Lauren Willison

How Hands-On STEM Education is Preparing the Next Generation of Health Informaticists

Health informatics is one of the leading sub-disciplines emerging from the fields of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). Health informatics degree programs like the one at Florida Polytechnic University cover all facets of the educational model – social, ethical, theoretical and economical – to prepare the next generation of health informatics leaders. These programs also provide an outlet for hands-on industry experience and equip graduates with the skills necessary to solve common health informatics problems.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of health information technicians is projected to grow 15 percent from 2014 to 2024, which is much faster than the average growth for all occupations in the United States. This growth is a result of the aging population and the strong push to move all patient paperwork and files to electronic health records (EHR) systems. The move to digital platforms, on top of constant health care system reforms, creates a strong demand for health informatics professionals who understand our current health system and can identify what it lacks.

Hands-on experience is a necessary component of health informatics education because it bridges the skills gap in health care management and information science. STEM-focused universities have state-of-the-art facilities that allows students to apply textbook concepts to real-world problems, fine-tune interdisciplinary skills and become proficient with systems they’ll use later in their careers. In addition, STEM instructors draw on their own previous experience in the field to advise students on best industry practices and offer one-on-one training.

Some examples include:

  • Developing user-friendly methods to making health information accessible.
  • Researching ways to apply informatics in hospital and clinical settings.
  • Studying compliance requirements and data security issues.
  • Publishing case studies on effective health informatics systems.

Students who participate in interactive health informatics programs are sought after by employers to fill positions as health information technicians or analysts. An education that focuses on analyzing health biomedical data, preventing medical errors, tracking diseases, conducting clinical research and evaluating the quality of hospitals allows students to apply what they’ve learned first-hand to improve the health informatics sector.

Lauren Willison

As the Director of Admissions at Florida Polytechnic University, Lauren Willison is responsible for supporting the Executive Director of Enrollment Services and the Associate Director of Admissions in managing recruitment efforts. She develops and coordinates on- and off-campus events, as well as manages the campus visit experience.

Lauren-Willison