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Alumni spotlight Q&A with Jordan Harstad

Amanda Goodman

With a bachelor’s degree in computer engineering, Jordan Harstad seemed an unlikely candidate for pursuing a graduate degree in health care, but that’s exactly what he did.

Harstad enrolled in the Edson College of Nursing and Health Innovation’s Master of Healthcare Innovation program at Arizona State University. It was his first introduction to the health care industry at the academic and career level.

“While taking courses in the MHI program I became extremely interested in health care IT. Since graduating in 2015, I was able to start a career in the field,” Harstad said.

Currently, he’s the market IT director at Tenet Healthcare in Phoenix — a role he worked his way up to thanks in part to the information and skills he picked up through his graduate experience at ASU.

“If you’re a student that is considering the MHI program but have no experience in health care, do it! The curriculum is a great complement to various unrelated undergraduate degrees and backgrounds,” he said.

Here, Harstad expands on how his education helped set him up for success and prepared him to thrive during a once-in-a-lifetime global pandemic.

Question: How did your degree program help you in achieving and maintaining the position you have now? 

Answer: A few months after graduation from the MHI program, I started my first health care job as a director of IT for a single hospital in downtown Phoenix. A few years later, I expanded my career as a multi-hospital IT director. Then, a few years after that, I was promoted as a market IT director, where I currently oversee all information technology needs for eight hospitals, multiple stand-alone emergency-department facilities and various other ambulatory clinics in the greater Phoenix, Arizona, area. 

Earning the MHI opened this door for me to pursue a health care IT career, and I am extremely grateful to have been granted the opportunity. Daily, and especially in the COVID-19 world we live in, I use strategy and teachings from the MHI program in every meeting, email and business plan I am involved with at work. This program was truly a life changer for me.

Q: What is a favorite memory from your time in your program? 

A: My favorite memory from my time in the program was actually my 2015 "incoming" interview with the MHI program chair/director, asking me why a computer engineer (CSE) undergraduate student wanted to enroll in the MHI program. I explained to him that I had done IT and CSE-related items my entire career and that I felt IT and health care were the next "big thing." Now, six years later, in the COVID-19 world we live in, this couldn't be more true.

Q: What advice would you give to students who are currently enrolled in the program? 

A: Absorb everything you are taught; it will truly change your perspective on health care, your career and everyday life. Don’t just submit the assignments for a good grade — make sure you understand the background, the strategy, the reasoning.

Q: What were some unique challenges, if any, you had to overcome while pursuing this degree?

A: Some unique challenges I had were that I had zero knowledge of health care. Many of my MHI classmates were already either in the health care industry or in a related field. I knew none of the acronyms; I could provide no examples in any of the assignments for experiences requested that related to MHI. It was very difficult but well worth the challenge.

To learn more about alumni activities, events and programming, visit the Edson College of Nursing and Health Innovation's alumni section.