Pathways to Healthcare

It is a common misconception that working in the field of healthcare requires going to medical school. While medical school is necessary to become a physician, there are hundreds of other roles that exist in the field of healthcare, many of which do not require years and years of graduate schooling (or none at all).

Each semester, the Center for Career Development holds a Pathways to Healthcare panel that features 4-5 UConn alumni who are currently working in healthcare and did not attend med school, dental school, PA school, or nursing school. These fantastic alumni share insight onto how they decided on their own career paths, what they did while still in college to gain experience, and how they transitioned into their current role post-graduation.

Each event also includes a brief overview presentation about different “buckets’ of healthcare occupations, including both patient-care-focused roles and more behind-the-scenes roles, where you can find more information about them, and advice for those of you who are looking to get started pursuing one of these careers.

UPCOMING EVENTS:

Check back for details about our Fall 2022 panel.

PAST EVENTS:

Panelists:

Faseeha Altaf
Division Lead, Research & Development at Yale University/Yale New Haven Health Center for Outcomes Research and Evaluation

At Yale/YNHH Center for Outcomes Research & Evaluation (Yale-CORE), Faseeha is involved with digital health, outcomes research, health equity, and U.S. health policy groundwork. Previously, she led research in clinical pathology, coordinated clinics for migrant farm workers, and managed global health nonprofit development. Faseeha’s past experience also includes assessing the need for new models of healthcare service delivery in occupational health and emergency medicine, and drafting domestic violence protocols in emergency departments. Some of her top interests include policy, digital health, healthcare delivery science & innovation, social determinants, elder care, and population health. Faseeha has both a bachelor’s in physiology and neurobiology from UConn and a master’s in public health from Dartmouth College.

Anna Ardizzoni
Medical Assistant at Newton-Wellesley Hospital

Anna graduated with honors in 2019 from UConn where she studied PNB and psychology. During her time at UConn she became a CNA through the American Red Cross and used these skills working at Student Health and Wellness. During college and continuing after graduation, she gained additional patient care experiences as a part-time nurse’s aide at an assisted living and memory care facility for the elderly.  Anna began her full-time career at Massachusetts General Hospital, as a clinical research coordinator for their Celiac Center where she supported multiple clinical trials.  Next, she pivoted to become a nurse’s aide at Winchester Hospital’s inpatient post-surgery floor, where she experienced caring for a variety of patients as well as observing care teams.  Today she works as a Medical Assistant at a Walk-In Clinic for Newton-Wellesley Hospital. Her variety of healthcare experiences over these past few years has helped her to solidify her dream of working directly with patients as a Physician Assistant and she is excited to be applying to such programs this spring. Anna is also passionate about helping her fellow Huskies who are interested in medicine. Please do not hesitate to reach out to her with any questions you may have! Email: Anna.Ardizzoni@uconn.edu

Meryl Pookkattu
Patient Care Advocate at National Health Corp

Meryl graduated from UConn in May 2021 with a double major in physiology and neurobiology and psychology. During her time at UConn, she was a STEM Scholar, PATH (Peer Allies Through Honors) mentor, undergraduate research assistant in Dr. Heather Read’s sensory neuroscience lab, and president of Honors in STEM and Chi Alpha Campus Ministries. She was additionally involved with Alpha Lambda Delta and Phi Beta Kappa. Currently, she is serving as a Patient Advocate with the National Health Corps in Philadelphia, an AmeriCorps program. Meryl aspires to be a physician and is participating in the 2021-2022 medical school application cycle.

Anjani Villa
Clinical Trial Management System Business Analyst III at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia

Anjani Villa is a Clinical Trial Management System (CTMS) Business Analyst III at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.  Since 2016, Anjani has supported and maintained the OnCore CTMS application, and she now manages a team of OnCore analysts. Her favorite part of the job is helping clinical research study teams operationalize their research studies. In total, Anjani has more than 12 years of clinical research experience working in academic medical centers in both clinical settings and in administration. She has been a Certified Clinical Research Coordinator through the Association of Clinical Research Professionals since 2013. Her education includes an M.S. in Clinical Research Organization and Management from Drexel University, and a B.S. in Biological Sciences from The University of Connecticut. Anjani’s overall interests include regulatory and compliance, research methodology and data management.

