Prior to the Web Development Bootcamp, Wesley Wong studied Nursing at McGill University. This experience inspired him to create Florence as his final project for the program. Florence is an application to help speed up the communication between nurses and clients. Wesley is currently completing his last week as the Lighthouse Labs’ Web Development Intern in Vancouver. To celebrate, we spoke with him about his experience as both an employee and alumni, along with insights into how he created his final project.
Tell us about your time with Lighthouse?
My internship at Lighthouse Labs has been great! Everyone is very friendly and I’m having a ton of fun. I’ve never had a work experience like this before and I’m a bit sad to leave. The best parts of the internship have been getting mentorship from the Senior Developers here and talking to my co-workers from really diverse backgrounds. I also had an opportunity to see Lighthouse Labs from a business perspective, which taught me a lot.
In terms of technical knowledge, I got to work on an experimental project using GraphQL, which was challenging but very rewarding. During my Bootcamp, I feel like one area that everyone had trouble with was Ruby on Rails but I feel a lot more comfortable with it after working with it in a practical setting. I also gained a way better appreciation of back-end development and I can really see why Ruby on Rails had become so popular in the Dev community.
What did you do before Bootcamp?
Before Bootcamp, I was studying Nursing at McGill. I really loved that field but after a few years I realized that it wasn’t for me. The learning style with the constant cycle of lecture and exams was something I struggled with and I never actually finished the program. In contrast, Bootcamp was a way more practical learning environment where I felt the goals were a lot more clear. Once I was placed in this environment, I flourished.
What was the final project you did for Bootcamp?
For our final project my team created a web application for nurses called Florence. It was named after Florence Nightingale, known as the Mother of Nursing. The current system for patients to call for a nurse’s assistance includes them hitting a call bell and then they have to wait until the nurse comes. Based on my experience working in hospitals, I know that the wait time can be a very anxiety provoking and lonely experience. Sometimes nurses get very busy with taking care of others and it can be a little while before they can attend to a particular patient. The app we built allows the whole process to be digitized so that when a call for assistance is triggered, the nurses are notified and they can let the patient know that their request has been heard through a screen in their room. No one likes staying in a hospital but I think a system like this helps make the whole experience a bit easier.
Beyond the functionality, a major benefit of this app is the data collection and analysis. When I worked at the hospital, all the nurses would have a meeting at the beginning of the shift where they would debrief about the calls they had the day before. It was a very informal process and I felt like a lot of valuable data was lost by doing this verbally. With this system, you can get data on which patient asks for assistance the most and also the time it takes for to respond to each call. Over a long period of time, data like this can be used to create more optimized processes for the nurses and it would allow them to distribute their time better. We also integrated a system that seamlessly brings up client data when the call for assistance first reaches the nurses so they will know who they are dealing with.
Did your team think about developing this app further after Bootcamp?
I’m so proud of making something that I would’ve loved to use when I was working in hospitals. I think the thing holding my team back is how hard it would be to bring this to market with all the regulations there are in healthcare. From what I can see it’s a slow moving industry when it comes to technology. We made this app very much as a proof of concept and didn’t plan for anything after.
What technology did you use to build this app?
Of the languages we learned during Bootcamp, we used React, Websockets, node.js, and express the most. Considering that our app required patient requests to be shown as fast as possible to the nurses, we needed to use a stack that renders each elements on the page quickly. Enter React and Websockets, which optimize the rendering of the page through use of something called the Virtual DOM. Traditionally, you would use a technology such a jQuery to interact with the DOM in order to make your website interactive. This was a bottleneck for web performance. React solves this problem by comparing the DOM to the Virtual DOM, calculating the minimum amount of updates required, and applying these changes to ensure minimum read/write time.
What was the most difficult part of making Florence?
Early on in the Development process, we made the decision that we didn’t want to use Redux in conjunction with React for this app. Redux was something none of us felt very familiar with and we didn’t want to work with a technology that was so new to us. However, by the time we were 60% through the project, we felt like that was a mistake. We really had to push React to make it work for what we wanted to do. Redux helps to organize the code and increases the maintainability of it. Because we were changing the state of our code so much, using Redux really would have helped.
What are you most proud of?
I’m really proud of my team and I’m really glad I had the opportunity to work with them. It was a once in a lifetime experience working on such an intense project together and we really solidified our friendship through it. You get to really see how someone thinks by looking through their code, it’s a very unique perspective to get to know someone.