Asian Americans for Community Involvement

This is the next in a series of posts by recipients of the 2018 Career Services Summer Funding Grant. We’ve asked funding recipients to reflect on their summer experiences and talk about the industries in which they’ve been spending their summer. You can read the entire series here.

This entry is by Ken Yanagisawa, COL ’20

This summer, I worked as a systems analyst at a local nonprofit clinic in San Jose, California called Asian Americans for Community Involvement (AACI). In the Silicon Valley, the cost of living has risen, and many struggle to make ends meet, let alone seek healthcare. AACI aims to promote community wellbeing by providing affordable health care to the community, especially to the underserved. Financial resources are tight for a nonprofit health clinic, so I am thankful to receive Penn Career Service’s summer internship grant and am grateful to the donors who have made this summer internship experience possible.

As a computational biology major, I believe it to be important to learn skills in data analytics, and at this internship, I learned to work with a health records database in SQL. I studied SQL through online resources and applied what I learned with the real-world database. Working with a live database provided me with valuable insight that I would not have been able to gain from just learning SQL online.

I learned through experience that though there are best practices in how to design a SQL query script, sometimes the database design requires analysts to sacrifice efficiency. The clinic I work at uses NextGen’s proprietary electronic health record system. Because we are not provided with a database schema or data dictionary, the lead systems engineer, the other systems analyst, and I must figure out on our own how to access the relevant data values. Therefore, sometimes the query scripts we create employ SQL functions that are not considered best practice but allow us to create a viable work around solution for our situation.

Furthermore, querying data from a database has also taught me to consider other perspectives to data. One of my projects that I worked on created a SQL report of behavioral health patient discharge reasons. The electronic medical record form that the providers use at the clinic are provided by the county government. The data values it provides to the database are unintuitive, so I asked to understand the workflow of the providers, or how the data is being inputted and what the providers are trying to convey with those inputs. This gave me insight in how the electronic form behaves and what inputs are possible, allowing me to design a SQL query that best portrays what the providers meant when discharging the patient. My final product will help management understand the performance of their behavioral health center and how behavioral health patients improve.

Working in SQL and databases is a valuable skill in data analytics, and I hope to build upon the skills and experience I have gained from this internship. I have already started to see how I can combine SQL with Python to add a deeper analysis of the data. This internship has given me a solid skill base to pursue more opportunities in data science and analytics in the future. Thank you again to Penn Career Services and the donors for making this summer internship possible.

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