Panelists:

Cynthia Spitalny
VP of Marketing at RxVantage & Health Tech Fractional CMO

Cynthia graduated from UConn in 2003 with a BSc in Molecular and Cell Biology. She later went to the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine where she pursued her PhD in Immunology. After completing her PhD coursework, Cynthia realized that scientific research was not her calling and instead went into healthcare marketing where she hasn’t looked back. Cynthia has over 20 years of experience in healthcare, spanning product marketing, brand strategy, PR/Comm’s, and BD/partnership development. She currently works as the VP of Marketing at RxVantage, a cloud-based healthcare management system that streamlines communication between medical practitioners and representatives. In her spare time, Cynthia also serves as a fractional Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) where she advises startups in the health tech space.

Nayo Daniel
Volunteer Coordinator and Programs Coordinator at Maggie’s Place 

Nayo graduated from the University of Connecticut in 2020 with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and Human Development and Family Studies. After graduation, she went on to work as a Preschool Teacher for Edith B Jackson Child Care Program. Currently, she is a Volunteer and Programs Coordinator at Maggie’s Place. Maggie’s Place provides programs and services for pregnant and parenting women and their children by offering a warm and welcoming community, a safe place to live and learn, and ongoing services to help them become self-sufficient.

Nicholas M Jannetty
Radiologic Technologist at Saint Mary’s Hospital

Nicholas Jannetty is a CT Technologist, and has presented lectures on communication, and practice standards in Radiology to students at the high-school and college levels. He is a graduate of Naugatuck Valley Community College, (A.S Radiologic Sciences) and the University of Connecticut (B.S General Studies). While at UConn, he served as President of the Collegiate Health Service Corps (Waterbury Branch), Senator of the Waterbury Associated Student Government, Pack Ambassador, and member of the Academic Integrity Board. Nicholas is a member of the American Society of Radiologic Technologists (ASRT), and certified by the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT)  in both X Ray and CT Scan.

Rachael Elaine Padula
Sales Representative at Eli Lilly and Company 

Rachael graduated from the University of Connecticut in 2014 with a Bachelor of Arts in Communications and a minor in Sociology, Mass Media Theory, and Research. After graduating, she worked as an Applications Recruiter for TEKsystems where she was able to provide high quality and qualified technical professionals in order to meet the immediate needs of her clients. Rachael currently works at Eli Lilly and Company, a pharmaceutical company that is involved with drug discovery.

Panelists:

Anamika Mishra ‘18
Major: Chemistry
Current Role: Clinical Research Coordinator at NYU Langone Health

Anamika graduated with a Bachelor’s in Chemistry from UConn in 2018 and is currently working at NYU School of Medicine as a Clinical Research Coordinator. Her role includes coordinating clinical trials for prevention of Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) and slowing the progression of memory decline in patients with mild cognitive impairment (MCI). Additionally, she recruits subjects, conducts and schedules screenings and follow-up visits at various departments throughout NYU Langone Health and serves as a liaison to numerous pharmaceutical to numerous pharmaceuticals as well as medical centers throughout the US.

Christina Linegar ‘14
Major: Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences
Current Role: Surgical Neurophysiologist at SpecialtyCare

Christina graduated from UConn in 2014 with a Bachelor of Arts in Speech, Language and Hearing Sciences. She came back to UConn and received a graduate certificate in Intraoperative Neuromonitoring in 2019, and a Master of Science in Surgical Neurophysiology in 2020. She currently works as a Surgical Neurophysiologist at SpecialtyCare, where she works as part of a team that provides intraoperative neurophysiologic monitoring during surgical procedures where there is risk of neurological injury with the goal of detecting early signs of potential injury to reduce risk of postoperative deficit. Some aspects of her role involve explaining test procedures so they are understandable to the patient, performing initial clinical monitor and sensory neurological assessment, and incorporating results into expectations or changes in monitoring protocols.

