Explaining such a situation involves a high school hobby, a shift in the medical industry, and an ad in a local newspaper.
A Fascination with Technology
Theodore has long been a fan of technology. In high school, he completed several computer science classes on coding, though the programming languages he learned then are quite antiquated now, he admits with a chuckle.
After college, Theodore initially worked in operations for a building wholesale company, where he was able to stay up to date on evolving technology trends by interacting with developers and understanding a myriad of systems and processes that went into running the company. Ultimately, however, he switched careers, trained to become a nurse, and joined the healthcare field.
A Changing Medical Industry
Though trained as a nurse, Theodore didn’t leave his interest in and involvement with technology behind. “Technology is constantly changing,” says Theodore, adding that the healthcare profession drastically changed as a result. “New technology means that medical health records can be automated and data systems can be improved.” For Theodore, that process came to his hospital roughly three years ago, when the institution went through a major software update. “I couldn’t necessarily speak the language,” says Theodore, “but there was so much development that went on behind the scenes, and it interested me.”
His interest piqued, Theodore began chatting with nursing technologists when they came around to explore their job responsibilities. But with a set of twins, he knew he couldn’t go back to school in a traditional sense to earn a master’s degree in nursing technology. Instead, he began looking into coding schools. He says the cost of tuition at many of the options he examined was prohibitive.
“There has not been a time when I had a question and they [JRS Instructors] weren’t available to answer it. They’re available at night and on weekends. They just love what they do and they are committed to their students. They just love what they do and they are committed to their students.”
As Theodore searched for a coding school option, he stumbled across an ad in his local newspaper. “It basically said, ‘Hi, I’m Tom Wilson, and I’m starting up a new coding school, and the tuition for our initial semester is $5,000,’” recalls Theodore. Now that he’s nearly finished the course, Theodore is certain it would be worth the investment at the full tuition of $10,000, too. After seeing the ad, he began researching Jack Russell Software. “Tom and Trip [Ottinger, JRS head instructor], they’ve been involved in a lot of technology-oriented projects in the area. They have a great reputation in the community.”
For Theodore, the fact that JRS Coding School’s parent company, Tabula Rasa HealthCare, was in the healthcare industry was icing on the cake. He immediately reached out to Wilson.
Life at JRS
Despite a long-time interest in technology, Theodore freely admits he was likely the least-prepared student in the initial JRS Coding School class. “There is so much going on behind the scenes,” he says, explaining that individual pieces of code talk to other individual pieces, and those pieces talk to other pieces, and that’s what gets the end-user information back. “There are so many layers to the cake.”
Understanding how that cake is made has been a challenge, and Theodore says that while he’s definitely learning, the journey is not a linear one. “When I was doing my nursing training,” he says, “I generally left each day feeling like I understood that day’s lesson. I understood how to put an IV in. I knew what was happening if a patient’s blood pressure dropped or heart rate increased. But with coding, the bigger picture can be harder to see sometimes. I’ll leave school feeling like like I’ve got it, and then I’ll get home and I’ll think, ‘you know, I don’t remember what happened there.’”
Theodore credits JRS Coding School instructors Tom Wilson and Trip Ottinger for helping him continue to improve. “They are generally with us from 9 am to 5 pm, but it goes beyond that,” he says. “We use Slack to communicate after hours; there has not been a time when I had a question and they weren’t available to answer it. They’re available at night and on weekends. They just love what they do and they are committed to their students.”
Moving forward, Theodore hopes to use his knowledge as a nurse and a programmer to serve as a bridge between nurses and developers in the healthcare space. In the healthcare industry, Theodore says, programmers often need to produce a product that they don’t actually understand from the healthcare angle. But at the same time, many nurses are not able to contribute to the dialogue that forms the basis for those products. “This is my opportunity, as a nurse, to have a seat at the table with software developers, almost as an adviser, and bring a nurse’s perspective to the conversation.”