Studying

Review of 1st year Master’s in Health Informatics at Karolinska Institutet

Our 1st year studying Master’s in Health Informatics at Karolinska Institutet has come to an end. Wow! How this year has flown! Due to the pandemic, Class of 2020 battled through their 1st year studying 100% online. The teachers and university staff have been really supportive of us and so far the experience hasn’t been so bad, at least for me. Absolutely, it would have been better to have classes at the university but personally, I also really enjoyed not having to dress up and travel into university during the Swedish winter every couple of days.

I interviewed three students to get their insights into the first year.

So, readers of the blog, please welcome our three guests for the show tonight:

Jan Lorenz, Núria Rodríguez Ruiz and Phyo Wai Minn.

To give a little context of who these student’s are,  I’ve asked them to describe their professional and educational background in one sentence.

Jan – I studied Business IT and worked as a Technology Consultant for pharmaceutical companies.

Nuria – I studied Biomedical Engineering in Barcelona and I worked as an IT consultant within different industries for a year.

Phyo – I am a medical doctor from Myanmar. I have been working in the public health sector for 8 years. Strengthening health information systems is my area of interest.

So, What were your overall feelings about the year? Was it stressful? Fun? Boring?

Jan – Overall, it was a fun experience even though we had all lectures online. I’ve learned a lot from working together with medical background students. Some courses and parts during the year were more stressful, some less, but I have never been bored and had a fun start into my Master’s studies.

Nuria – I have had mixed feelings. Sometimes, it has been tedious having all the lectures and group work online. However, the great class environment and the valuable classes made the overall experience worthwhile and enjoyable. I also feel grateful to have met such wonderful people.

Phyo – I couldn’t be more excited to learn my favourite course, Health Informatics, in a high-ranking university like Karolinska Institutet. Generally, all modules are very interesting and the course structure is challenging, yet enjoyable. The only complaint I could make is the online teaching due to Covid-19. Although it doesn’t affect the quality of the course, I prefer a livelier learning environment with face-to-face discussion and classroom activities.

Me: It’s clear that COVID-19 has affected all of us but, it was necessary to have online studies. Fortunately, even though we were forced online, we were still able to form friendships and continue our Master’s studies.

Overall, I’ve really enjoyed my 1st year studying my Master’s. The stress levels have fluctuated dramatically a few times this year and that’s been quite hilarious looking back. At the start of the year, I was really disappointed about the online studies but fell naturally into the routine of waking up ‘late’ and taking it easy before the lectures. I really enjoyed learning more about the field of health informatics.

What has been your favourite course or part of your year studying? And, why?

Jan – The most useful and interesting course was for me “Basic Medical Science” to learn the foundation which has been helpful in other courses. However, this course was quite stressful and heavy. In terms of fun, I cannot name a single course. For me it is more about the interaction with other students and engaging in discussions.

Nuria – I came to Stockholm in January, so without doubts, the best part of the year was when I arrived and set up my new life. Winter in Stockholm might be freezing cold, but it is just so beautiful when the snow covers the city. It coincided with my favourite course so far, ‘Standardisation within Health Informatics’, mainly because it provides a broad overview of the field and has many practical laboratory sessions.  

Phyo – As a student with a medical background, I found that the Java programming course and Python course in the data science module were the most interesting ones. As a whole module, “scientific research methods” is my favourite one. These courses have plenty of assignments and lab activities that encourage learning by doing.

Me: The most favourite part of the year for me was actually getting to know the students and hearing their stories. It’s always fun to meet people, albeit online, and hear their perspectives on life and learning. My favourite subjects so far have been Standardisation within Health Informatics, for the hands-on learning, and Data Science in Health Informatics, because machine learning is magic.

Have you got any advice for future students who will be starting their 1st year Master’s in Health Informatics at KI?

Jan – Be proactive and get to know your fellow students! If possible, also engage in one of the many student sections or committees. And most importantly, do not stress yourself. Stockholm is an amazing city to explore, so also take time in your daily schedule for non-University activities.

Nuria – Regardless of the programme’s format, remember that you will probably live this experience only once. KI offers you endless events and opportunities to make the most of your time at the university and be part of it. Enjoy the journey, and do not stress about the future because HI is a fast-growing field. 

Phyo – “Pre-arrival guide” is quite comprehensive for new students. If you are a student with a medical background, it is good to be familiar with programming basic to get the most out of the course. But, of course, it is not mandatory. If you are a student from a tropical country, be aware of the Stockholm winter!

Me: Some great advice from our fellow mates here and, honestly, they have said it all. My advice is just to reiterate that it’s not all about getting the best grades here. It’s all about your involvement as a student at the university. Take advantage of it. Reach out! Meet new people. Join some clubs! Get involved. You won’t regret it!

Happy Reading!

Helen Nguyen - Health Informatics

Helen Nguyen - Health Informatics

Hi! I'm Helen from Australia here, currently living and loving life in Stockholm. I'm studying a Master's in Health Informatics at Karolinska Institutet. I love walking in nature, dancing and cycling around town. I love a good chat and enjoy a good hearty laugh. We can talk about nothing and discuss absolutely everything. I enjoy cooking food, falling asleep to movies and going for long walks in the forest.

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