Muzna Mirza is working on a Master of Science in Health Informatics degree in the Health Informatics Program, which is a part of the Health Services Administration department in the School of Health Professions.

Since she arrived at UAB from Pakistan, in August 2005, Muzna has been working with Dr. H. F. Orthner, a professor in UAB’s Health Informatics program, on the NLM-funded project Applications of Advanced Network Infrastructure for Health and Disaster Management. Their research involves a number of projects dealing with introduction of advanced information technology in pre-hospital care environment, including the following:

  • Development of criteria-based EMS (emergency medical services) dispatch algorithms for trauma patients and integrating them with computerized dispatching applications, so that emergency response time can be reduced, thus increasing patient survival rates.
  • Expert Validation of the Knowledge Base for E-CAD (enhanced computer-aided dispatch) system - a pre-hospital Dispatch Triage Decision Support System.

When asked why she chose UAB for graduate studies, she replied, “I found UAB to be one of the very few universities in the U.S. that offered an affordable and very comprehensive graduate degree program in Health Informatics. Additionally, UAB Hospital, being one of the top ranking academic hospitals in the U.S., was one of the reasons for my final decision to join the academic community at UAB. The main reason was the fact that I was offered a graduate research assistantship soon after being offered admission in the program. Finance is certainly the key to many decisions, especially for international students – and this offer was too good to resist as it has enabled me to concentrate on my studies and not constantly have to worry about paying my bills.”

Muzna credits several people who have influenced her at UAB. “Dr. H F Orthner and Dr. E S Berner have had the greatest academic influence on me since joining the program in August 2005. My regular work with Dr. Orthner’s project and my occasional work with Dr. Berner on a few of her projects have refined my interests in health informatics. Studying and working under their supervision has also nurtured greater self confidence in me. Joy Ptacek, Secretary for the Health Informatics Program, and Marcie Battles, Project Manager for the project that I work with, have also been very influential because of their superb management skills, including helping me out with literally everything that I have ever needed help with since coming to UAB. Stacye Fraser and the rest of the staff in the International Student Services office have also greatly influenced my experiences at UAB, through their diligent efforts to provide resources for all international students.”

Muzna’s advice for other graduate students is to appreciate the boundless opportunities and resources that UAB offers. “UAB is a remarkable source of knowledge and wisdom for us. We owe it to ourselves and the nation that supports us (by paying taxes and hence partially defraying the costs of education for us), to take full advantage of the time we spend with the gems here at UAB and later to spread the wisdom gained here to the rest of the world.”

Even though she named only 5 people who have had the greatest influence on her academic career at UAB, Muzna considers her entire UAB experience to be wonderful. “I have loved being here and greatly appreciate the warm welcome and guidance that I got starting from the moment I wrote to Joy asking for information about the health informatics program. Something remarkable at UAB is that every staff member really seems to love being in a position to help someone else with their particular area of service. Almost everybody goes out of their way to serve those who need help.”

While at UAB, Muzna has received several awards, including Who’s Who Among Students in American Universities and Colleges – selected from UAB (January 2007); HIMSS Foundation HealthLink Scholarship and award – Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (December 2006); AL-HIMSS President’s Award for academic excellence and leadership activities – Alabama HIMSS (November 2006).

After graduating, Muzna will join the Public Health Informatics Fellowship program at the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) starting June 25, 2007. She adds, “I am looking forward to the excellent training opportunity that it promises.” When Muzna completes her 2-year fellowship at the CDC, she plans to be involved with global public health informatics initiatives. Her ultimate goal is to be involved with research and teaching in health informatics.