In biomedical informatics, researchers gather data from health records or biological research and develop ways to manage, store, and interpret that data to improve clinical services, monitor the incidence of epidemics, and upgrade healthcare information technology. The curriculum for a master's program in biomedical informatics combines the study of information technology with courses in basic healthcare practices, giving students the skills to develop and maintain useful systems of keeping medical records. These programs often require a thesis or final research project. In a doctoral program, students develop their research and teaching skills.
Applicants must have a bachelor's degree and satisfactory GRE scores to enroll in these programs, but may accept students who are currently finishing their bachelor's at the master's-level. Students with a bachelor's degree in a related field or with some prior coursework experience in computer science, biology or medicine have a better chance at admission than candidates without prior work in the field. Applicants are encouraged to have experience in higher-level math, computer science and biological sciences.
Doctorate degrees may require some master's-level course completion in addition to a bachelor's in a field related to biology or computer science and high GRE scores and GPA. Many applicants to a Ph.D. program in biomedical informatics are students who have completed the core curriculum in a master's degree program and who have chosen to continue their studies or cross-train to broaden their knowledge.
Concentration is usually within clinical informatics, health information management, bioinformatics, or computational biology in master's programs, while doctorate students usually concentrate their studies and research on one area of medical informatics, such as biostatistics.
Master's Degrees in Biomedical Informatics
Students in a master's degree program in biomedical informatics gather and interpret medical information obtained via research or electronic health records and use that information to improve the interactions between health care providers and patients. Combining elements of information technology with an understanding of basic healthcare practices, programs offer classes in the sciences, information engineering, and healthcare administration.
Students in a biomedical informatics degree program should expect to take advanced-level courses heavy in mathematics and the sciences. In addition to classroom lectures and conferences, most programs require students to devote a large portion of their time researching. Some courses could cover:
- Computer software engineering
- Statistics and analysis
- Algorithms for computational bioinformatics
- Imaging informatics
- Neurophysiology and cell structure
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- Biotechnology, General
Doctor of Philosophy in Biomedical Informatics
For more advanced positions in teaching, research or management, students can pursue a doctoral degree in biomedical informatics. In addition to required coursework, students are usually expected to complete a certain number of hours teaching, researching, publishing research papers and writing a dissertation. Students usually concentrate on one aspect of biomedical informatics for research, such as computer science, biomedical engineering, or public health. Classes could deal with the following:
- Clinical information technology
- Data mining and data structure analysis
- Software engineering
- Advanced probability and statistics
Popular Career Options
A doctorate in biomedical informatics opens up advanced positions in several fields. In addition to academic research and teaching positions, graduates can find work in public health, genetic epidemiology, industry research, and clinics. Sample career paths could include:
- University or college professor
- Freelance informatics consultant
- Research and development scientist
Employment Outlook and Salary Info
Graduates of a master's degree program in biomedical informatics may find work in several areas, including research, teaching, health information management and information technology. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment of health information managers and other medical or health services managers is expected to increase by 17% between the years 2014 and 2024, faster than the average for all occupations (www.bls.gov). The BLS also reported that as of May 2015, the mean annual wage of a health services manager was $106,070.
To find a career in biomedical informatics (which range from areas like academia to scientific research), students must typically hold either a master's or doctorate degree in biomedical informatics. In these programs, students will learn topics like computer software engineering and biostatistics.