Student Project Spotlight: Symptom Checker | Shirley Li’s Symptom App to Make Healthcare More Accessible to All

Project Name: Symptom Checker
Cohort Start Date: 12/13/21
Program: Online Full-Time
Solo or Group Project: Solo
Stack Project Was Built In: MERN
Pre-Dojo:
  • Bedside nurse before and during the pandemic
  • Realized nursing was not a sustainable career path for her mental and physical wellbeing
  • Zero background in tech and wanted an immersive bootcamp experience 
After Dojo:
  • Recently graduated bootcamp and hopes to join a team where she can merge her passions for technology and healthcare together
  • Plans to continue working on Symptom Checker to help patients understand their condition and provide a list of specialists in their area
  • Would love to develop telemedicine software for a company that strives to make healthcare more equitable and accessible for all

Why did you create this project? 

My career background is in nursing, and during my time at the bedside, I learned that many patients were often hesitant to seek medical care for emergent situations due to unknown costs, or they did not know which specialty to consult for their conditions. I wanted to build at least one app during bootcamp that would incorporate healthcare problems, and the opportunity arose in my MERN stack. 

While planning for project week, I came across the Infermedica API, which utilizes machine learning to predict medical conditions based on symptoms inputted. After symptoms are inputted, the API returns a series of follow-up questions to help hone in on the most likely condition. After exploring the API, I thought the React library would pair perfectly with it to create a basic symptom-checking/triage app. It would be a single-paged dynamic web app that reuses components to display each follow-up question! I loved the idea of being able to practice and directly apply the skills I learned during this stack. 

What’s your intended audience for this project?

My intended audience is anyone who is curious about health symptom(s) they may be experiencing, but hesitant to see a professional about it. However, it is not intended to be used in place of professional medical advice.

What are you most proud of about this project?

I am happy that I got the basic functionality to work in a short period of time! I think the auto-completing search bar is also pretty neat! After a user inputs their age and sex, the API returns a list of symptoms someone of that particular age and sex could experience. The list is then filtered as the user searches for symptoms. 

What challenges or obstacles did you run into while developing this project? How did you overcome them?

One challenge I faced was trying to achieve too much functionality at once. It’s so easy to get caught up in a research rabbit hole when thinking of project ideas. I am glad the instructors emphasized the Agile methodology and told us to settle on an MVP because I could have spent all week researching instead of coding. 

When I did settle on an MVP, I realized that even that wasn’t easy. Staying motivated was also a challenge. This app makes a lot of API calls based on prior and current user input. It was a struggle and a half getting all the components to render in order and keeping track of all the changing states. It really tested my patience and I wanted to scrap this project idea multiple times. Taking short breaks or tackling other parts of my code while I allowed my vision to “reset” really helped reframe my approach. 

Do you have plans to continue working on this project?

I do! I originally named this app the “Healthcare Advocate,” because I envisioned it being more than a Symptom Checker. I want to add more information on the results page about the medical condition. For example, details about the condition like diagnostics and treatment so the user can know what to expect. Perhaps adding a list of possible providers and specialists (related to the condition) in the area would be useful. I am also interested in implementing accessibility and/or chatbot features! The styling could use some work, too.

Why did you choose to attend coding bootcamp?

My career background is entirely in nursing. After working at the bedside throughout the pandemic, I quickly realized that it is not sustainable for my mental and physical wellbeing. I became interested in the development of life-saving technologies related to achieving equitable care. I had zero experience in the tech field so I thought an immersive experience with a coding bootcamp could give me a quick overview, and inform my decision of whether or not to pursue a career in software development. 

What sealed the deal on Coding Dojo?

The Coding Dojo curriculum really caught my eye. For someone who is just dipping their toes into tech, I appreciated the breadth of languages and frameworks taught. I knew that I wouldn’t be an expert in all the languages after graduation, but I would at least have a solid foundation to further study on my own. I also noticed that there would be a large team of experts supporting my education, including lifetime access to Career Service Managers which gave me a sense of reassurance. I also loved that Coding Dojo offered scholarships for underrepresented populations in tech. 

What has been your favorite part(s) of the bootcamp so far?

I loved the camaraderie of the students going through this intensive bootcamp together! Despite being an introvert, I really appreciated the push to work collaboratively during morning algos and assignments. It enhanced my learning and understanding of concepts. Not to mention the confidence booster that came with being able to help/teach someone something I just learned! Like, “I actually get it this time!” During the times I didn’t understand something, I also knew that someone else could walk me through it again as well, and that was reassuring.

Did you have any technical experience prior to Coding Dojo? If yes, please explain.

No, I did not. Thank goodness for the Programming Basics course provided by Coding Dojo prior to bootcamp or I would have been so lost trying to figure out what a terminal was!

What are your career goals and aspirations after graduating bootcamp?

I just recently graduated bootcamp in April 2022, and I am hoping to join a team where I can merge my two passions together. I would love to work for a company that strives to make healthcare more equitable and accessible, especially seeing all the gaps that existed throughout the Covid-19 pandemic. Developing Telemedicine software sounds fun! 

If you are interested in learning how to code and building amazing projects like this, Coding Dojo bootcamp offers accelerated learning programs that can transform your life. We offer both part-time and full-time online courses, as well as onsite (post COVID-19) programs. We also offer financing options, scholarships, and other tuition assistance programs to help you with financial barriers. 

If you want to invest in yourself and your future, there is no better time than the present! If you’re interested, use this link to schedule a 15-minute exploratory session with one of our Admissions representatives today.

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