Faculty member opens students’ eyes to opportunities in health IT.

Information about healthcare information turned out to greatly interest 79 students at Piper High School in Sunrise, Florida.

As a presenter in ITWomen’s Role Model Speakers Program, Neera Bhansali, a faculty member in the College of Business at Florida International University (FIU) and executive director, biomedical informatics, FIU’s Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine, helped the high school students, mostly from the ninth and 10th grades, see the role information plays across many opportunities in the healthcare field.

Neera Bhansali speaking to students at Piper High School

“I explained how information in the healthcare area contributes in a wide variety of arenas, from public health to emergency rooms,” said Bhansali, who served as faculty director of the college’s Master of Science in Health Informatics and Management Systems (MSHI&MS). “They were interested in a range of careers, from physical therapy to cardiology to insurance. I let them know that it’s an open field, with room for everyone.”

Examples bring the information to the young audience’s level.

Bhansali made sure to catch the high schoolers’ attention by referencing social media and popular technologies, such as iPhones.

“The students were interested to know about an app that can relay information from Nike running shoes to an iPhone or iPOD and help monitor health, as an example,” she said.

Her hope to “get the students to start thinking” was more than fulfilled.

According to Arlene Willis, program coordinator, ITWomen’s Role Model Speakers Program, “Those children were not just listening, they began thinking ahead right before your very eyes!”

As evidence, Willis cited some of the students’ comments and questions: “[I] want to know more about how the chip is made—what goes into it . . .”; “how can IT help people avoid getting harmful diseases?”; and “[I am interested in] the future of gaming and virtual views in [the field of] medicine.”

The program is one offered by ITWomen, part of whose mission is to increase the number of women who pursue careers in technology and engineering. Bhansali presented on March 5, 2013.


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