Juliana Lewis ‘16
Major: Allied Health Sciences
Current Role: Research Consultant at The Lewin Group (formerly member of AmeriCorps)

Juliana graduated from the University of Connecticut in 2016 with a Bachelor of Science in Allied Health Sciences. She currently works as a Research Consultant at The Lewin Group, a health and human services consulting firm. Her role involves analyzing Medicaid and CHIP data, conducting policy research, and developing and conducting trainings. Prior to joining the Lewin Group, she was an intern at the Society for Public Health Education in Washington, DC and completed an AmeriCorps term at StayWell Health Center in Waterbury, CT. She is currently a Master of Public Health student at the George Washington University.

Quian Callender ‘16
Major: Healthcare Management
Current Role: Program and Analytics Manager, Health Equity at Hartford Healthcare

Quian graduated from UConn in 2016 with a Bachelor of Science in Healthcare Management, and later went on to the University of Michigan to receive both a certificate in Health Informatics, and a Master of Health Services Administration, Health Management and Policy in 2018. Quian currently works as a Program and Analytics Manager in Health Equity at Hartford Healthcare. His role involves informing strategy and identifying resources needed for development of a new department focused on health equity, diversity, and inclusion; leading health equity data analytics to drive better health outcomes and reduce health disparities; and facilitating community partnerships and relationships that promote community health and well-being.

Panelists:

Elizabeth Tomasco, Lab Supervisor at Yale University School of Medicine

Elizabeth is currently working at the Yale University DNA Diagnostics Lab, where she was previously an intern and then a technologist before becoming lab supervisor. She is certified by the American Society of Clinical Pathology in Molecular Biology and her background includes graduating from the Diagnostic Genetic Sciences Program at UConn. The completion of this program included a clinical rotation at Yale School of Medicine in their DNA Diagnostic Lab, where she gained skills in complex molecular analysis and performing testing for Fragile X, BRCA1/2, Prader-Willi/Angelman Syndrome, and next generation sequence analysis. During her time at UConn, she worked as a teaching assistant in a molecular technologies laboratory course, and as an ambassador and office worker for the College of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources.

Daniel Lupacchino, Licensed Massage Therapist and Bodyworker at Integrative Massage Works

Daniel graduated from UConn with a Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology in 2010. Daniel is fascinated by human culture and dynamics and he concentrated in Medical Anthropology, Ethnomedicine, Gender and Sexuality, Sociology, and Native American Studies, which provided him a unique view-point and understanding in his healing work. He started his holistic training at the age of 16, and is in private practice in both teaching healing practices in Glastonbury, CT. Daniel is a Licensed Massage Therapist, Medical Intuitive, Spiritual Counselor, Master Healer, and Integrated Energy Therapy Master Instructor. The scope of his class topics include healing, meditation, metaphysical practices, and spirituality. He is also a member of the American Bodywork & Massage Professionals.

Heather McHugh (MSOL), Talent Acquisition Sourcing Specialist at Hartford Healthcare

Heather is currently working as a Talent Acquisition Sourcing Specialist for Hartford Healthcare, a large, integrated healthcare network with over 30,000 colleagues in hospitals, behavioral health and rehabilitation services, medical group services, skilled-nursing and home health services, and a range of services for seniors. Heather is specifically responsible for filling openings in the Community Network across Connecticut, focusing on hard-to-fill openings. In previous years, Heather has held a variety of human resources and operations positions including as a Talent Acquisition Specialist for TRADEBE, dealing with employee relations, maintaining recruiting efforts, and managing internship programs. Heather graduated from Albertus Magnus College with degrees in Marketing and Human Resources Management and also holds a Master’s in Organizational Leadership from Quinnipiac University.

