Board of Regents approves joint program in Biomedical Informatics
Published: Tuesday, February 5, 2013
Updated: Monday, February 4, 2013 18:02
Technology has changed how everything gets done. Communication, data and information are all done over computer systems. The need for professionals trained in information sciences and technology has exploded, creating countless fields that never existed even 50 years ago.
Last week the Board of Regents approved a joint program in biomedical informatics for UNO and UNMC.
The new graduate level degree program will integrate research for both the master’s and Ph.D. paths. National trends, combined with local demand, helped propel the new program forward.
“We talked with national industry leaders, local businesses, and followed the career trend data when making this decision,” said B.J. Reed, senior vice chancellor of academic and student affairs. “Demand is exactly why we’re looking to start this.”
Biomedical informatics, sometimes called health informatics, is a broad field with a lot of room for specialization, but Reed gave some examples of what graduates may do with the degree, and who they might work for.
“Insurance companies and healthcare providers are digitizing medical records, building information systems, and realizing that most of their budgets are going into technology,” he said.
By hiring people with both medical and technological backgrounds, industries receive professionals who can fully integrate and build systems that serve those medical backgrounds, but also keep information systems modern, efficient and updated.
The program will combine faculty expertise from a variety of backgrounds and seek to place students into research positions with faculty and professionals on UNO’s campus and at the Medical Center.
The curriculum does have some core classes, but is customizable.
It focuses on letting the graduate student choose exactly what specific path to pursue, whether more focused on creating an information system for a hospital, or working on using digital records to improve continuity of patient care between health care institutions.
UNMC press releases state that around 10 students would be prepared to enroll in the program, but for undergraduates interested, Reed gave some useful advice.
“There are three core paths in the program: medical, information science, and education,” he said.
“Talking to advisors is the best way to make sure your path is adequate to gain entry, but expect to have to take prerequisites.”
These prerequisites would be necessary, for example, in the case of a biology student who had not studied anything about computer systems, and would therefore need additional instruction before the graduate program.
As health records become increasingly digitized, and computers and technology become integrated into health care services and institutions, the need for multi-talented professionals proficient in both aspects will continue to grow.
UNO and UNMC, closely located, offer the opportunity for students to have access to a cutting edge field, new and important research, and faculty with diverse backgrounds. Together with both local and national demand, it’s a chance to help grow a new program and ensure a successful future.