Aspiring healthcare informatics professionals have several pathways to get a job in health informatics. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts a 13% growth rate in healthcare information technology over the next eight years. Entry-level careers in healthcare informatics require experience and education in either clinical medicine or computer science. Medical professionals who want to move into health informatics should obtain additional skills and training in information science. IT professionals who want to work in health informatics should obtain experience and skills in a clinical care environment.
Rapid Change in Health Informatics
The first requirement for a job in health informatics is a flexible background and the ability to adapt quickly to changing conditions. Applicants will find flexibility and adaptability in nearly every entry-level health informatics job description. Beginning with the passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), health systems have been asked to collect, store and process healthcare data in an ever-evolving and sophisticated way. In addition to traditional careers such as medical coding using ICD-10, health informatics professionals are asked to install and maintain applications for health information software and systems. The rapid changes require that entry-level health informatics applicants need a combination of experience and training in both clinical medicine and information technology.
Entry-Level Position Pathways
Entry-level positions in health informatics include medical records clerks, health information technicians, and medical coders. Each position requires a combination of skills-based training, certification, and experience. Clinical software applications specialists must have training and certification in specific types of healthcare software. Clinical analysts should have a bachelor’s degree in math or statistics, and work with clinical staff to interpret data and manage patient records. Entry-level management positions require a combination of clinical licenses such as RN or even MD, and at least two years of clinical experience, along with information technology education and training.
Clinical Care to Health Informatics Pathway
A registered nurse who is interested in health informatics could obtain training and certification in healthcare information technology, qualifying for an entry-level position as a Clinical Analyst. An RN could become qualified for a higher level health informatics management position by obtaining a master’s degree in health information technology or healthcare informatics.
Information Technology to Health Informatics Pathway
IT professionals with a bachelor’s degree in information technology or computer science should have at least one year of experience in information technology before seeking a position in health informatics. Internships and entry-level positions may be available in large healthcare organizations for IT professionals with an interest in health care and medicine.
A number of colleges and universities have begun to offer certificate programs in health care informatics which can often be transferred to a master’s degree. The programs are designed for candidates who already have health care experience or information technology experience. Additional certificates in IT can qualify applicants for employment in health informatics, including CCNA (Cisco Certified Network Associate), PMP (Project Management Professional) and CISSP (Certified Information Systems Security Professional).
Because of the unique combination of health care experience and information technology training which is required to enter the field of healthcare informatics, employment consulting firm Burning Glass reported that jobs in the field are in high demand, and may stay open for longer periods than many other positions. Pathways to get a job in health informatics are open for healthcare and IT professionals through a combination of education, training, and job experience.
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