New Student Group Profile - GHISSA

GHISSA LogoWith Health Information Science (HIS) being a relatively new field of research, and an equally new degree option in the Faculty of Information and Media Studies at Western, those who are immersed in its study are sometimes called upon to explain to the uninitiated what the field entails.

Bhavin Prajapati, President of the Graduate Health Information Science Student Association (GHISSA), ran into that scenario recently, when he was asked by his younger brother’s friends what HIS is all about.

“What I told a group of 17-year olds was that HIS is a field of study to understand how to use health information in various healthcare contexts, whether it be for developing new technologies, health promotion and education, public health policy, medical and journalism, ethical considerations, evidence based medicine.  Anything that involves information and health,” he said.

A lack of awareness about HIS is one reason that motivated the creation of GHISSA as a recognised student group, and why it is important for them to work in tandem with the HIS program.

“Because HIS is still growing, GHISSA is pivotal for the growth of the program as we work very closely with our directors,” he explained.

Bhavin PrajapatiPrajapati says the group, which was recognized by FIMS administration in March 2013, is a collection of students who are interested in advocating for student needs, providing a forum for students to voice feedback to program coordinators, participating in outreach activities and of course, having as much fun as possible.

And much like the HIS program itself, which is a joint effort between FIMS and the Faculty of Health Sciences and draws on multiple fields of expertise, the students are an interdisciplinary group who come from a wide variety of academic backgrounds.

“If Oxford Dictionaries had to provide an example for the concept of ‘interdisciplinary’, it would cite HIS and GHISSA,” quipped Prajapati.  

“The diverse range of talent and experience alone are some of the best aspects about the students in the HIS program. The level of discourse we engage in both in class and out is truly exceptional and arguably unique amongst most graduate programs at Western and probably Canada.”

The group of master’s and doctoral students in GHISSA come from a diverse range of disciplines, including psychology, nursing, political science, medicine, pharmacy, global health and international development and biology.

In their short history, GHISSA has already organized a speaker series event, created HIS-specific programming for all Western students and supported their colleagues by promoting student research on- and off-campus.  In the immediate future they want to help to maintain the health of the program.

“First, we want to ensure the HIS program grows with the help of student activities and input.  Second, we want to promote why HIS at Western is truly one of the best programs in healthcare by featuring student talent and what our program does from a student perspective,” explained Prajapati.

“We believe we are well on our way to becoming a leading graduate student group in our field.”

If you’re interested in following the activities of GHISSA, visit them on Facebook:

For more information about the Health Information Science program, visit: