For University of Texas at Arlington students interested in the ever-changing world of health informatics, their learning did not stop during the summer. Two innovative programs put on by UTA’s Multi-Interprofessional Center for Health Informatics (MICHI) exposed Mavericks to the intersection of health, information and technology.
For two weeks in June, nearly 30 Mavericks took part in the Gaining Equity in Training for Public Health Informatics and Technology (GET PHIT) consortium, a bootcamp designed to train students and health professionals in informatics and technology, increase the number of health professionals from minority groups and students trained in the field and expand the public health workforce.
“Public health informatics is a rapidly growing field that is crucial in health care decision-making and improving population health outcomes,” said Gabriela Wilson, MICHI co-director and professor of kinesiology at the College of Nursing and Health Innovation. “By participating in this bootcamp, students enhanced their expertise to make them more competitive in the job market, opening up new career opportunities and advancement prospects.”
UTA is one of nine Minority-Serving Institutions participating in the consortium, led by UTHealth in Houston and made possible by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology as part of its Public Health Informatics & Technology Workforce Development Program.
Participating students received a stipend and are now eligible for paid internships this fall.
The first week focused on topics such as data analytics, information systems and health technology. Week 2 brought hands-on group work, with student teams participating in a research project and competition with faculty mentors guiding them and local community partners acting as judges.
Jeremiah Joseph, a junior philosophy and kinesiology double major, was on the winning student team. That team’s project focused on addressing transportation barriers and preventive health care promotion among Dallas County residents.
“During the bootcamp, I gained insights into the power of health informatics in leveraging data and technology to improve health care delivery and decision-making,” he said. “I am grateful for the experience and the lasting impact it has had on my journey toward making a difference in health care nationally.”
In August, 13 UTA students participated in the first Training and Experiential Learning in Biomedical Informatics (TExBioMed) Summer Institute.
Funded by a National Library of Medicine grant, the 12-week research training program was designed to increase educational opportunities for minority students in biomedical, health, and public health informatics while motivating them to pursue the fields as careers.
The experience ended with final student presentations, including one by Aarti Darji, a junior majoring in data science with a concentration in psychology. She presented her work on creating a search engine that compares different modalities of tissue images in more detail to better assist in diagnoses and treatment plans.
“I am super thankful for the connections I have made through this program,” Darji said. “I am working with a wonderful mentor and have gained a lot of knowledge in bioinformatics. I have been introduced to a lot of resources out of this program, and it has made me confident in deciding the next steps for my career.”
Darji was one of three students honored with Outstanding Presentation awards. She also will attend the upcoming Texas Health Informatics Alliance conference, where she will present her work.
“It was impressive to see the students’ growth over this 12-week course. They gained clinical, experiential and data-driven knowledge that they may not have been exposed to if it were not for this program,” said Jitenga Knox, MICHI’s administrative services officer.
The GET PHIT project is supported by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) under 90PH0003/01-05 and Gaining Equity in Training for Public Health Informatics and Technology (GET PHIT) for $9,754,247. This information or content and conclusions are those of the author and should not be construed as the official position or policy of, nor should any endorsements be inferred by ONC, HHS, or the U.S. Government.
The TExBioMed project I is funded for $675,000 by the National Library of Medicine through the NIH Research Education Program (R25). Through foundational skills-building and mentorship, the NLM R25 program is strengthening a diverse NIH-supported workforce that will foster scientific innovation, enhance global competitiveness, and improve the quality of research. This information or content and conclusions are those of the author and should not be construed as the official position or policy of, nor should any endorsements be inferred by NLM, NIH, or the U.S. Government.