Dontrez Johnson, Community Health Fellow at Project Horseshoe Farm

Dontrez is currently attending the Horseshoe Farms Fellowship post baccalaureate program, which is an educational, grant-supported gap year for top graduating college students interested in learning about community health leadership, participating in innovative approaches to improving local health and education systems, and contributing to broader strengths in communities. Dontrez graduated in May 2020 from Tennessee State University with a Bachelor of Science with a focus in Biology/Chemistry and Cell and Molecular Biology and has plans to attend medical school to become a cardiologist.

Check out this recap of our Fall 2020 panel by our CLAS Career Ambassador, Anusha!

Panelists:

Maggie Balogh, M.S. Surgical Neurophysiology Student at UConn
Currently a graduate student in UConn’s Surgical Neurophysiology Master’s Program, Maggie has a number of years of clinical and research experience. Maggie is currently a practicum student at St. Francis Hospital, where she is learning the ins and outs of intraoperative neuromonitoring alongside operating room staff and neurologists. During her undergraduate studies, Maggie volunteered at Johnson Memorial Hospital as a patient advocate and was a client supervisor at Perception House, an addiction treatment facility. Maggie also participated in multiple health-related initiatives internationally, including an alternative break trip to the Dominican Republic and a summer abroad in Spain. After graduating with a double major in Psychological Sciences and Physiology and Neurobiology, Maggie became a Lab Manager at the Murine Behavioral Neurogenetics Facility, where she collaborated with various labs at UConn to select, carry out, and analyze a battery of behavioral tasks on genetic mouse models for one year before starting her graduate studies.

Stephanie Luczak (LMSW), Help Me Grow National Center Program Coordinator at Connecticut Children’s Medical Center
Stephanie graduated from UConn with her Bachelor’s in Political Science and Communications in 2014 and enrolled in the UConn Master’s in Social Work (MSW) program with a concentration in Policy and Practice shortly after. Her interest in children’s advocacy through a social work perspective guided her experiences working as an MSW Policy Intern and Direct Support Professional in the Connecticut Department of Developmental Services. Additionally, Stephanie held a position as a Research Assistant at DataHaven before collaborating with the Connecticut Voices for Children as a Policy Fellow and Intern. Currently, she promotes the healthy development of young children and the well-being of low-income youth of color as a Program Coordinator of the Help Me Grow National Center at Connecticut Children’s.

Heather McHugh (MSOL), Talent Acquisition Sourcing Specialist at Hartford Healthcare
Heather is currently working as a Talent Acquisition Sourcing Specialist for Hartford Healthcare, a large, integrated healthcare network with over 25,000 employees in hospitals, behavioral health and rehabilitation services, medical group services, skilled nursing and home health services, and a range of services for seniors. Heather is specifically responsible for filling openings in the Community Network across Connecticut, focusing on hard-to-fill openings. In previous years, Heather has held a variety of human resources and operations positions including as a Talent Acquisition Specialist for TRADEBE, dealing with employee relations, maintaining recruiting efforts, and managing internship programs. Heather graduated from Albertus Magnus College with degrees in Marketing and Human Resources Management and also holds a Master’s in Organizational Leadership from Quinnipiac University.

Mallory Mourmouras, M.S. Surgical Neurophysiology Student at UConn
Currently, Mallory is a graduate student at UConn pursuing her Master’s of Science in Surgical Neurophysiology, a degree that has introduced her to in-depth neuroanatomy and neurophysiology and is preparing her to sit for the CNIM certification. During her undergraduate career, Mallory studied Physiology and Neurobiology and was an Undergraduate Research Assistant in a behavioral neuroscience laboratory, where she worked with human subjects through spatial memory tasks. She also was involved with the Husky Ambassador Program and Pi Beta Phi as well as worked as a Teaching Assistant in an Enhanced Human Physiology and Anatomy course, responsible for leading group work sessions. She has a variety of other experiences as a substitute teacher and in the foodservice industry as well.

Check out this recap of our Spring 2020 panel by our Career Consultant, Lisa!

