Do you have an analytical mind? A desire to improve the health of others? A knack for dissecting large amounts of information into easy to understand chunks?
Because if you do, you should consider a career change to a clinical informaticist.
In this post, we’ll take a brief look of what clinical informaticists do, and how to work towards becoming one.
What is a Clinical Informaticist?
According to Stanford, “Clinical informaticians transform health care by analyzing, designing, implementing, and evaluating information and communication systems that enhance individual and population health outcomes, improve patient care, and strengthen the clinician-patient relationship.”
This is a great but wordy definition. You can better explain it to your friends, family, and coworkers by explaining that clinical informaticists use data and analysis to improve patient outcomes.
Playing with Data While Helping Others
In many analytical fields, data is often analyzed and churned out with little affect on others. This can often lead to people in these positions asking, “what is the purpose of this? It’s not helping anything.”
Fortunately, in the clinical informatics field, data analysis saves lives and is a major benefit of working as a clinical informaticist. One day you may wake up and discover that kids who had frequent strep throat as a kid are more susceptible to developing a certain kind of infection as an adult. How cool would it be to be the one who discovers that?
Where to Start
So this sounds like something you could get into. The question now is, where to start?
There are a couple of options, each with its benefits and drawbacks. Let’s go over a few of them here.
A Formal Educational Program –
Already have your degree? Plenty of master’s programs have been popping up all over the country who are just quivering with excitement to have new students join them.
Pros- Availability of research options, learn from experienced faculty, gain experience with the latest and greatest software, tools, and techniques, understand all the knowledge required for a clinical informaticist position, more favorable job prospects upon graduation
Cons – Taking a year or two from earning income, expensive, may require a relocation
Exploring Options Within Your Current Position
Already work in the healthcare field? Consider asking your supervisor if there are any projects related to clinical informatics that can be done. For best chance of success with this one, find a small project within the organization you’d be able to work on and develop a proposal on how you could do it, what benefits it would provide the organization, and how you can work it in to your current position. How can someone say no to that?
Pros – You don’t have to quit your job, you can gain “real” experience you can put on a resume, you can test drive the field without making a big change
Cons- You must work in an organization that can implements principles and practices of clinical informatics such as a hospital, small provider’s office, clinic, insurance co, etc.
An Informal Education Program
Have some free time and want to explore the field a bit more, but not ready to commit to grad school? Want to test out the waters a little bit more or show your employer you’re interested and challenging yourself? Learning through blogs like this one, online course providers such as udacity and udemy, and reading up on clinical informatics provides a great base to get started from. If you read the top three books in the field, we think you may know more than 80% of the clinical informaticists out there!
Pros – Affordable, you don’t have to quite your day job, you can feel out the waters a bit more before diving in
Cons – Landing a position this way would be more difficult – but easy enough if you’re a self-starter and can tackle some open source projects or publish some articles
No matter which option you choose, you’ll be glad that you can find a position that uses that analytical mind of yours, but at the same time reaches for a deeper meaning of helping others to become healthier, more informed individuals.