November 26, 2012

WCMC Will Launch Master in Health Informatics

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Weill Cornell Medical College is launching a new Master of Science in Health Informatics in January 2013 aimed at teaching students scientific techniques about health services.

“We see that there are a lot of job opportunities in the field [of health informatics], but it is new enough that we do not have people who have undergraduate training in it,” said Dr. Jessica S. Ancker, assistant professor of public health at WCMC and a deputy director of New York State’s Health Information Technology Evaluation Collaborative.

The new Master of Science in Health Informatics will prepare students for careers that combine the fields of health and information technology with a curriculum consisting of research as well as courses in health information technology, health care delivery, research design and methodology, according to a WCMC statement.

Given the lack of undergraduate opportunities to study health informatics, Weill decided to turn its non-degree certificate program in the discipline into a full master’s program in order to better prepare students for more demanding jobs in this field, Ancker said.

The program, which will be run by Weill’s Center for Healthcare Informatics and Policy in the Graduate School of Medical Sciences, has been developed from the non-degree certificate program that was first introduced in 2010.

The current non-degree program can be completed in one year and encompasses only 10 credits of coursework. It enables students to work while pursuing the certificate — and only one evening course per week is required, while the remaining classes are available as online files, according to the program’s website.

The master’s program, however, will be more intensive and require more coursework, according to Ancker.

“We always thought that it might transition to a master’s program,” she said. “As we were running it and getting experience teaching all of these courses, we decided that we would like to pursue turning [the certificate program] into a full master’s program.”

Students admitted to the program are expected to pursue careers that involve participating in healthcare projects or working in departments that require more training than is offered by the non-degree certificate in health informatics, according to Ancker.

“By emphasizing systems science, this program offers students a unique and much-needed perspective on health and healthcare,” said Dr. Stephen Johnson, program director and associate director for education of CHiP, in a WCMC statement.

The program’s applicants will likely be those with experience primarily in either healthcare or technology fields, Ancker said. She said some may be professionals who have some experience in healthcare who want to learn more about the information technology behind it while others will be those with a background in technology or computer science who have had little experience in the healthcare industry.

Full-time students will be able to complete the degree in one year.

“We are extremely excited to offer this new program,” Dr. Rainu Kaushal, associate professor of medical informatics and the executive director of CHiP, said in the WCMC statement. “[Our] faculty members are national leaders, and are conducting cutting-edge research in health informatics. The Center is well-positioned to train the next generation of health informatics professionals.”

Original Author: Rebekah Foster