Prepared to Make an Impact

Nelson OkimotoKelson Okimoto

Program Manager, Operations Analyst, UW Medicine

Kelson Okimoto knew he wanted to work in the health care industry, but he wasn't sure what role would be best ­­-- or what opportunities existed beyond direct patient care.

With the UW HIHIM program, the 2015 grad found a degree that brought together his interests in health care and technology and set him on a quick path to a great career.  He said the curriculum’s “marriage” of the health care management and computer science fields enabled him to start working as a manager and clinical informatics analyst before even completing the program. 


Can you explain a bit about your educational and professional background?

Prior to entering the HIHIM program, I was a sophomore interested in a career in the health care industry, unaware of the opportunities that existed outside the realm of patient care. I had a personal interest in nursing and computer science but no relevant education or professional experience to enter the job market..

Tell me about your current job and how you got it.

I'm the program manager for an inpatient consultation service and quality analyst for UW Medicine. The opportunity was presented to me during an interview for an unrelated student hourly position.

Why did you choose to take this program?

Growing up in a small island community with limited health care resources helped me realize the impact technology can have on the health care industry. I felt the HIHIM program had the ability to develop my understanding of health care systems and care processes. It placed me in the best position to improve the delivery of care in my community.

Did you make any valuable connections through the program?

I continue to keep in touch with students and instructors from the program. Many of my former classmates are now colleagues working for neighboring organizations. They continue to be the greatest resource for job opportunities and even professional guidance.

What did the instructors bring to the program?

The instructors are veteran industry professionals with years of front-line experience in the field. Each instructor brings their own personal experiences and professional insights to the classroom, providing dynamic perspectives to each topic. Many of the instructors also share their personal connections with the program, which provides an even greater opportunity for students to network.

Did you gain any experience that was helpful in meeting your professional goals?

The program introduced us to many HIM professionals, including an HIM department manager. Speaking with professionals in the field helped me realize the importance of understanding the clinical and care process component of health care, despite HIM's non-clinical role. The site visits offered during winter quarter are also fun little excursions that give you a taste of what to expect once you become an HIM professional.

What would you say to someone who is thinking about taking this program?

The HIHIM program is one of the best life choices I've made to accelerate my professional career. This program is a great launching point to a variety of administrative, research and healthcare IT-related fields. It's even a great starting point for people interested in direct patient care, and has jump-started my path to becoming a clinical social worker.