Military veteran graduates, lands dream job with global company
Georgia Southern University student Deyoun Johnson, who graduated with a health informatics degree in an Armstrong Campus ceremony on Saturday, served in the Army for almost 15 years, first enlisting to work in transportation and logistics until he found his niche serving as an information technology (IT) and communications specialist. However, an injury in Afghanistan forced him to step down from a military career sooner than expected.
Yet with help from the VA and the University’s TRIO services, which offers comprehensive services to first-generation students, low-income students and students with disabilities, Johnson enrolled in Georgia Southern’s IT program. There he learned about the health informatics degree, which links information technology, communications and healthcare to improve the quality and safety of patient care. He was intrigued by the alignment of his past experience with his interest in healthcare and switched studies.
“I’ve always been interested in healthcare,” said Johnson. “I’ve lost a lot of comrades and seen people with medical issues and injuries. I’ve always wanted to be part of that, especially with my injury. Once informatics came along, I thought I can help and do IT. So it’s exciting to be able to do that.”
During his program, Johnson participated in an internship with St. Mary’s Health Center, an outfit of St. Joseph’s/Candler health system, which offers free health services to the community. He was asked to create three quality healthcare measures within an in-house, electronic health record system that wasn’t being utilized well. After a one-day crash course on the system, he created 16 quality measures and a manual on how to use it.
“He trained providers on something they’d been using for years,” noted Paula Tillman, DNP, Georgia Southern Health Informatics Program Coordinator. “In follow-up, his work is living on. Now other physician practices want to use this. He put so much into it. He left a legacy and gave them something back.”
Johnson was also personally rewarded by the experience.
“I was actually able to help people that have health issues, but I was also able to help people who are struggling with insurance,” explained Johnson. “I was able to help them with a more efficient way of getting healthcare.”
Tillman encouraged Johnson to apply for a program assistant position at the 2018 HIMSS Global Conference & Exhibition, which brought almost 50,000 people together for world-class healthcare education and unique networking opportunities, in Las Vegas.
He was the only undergraduate student to land the role and left the conference with 16 job offers. The vice president of Cerner Corporation, the world’s second largest supplier of health information technology solutions that recently signed multiple billion-dollar contracts with the VA, Department of Defense and Coast Guard, took a particular interest in Johnson. He flew him to the company’s headquarters in Kansas City a few weeks later and offered him a position training clients like the NBA and Johns Hopkins Medicine.
Johnson accepted the position and will begin early 2019.
“It’s a dream job,” said Tillman. “He’s so inspiring. There is nothing he will not tackle on his own.”
And as Johnson looks to the future, he won’t forget his alma mater.
“I’ve really enjoyed being part of Georgia Southern and being a part of this program,” he said.
Georgia Southern University, a public Carnegie Doctoral/Research institution founded in 1906, offers 141 degree programs serving nearly 26,500 students through nine colleges on three campuses in Statesboro, Savannah, Hinesville and online instruction. A leader in higher education in southeast Georgia, the University provides a diverse student population with expert faculty, world-class scholarship and hands-on learning opportunities. Georgia Southern creates lifelong learners who serve as responsible scholars, leaders and stewards in their communities. Visit GeorgiaSouthern.edu.