Panelists:

Alyssa Blanchette
Distributor at Paragon 28

Alyssa currently serves as the principal distributor at Sole Surgical, LLC., which is an exclusive distributorship of Paragon 28. In this role, Alyssa is part of a team that is dedicated to creating tailored solutions and tools to improve the treatment of the most difficult foot and ankle conditions that take into account individual surgeon’s preferences, creative innovation, high-quality, and cost-effectiveness. Previously, Alyssa spent almost four years as an emergency room medical scribe at two inner-city trauma centers. As a medical scribe, Alyssa interacted regularly with the medical director, assistant medical director, doctors, APRNs, nurses, CNAs, and clerical staff at both facilities while playing an integral role in documenting patients’ physical exams, lab results, and imaging according to compliance standards. Alyssa graduated from UConn with a Bachelor of Science in Allied Health Sciences and is also a graduate of Medical Sales College with a focus on Orthopedic Reconstruction/Trauma.

Corbinian Wanner
Research Assistant – Glycogen Storage Disease Program at Connecticut Children’s Medical Center

As a research assistant with the Glycogen Storage Disease Program at Connecticut Children’s Medical Center, Corbinian both designs individual research projects and supports ongoing research projects related to the rare metabolic disorder glycogen storage disease. During his undergraduate years at UConn, Corbinian worked towards a Bachelor of Science in Biological Sciences and was a part of the Honors Program. He also worked within the Connecticut Children’s Emergency Department and designed a study that compared children’s academic perceptions with socioeconomic factors, with the goal of identifying correlations, and was involved with the development of a tool that will refer at-risk youth to Hartford nonprofits and community partners. As a recent graduate looking to expand his knowledge and experience, Corbinian also spends time shadowing hospital staff in various positions and departments and attending grand rounds presentations at Connecticut Children’s.

Eric Halpern, PharmD
Assistant Dispensary Manager at Fine Fettle

Dr. Halpern currently works at a medical marijuana dispensary in Newington, CT called Fine Fettle. Relatively new to this role, he is excited to increase awareness of the CT Medical Marijuana Program and medical cannabis among pharmacists, healthcare professionals, and patients throughout the state. Dr. Halpern has also worked as a pharmacy manager at Stop & Shop, People’s Medical & Pharmacy, and Walgreens. Throughout his five years as a pharmacy manager, Dr. Halpern has overseen training for pharmacy technicians and pharmacists, enrolling patients in a medication synchronization program, the coordination of medication deliveries, and improving local community relationships with various educational and outreach initiatives among many other things. Prior to working as a manager, Dr. Halpern also had roles as a staff pharmacist, district pharmacist, and pharmacy intern at Walgreens. Dr. Halpern received his PharmD from UConn.

Patrick Adams
Clinical Collaborator, Foundation Medicine

Patrick Adams works at Foundation Medicine, which is a biotechnology company in Massachusetts that is dedicated to transforming cancer care through a deep understanding of the genomic changes that contribute to each patient’s unique cancer. In this role, Patrick develops relationships with key stakeholders in the cancer care industry and develops specific plans to facilitate the application of Foundation Medicine’s products and services. Previously, Patrick worked at Genomic Health, a company that specializes in genetic research and cancer detection. In his role as a senior genomic liaison at Genomic Health, a sales-oriented position, he shared his medical and scientific expertise with healthcare providers and decision-makers, effectively communicating how the company’s products and methods could be applied in distinct scenarios. Patrick has over twenty years of experience in pharmaceutical sales and specializes in selling in clinically complex environments.

Sayan Basu
Test Engineer at Medtronic

Sayan has a number of years of medical research experience, which have led him to his current position as a test engineer at Medtronic. As a test engineer, Sayan is a part of the new product development team for Medtronic’s Minimally Invasive Therapies Group (MITG). Sayan’s past medical research includes time in labs at both UConn, focusing on bicelle encapsulated semiconductor quantum dots, and Yale University, focusing on the use of fMRI neural feedback and motor imagery as therapeutic intervention. Sayan graduated from UConn with a Bachelor’s degree in Biomedical Engineering and a minor in Materials Science and Engineering.