Graduate School

Deepa Padmanabhan: Into Informatics for India and beyond!



Hometown: Raleigh, NC

Age: 39

Major: Health Informatics and Information Management, MS

Undergraduate Education: Bachelor of Dental Surgery, RMDCH, Annamalai University, TN, India, 1997

She’s come halfway around the world to gain the knowledge and degree she needs to impact the healthcare system in her native country as a Chief Medical Informatics Officer. Deepa Padmanabhan is a dentist, a mom, and a busy student whose dedication inspires both her classmates and her professors. Her field of graduate study is new, but she’s passionate about it as the strategic management and protection of electronic healthcare records grows more complex and critical. It’s a challenge Deepa welcomes, and one that will allow her to make a difference in the healthcare industry.

How did you choose your area of graduate study?

Being in the field of healthcare, I wanted to pursue a Masters in a different dimension of healthcare. I applied for MBA in ECU and got accepted, during registration I saw this field which is a combination of healthcare and management. With my Masters in Health Informatics and Information Management (HIIM), I plan to make an impact in the healthcare system at a broad conceptual and strategic level. I also hope to go back to my country and help bring about a major change in the health care system through my education.

What do you find most challenging/rewarding about your graduate school experience?

This graduate program has been an amazing experience. Getting back to college after more than a decade, I had a lot of questions and doubts. My advisor and professors helped me from the get-go, from helping me choose my courses to making a choice between F2F and online classes. My professors have always been a constant source of support and encouragement in every step making it an enriching experience. All the courses are designed in such a way that they are friendly to a person who does not have either a healthcare or technology background. My professors are always available 24/7 to answer our questions and concerns and guide us through the course.

What is cool about your area of study and why should people care about it?

This is a completely new field and I always get questions like, “What is this course?” “What do you learn in it?” “What will you do once you are done graduating?” I am hoping to help spread the knowledge about this course so we have more qualified people in this field of Health Informatics, a need at this hour when America is gearing towards Meaningful Use of electronic health records.

Tell us about any academic awards/recognitions/publications you may have achieved:

In Bachelor of Dental Surgery, I stood 4th in a class of 70 students with distinction in Pharmacology.

What recognition are you most proud of and why?

I am proud of my recognition of being a dentist and being able to alleviate the pain of my patients. Seeing them smile when they come back to me trusting me to help them with their problems.

What would you say to someone considering ECU as a potential graduate school?

I would definitely recommend ECU as a potential graduate school for anyone considering joining it. The professors are very friendly and make you feel at ease the minute you enter ECU. I love the idea and flexibility of face-to-face and online classes. The classes are conveniently scheduled so as to be convenient for working people. I definitely think the tuition is comparable to other universities and thereby a better return on investment.

Hobbies: Traveling, listening to music, and watching movies

6:00 am-7:00 am Get breakfast ready
7:00 am-8:00 am Get kids ready for school
8:00 am-8:30 am Check school emails, one involving immediate attention, which then changes the list of tasks for the day. Plan my day accordingly.
8:30am-9:00am Have breakfast with my husband
9:00am-11:00am Workout in the gym
11:00am-12:00pm Listen to lectures or read for evening's class
12:30pm-1:30pm Lunch with my kids at school once a week
1:30pm-2:50pm Graduate Assistant work/attend class at ECU once a week (2-8 pm)
2:50pm-5:00pm Quiet time studying
5:00pm COFFEE
5:00pm-6:00pm Spend time with my kids if I am not at ECU
6:00pm-6:30pm Dinner
7:00pm-8:00pm Read for the night’s lecture
8:00pm-9:30pm Attend online class
9:30pm-11:00pm Homework
11:00pm-11:30pm Respond to more emails for the day
11:30pm Relax with my husband while I sit and read articles till I retire for the night



College & Dept.: Allied Health Sciences, Health Services and Information Management

Year: First

Clubs & Organizations at ECU: Outside of ECU, I belong to a Nutrition Club facilitated by a Nutritionist from Duke University. We meet once a month to talk about healthy lifestyle. I’m a volunteer at my children’s school for the Science Olympiad, and I’ve taught English to non-English speaking students in Wake County Schools as a volunteer.

Internships: Applying for internship in Summer 2014 in WakeMed Raleigh, NC

Favorite class: COHE 6460 Classification Systems, COHE 6410 Electronic Health Records …just to name a few.

Professor who has influenced you the most: Dr. Ray Hylock

Dream job: CMIO (Chief Medical Informatics Officer)

Your words to live by: Live in the moment.

Significant life lesson you’ve learned while at ECU: It’s never too late to learn.