Health

Happy New Year: Let’s Enhance Our GIS Skills Together

I’m wishing everyone a 2023 filled with happiness, good luck, and the very best of health!

For me, January 1st is always a special occasion. I absolutely love the annual process of welcoming in a new year. Despite having done it 58 times, it never ceases to bring a sense of possibility and ambition to the fore. This year, I’m going to share one of my resolutions with you and invite you to join me in accomplishing a worthy goal – building and modernizing Health GIS skills.

Before we get into the specifics of this goal, I’d like to share my annual resolution process with you. In keeping with the spirit of the occasion, I begin by internalizing my inner Janus. As you may know, Janus, the Roman god for which January was named, is the god of beginnings, gates, doorways, transitions, time, passages, frames and endings. He is often pictured with two faces – one that looks backward and one that looks forward. That’s exactly what I like to do.

Looking backward, I review my prior year’s resolutions – assessing my progress on each one and documenting my final conclusions. I usually achieve about 70-75% of my goals. This year, having just completed the process, I was closer to about 50%. You might not be impressed, but I’m still thrilled that I made so much progress. Did I mention that I had 40 resolutions for 2022? Completion of 20 goals is a big deal!

Looking forward, I build a series of goals that revolve around several life areas: health and personal care, financial, recreation, household, career, social/family/personal. Ultimately, I’m trying to use my goal setting to help achieve a sense of life balance while also adopting new behaviors and enriching myself. Each goal is a relatively SMART goal, meant to be measurable at the end of the year (or at some specific point during the year). It all works pretty well for me.

This year, I thought I’d add a bit of transparency to one of my career goals – building and modernizing my GIS skills. Prior to joining Esri as the Chief Medical Officer, I had great desktop GIS abilities since they were an integral part of my research and teaching program at the University of California Davis. And while I know an awful lot about GIS, constant product updates, changes, and releases requires me to also refine my GIS skills from time to time.

So here’s the goal:

Work through each lesson in the Health GIS Curriculum by August 1, 2023.

Here’s how I’ll approach it:

Those of you who know me, know that I’m passionate about my work and I strongly believe that a geographic approach to many health challenges could really change the game. However, too few epidemiologists, data scientists, health analysts, informatics professionals, CIOs and other executives know the capabilities of GIS software nor how to use it. This curriculum was meant to build those skills quickly with focused lessons using real-world scenarios. While you could take advantage of any number of opportunities to learn Health GIS – this is perhaps the most streamlined approach yet. It’s free and you can do it on your own time.

Want to join me? Completing Section 1 – Introduction to GIS Fundaments is the goal for January. The section has 10 tutorials that amount to about 8 hours of training. It’s the longest of the 6 sections in the curriculum. It’s a good thing we’re doing this first while our motivation is high! I know we can do it.

Let’s get started. I’d really love to hear from you. Are you resolving to join me in this challenge? As you go through the lessons, you can provide feedback (there is a button for that on the front page of the curriculum to make it easy). Let me know if you have suggestions to make this better or ideas for new Health GIS tutorials. I’m listening and I’ll know exactly what you’re talking about since I’m doing it too.

Here’s to advancing our Health GIS community with up-to-date technology skills. 2023 is already looking like its going to be a great year!

Happy New Year!

About the author

Dr. Este Geraghty, MD, MS, MPH, CPH, GISP, is the Chief Medical Officer at Esri where she leads strategy and messaging for the Health and Human Services sector. Dr. Geraghty has been with Esri since 2014 and has led business development and solution development in the market. During her time at Esri, Dr. Geraghty has helped organizations around the world use location intelligence to combat Zika virus, finish the fight against polio, grapple with the opioid crisis, combat homelessness, enhance health preparedness and response, inform strategic planning, optimize healthcare access, and traverse the COVID-19 pandemic while tackling inequity. Formerly the Deputy Director of the Center for Health Statistics and Informatics with the California Department of Public Health, Dr. Geraghty led the state vital records and public health informatics programs. There she engaged in statewide initiatives in meaningful use, health information exchange, open data and interoperability. While serving as an Associate Professor of Clinical Internal Medicine at the University of California at Davis she conducted research on geographic approaches to influencing health policy and advancing community development programs. In addition to her degrees in Medicine, Medical Informatics and Public Health, Dr. Geraghty is also a board-certified public health professional (CPH) and a Geographic Information Systems Professional (GISP).

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