Ron Landreth, who is earning a master's degree in the Health Informatics and Information Management program, works in UMMC's Division of Information Systems to help maintain multiple software applications that improve patient outcomes.
Ron Landreth, who is earning a master's degree in the Health Informatics and Information Management program, works in UMMC's Division of Information Systems to help maintain multiple software applications that improve patient outcomes.
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#2024UMMCGrad: SHRP grad tinkers with career change, contributes to health care improvements

Published on Monday, April 29, 2024

By: Danny Barrett Jr., dlbarrett@umc.edu

Photos By: Joe Ellis/ UMMC Communications

It’s often joked that, for some people, the feat of successfully setting the clock on a microwave oven or similar household device must require some sort of special engineering degree, but not for self-described tinkerer Ron Landreth.

When he earns his master’s degree in Health Informatics and Information Management from the University of Mississippi Medical Center School of Health Related Professions on May 24, he will have shown that same kind of natural ability – a skill his parents were likely the first to appreciate.

“I’d always tinkered with electronics as a kid,” said Landreth, a Bartlett, Tenn. native and current Madison resident. “So, yeah, I was the one who’d always set the clock on the old VCR or the microwave. When my family got a computer, I would fix whatever virus or problem was on it.”

Still, it took some time and trouble for Landreth, 45, also a 12-year employee in UMMC’s Division of Information Systems, to find his calling as a “Mr. Fix-It” in technology. His quarter-life career change has paid off nicely, as he’s been a versatile member of the team that keeps technology working for the betterment of patient care.

“My job involves a lot of customer service skills, working with those who had trouble with their computers,” said Landreth, who is an administrator for the Picture Archiving and Communication System, or PACS, which supports applications used in radiation oncology such as Mosaiq and RayStation that plan patient treatments. “It’s good I learned those kinds of skills in my previous jobs.”

He earned a marketing degree from Ole Miss in 2001 and went to work in sales and inventory for Coca-Cola. “I’d go to the grocery stores, stock their shelves and put the orders in,” he said. “After a while, I did the same for Red Bull.

“I was in a traffic accident in the Red Bull truck, which was the turning point for switching careers to IT. It all happened for a reason because it gave me the push to go into something I actually enjoyed.”

He returned to school and earned an associate degree in computer networking from Holmes Community College, where he said a classmate of his clued him in to opportunities at both UMMC and Best Buy. After a stint on the retailer’s “geek squad” doing basic computer repair, he came on board as a contractor with DIS in 2012.

His first bit of work in the department was with the School of Health Related Professions, mainly as their desktop support person to troubleshoot issues with commonly used apps such as Canvas, Cisco, WebEx and others. “I helped to overhaul their audio/visual equipment, which now involves a lot of remote learning through cameras and large monitors where lectures can be recorded and watched later,” he said. “SHRP has always strived to incorporate technology into their programs.”

M. Lisa Morton

Due to his success in the post-baccalaureate certificate program, Dr. Lisa Morton, HIIM program director, strongly urged him to pursue the master's. “He’s had so many varied work experiences and provided real-world examples for class discussions and projects. It helped students visualize how they might use their informatics skills in the profession. At times, I felt that he could be teaching the course, given his insightful views and approachable personality.”

His final semester as a student in the program coincided with another career-builder for him, an internship with the Medical Center’s Center for Informatics and Analytics, which works to incorporate the latest data and analytics to improve patient outcomes.

“We’re working on a dashboard for radiation oncology to show how many patient treatments are scheduled and build a history of each patient,” he said.

Jessica Sullivan

It was a project that required the kind of focus Landreth brings to the table as an IT professional, said Jessica Sullivan, intelligence analyst with the center and his mentor in the effort.

“He’s bright and hardworking,” Sullivan said. “His diligence to go beyond what was asked was invaluable to the entire project. We’re grateful he completed his internship with us.”

He hopes his master’s will take his career to places his old cola truck might not have reached.

“It will open some doors toward becoming more qualified for management positions,” he said. “I’ll also get a better understanding of how the hospital works.”

Away from his work, Landreth enjoys going to competitive gymnastics events to cheer on his son, Evan, 14.