Vanak Huot, MG22
When I was younger, I thought it was a physical place, but now I feel at home within myself.
What is it like for you to work at the same institution from which you’re earning your degree?
My background is as a dental hygienist. When I used to practice and see all this patient information that we recorded, I would ask: Where is all this data going? Who’s going to use this down the road? And, most importantly, how is this going to impact the quality of care for the patient? Now, I’m an accreditation project manager at the School of Dental Medicine—previously, I worked at the school as a quality assurance analyst—and I’m getting answers to those questions through both my master’s program and my work. In both contexts, I focus on the analytics that assess the quality of care by looking at the data. And working at the second-largest dental school in the country allows me access to volumes of anonymized patient data. That privilege has given me the chance to see the root cause of things and to delve into those causes when the data doesn’t seem right. That’s huge. Combining my degree and my day job has given me the ability to imagine how I can help improve the quality of care at Tufts, and that’s really important to me. I absolutely love my job.
Many of your fellow graduates will be leaving Tufts, but you’re staying put. How does it feel to have a new degree in hand and to continue on where you are?
It makes me feel valued. This is a continuous process for me—I’m not stopping as far as my learning goes. I just started my accreditation role at the School of Dental Medicine, and I’m still carrying out my duties to oversee, plan, coordinate, and document quality assurance for the school. Both my previous role and my current one were brand-new for the school when I started, and I feel lucky to have had the opportunity to build these programs as I go. It’s amazing to know that I’m still a part of this—there’s so much for me to do here. This is a project that I want to continue doing and continue growing.
What’s your superpower?
Working with other people. In my day-to-day, I have to work with so many different personalities. The ability to view things from their perspective really helps. I can ask, “What am I seeing when I look through your lens?” I know how to work well with people because I can empathize with them and prioritize their needs.
What advice do you have for someone who’s interested in pursuing a similar career?
Don’t be afraid to try something new and never take no for an answer. If you’re interested in learning something, reach out to hospitals, community health centers—anywhere you can think of. These organizations are underfunded. Go in and apply for a position, or even an internship, and say, “I’m really interested in this. What is driving your decision-making? What kind of analytics are you using? How can I help?” Try it out. Find something that resonates with you.