Nursing Informatics Career Options

Question

I obtained my M.D. and M.P.H in Epidemiology degrees within the last four years. Since I decided not to pursue medical residency directly after graduating from medical school, I have been working part-time as a research associate for a consulting firm while applying to and interviewing for many positions in the health field (e.g., epidemiologist, data analyst, pathology residency, etc.). During this time, I found that a career / PhD in health informatics (even R&D) might be an option for me … my options for work / education / training in the intersection between medicine and computer science.

Answer

There are multiple career options at the intersection between medicine and computer science. Many health care organizations have a Chief Medical Information Officer position, and the qualifications often include a physician with data analytic and computer science experience. Vendor organizations are also looking for clinical staff who understand health care and computer science. Numerous studies are demonstrating that electronic health records, especially with clinical decision support, can improve patient care and outcomes.[1],[2] Unfortunately, dissatisfaction with these systems remains a problem and creates a barrier to achieving the full potential of these systems, and there is not clear evidence to why some implementations are successful, while others are not. That’s where a clinician with data analytic and computer science experience can help design more interoperable, user friendly applications that are tools to improve health care and outcomes.

So how can someone with these skills and experience find the jobs?

Networking. Join professional organizations, attend meetings and conferences, and seize the opportunities to demonstrate your value to a hiring organization.

Informatics education. Health information technology implementations require large scale work redesign, and health care organizations and vendors are looking for staff who understand the process of patient care, work redesign, data analytics, and computer science, to help design better systems. An option for you is to enroll in a Biomedical Informatics Fellowship, which will build on your existing talents and provide further knowledge and experience in biomedical informatics.

By: Willa Fields, DNSc, RN, FHIMSS, Professor, School of Nursing, San Diego State University


[1] Buntin, M., Burke, H., Hoaglin, M., & Blumenthal, D. (2011). The benefits of health information technology: A review of the literature shows predominately positive results. Health Affairs, 30(3), 464-471.

[2] Jones, S., Rudin, R., Perry, T., & Shekelle, P. (2014). Health information technology: An updated systematic review with a focus on meaningful use. Annals of Internal Medicine, 160(1), 48-54.