsible for creating systems that speed up data analytics for clinical trials. “There are people waiting on these medicines,” she said. “The faster the data can be analyzed, the faster they can have access to potentially life-saving treatments. So we’re helping people every day.”

Advancing Alzheimer’s Research

After gaining new skills in the KU Data Analytics Boot Camp, Tatsuya “Tad” Murao landed a data analyst role at a small tech startup, Arcos Analytics. The position came with many perks—one of which was the freedom to pursue outside interests. “We determine our own hours and have the opportunity to spend 30% of our time on personal research,” explained Tad.

From the beginning,Tad knew he would focus his attention on Alzheimer’s disease. “I’m using this time to continue developing my analytical skills and conduct personal research on ways that VR can help patients with Alzheimer’s or dementia,” said Tad. “I’m reading a lot of statistical books and academic papers. I was inspired to pursue the topic because my grandmother suffered from Alzheimer’s—and it’s been a really impactful experience for me.”

Looking ahead, Tad aspires to better understand the disease by learning the brain structure of Alzheimer’s patients. Ultimately, he wants to use this research to create a VR treatment for the condition, develop other effective ways to support patients and caregivers, and potentially pursue a career as an Alzheimer’s support professional.

“If I hadn’t done the boot camp, this path would never have been possible for me,” said Tad.

Programming Algorithms That Prevent Disease

After completing the Houston Coding Boot Camp delivered by UT Austin, Sean Bullock started working as a software engineer for the neurology department of Massachusetts General Hospital. There, he helped data scientists and PhD researchers refine an algorithm that identifies if patients are at increased risk of a fatal blood infection.

The stakes were high: If doctors catch a blood infection in time, they can prevent unnecessary deaths. By supplying real-time data, Sean’s team helped the hospital treat patients and stop deadly diseases in their tracks.

“The skills that I learned at the boot camp allowed me to be successful at this job,” said Sean—especially the programming language SQL, which he used to query the hospital database and make it searchable within their portal.

Today, Sean has moved on to another role as manager of reporting and analytics at the digital health startup Activate Care. There, he continues to fuse his passions for tech and medicine—markedly improving lives in the process.

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