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Nnaemeka Okafor, MD, MS ’11

Conversation with an alumnus

Nnaemeka Okafor, MD, MS ’11, is an alumnus of UTHealth Houston School of Biomedical Informatics. In addition to his role as Assistant Professor in the Department of Emergency Medicine at McGovern Medical School at UTHealth Houston, he serves as Vice President and Chief Analytics and Informatics Officer at Memorial Hermann Health System. In the following interview, he discusses his educational journey, proudest accomplishments, and life interests.

What is your fondest memory of your time at the School of Biomedical Informatics?
My fondest memory was in the System Engineering class. I really enjoyed the concepts we were taught. 

What are your hopes for today’s students?
To learn that being a successful team leader requires effective communication and collaboration. Therefore, developing those soft skills is occasionally more important than the technical skills.

What inspires you?
Learning and successfully applying a new skill! 

Who is your mentor?
I have several including the late Jim Turley, PhD, RN, former faculty member. 

What skill is most vital to your job?
The ability to communicate and collaborate. 

What do you enjoy doing on your day off?
Spending time with my family — bike riding, playing cards, or video games. 

Who would you most like to meet (alive or deceased) and why?
Muhammad Ali — his story fascinates me. Observing his arc as a young man to a social icon is amazing. 

What has been your greatest adventure?
I am still living it — navigating my life! I came from Nigeria to study architecture, then switched to medicine. I was attracted to emergency medicine and planned to deliver care in Nigeria via telemedicine. As I explored telemedicine, I learned about informatics, which exposed me to so much more. 

Ultimately, my proudest accomplishment is raising my kids. Professionally, thus far, the way we review and manage medical errors in the emergency department is evolving, which has led to system initiative, process and technology changes, as well as new methods to educate clinical providers.

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