Med student interest in informatics greater than knowledge of training opportunities

Even as healthcare becomes more about using technology to gain knowledge from reams of data, medical students' interest in pursing clinical informatics (CI) training outpaces their knowledge about opportunities to do so, according to a new study at the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association.

The American Medical Informatics Association made supporting educational opportunities for the future CI work force one of its public policy priorities for 2014.

This study, funded from an American Medical Association Accelerating Change in Medical Education grant, looked at interest in CI training and knowledge of opportunities among med students at Brown University, the Oregon Health & Science University School of Medicine, the University of Alabama at Birmingham and the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences.

Among the 157 respondents, 30 percent showed at some interest in incorporating CI into their future careers, while 13 percent were "very" interested in doing so. Their knowledge of opportunities, however, was no greater than those who expressed no interest in pursuing informatics.

A majority of respondents overall expressed an interest in pursuing informatics electives as students or residents, although less than one-third of students were aware of CI training opportunities available to them as students and early-career physicians.

They found academic fellowships significantly less appealing than other options, possibly considering a two-year fellowship impractical, compared to that of a briefer elective course.

The American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) is pushing for advanced degrees for health IT professionals. Meanwhile, a 2014 Nursing Informatics Workforce Survey published in February 2014 found a the number of nursing titles that specified informatics had doubled, with 43 percent of survey respondents holding a post-graduate degree.

In the Journal of the American Medical Association, two physicians--Don Detmer of the University of Virginia and Edward Shortliffe of Arizona State University—write that certifications for physicians as subspecialists in clinical informatics, "should prove to be an important contributor to short-term improvements in systems and their implementation, as well as to the longer-term evolution of health information technology as it seeks to assert a positive influence on health, healthcare, quality, efficiency and reduction in costs."

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