Why You Should Be a Health Informatics Major

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There are a lot of problems with the American health care system. You could write an entire book about its shortcomings, and indeed many have. One problem that’s not discussed nearly enough is the current employee shortage, and the fact that it may continue to get worse.

Today, the World Health Organization estimates that we are 7.2 million healthcare workers short globally. They portend that that number will be 12.9 million by the year 2035.

I don’t know exactly what to do to remedy the situation, other than make medical professions more appealing. If the attractive cast of “Grey’s Anatomy” can’t do it, then who can? Jokes aside, it is a serious problem with no obvious solutions. One niche of the medical industry that’s not lacking for growth, however, is the field of health informatics.

Health informatics is a largely unrecognized, but crucial element of patient care. It combines technical acumen and bettering the patient experience. You know how hospitals keep patient records? Well it’s not for the records of only that hospital: that data is accessible by a network of hospitals. This is thanks to health informatics professionals. It is their job to insert individual patient records into a healthcare cloud so that other hospitals can have quick access should that patient have the bad luck to end up in another hospital. You didn’t think the attending physician was the one handling that data, did you?

In just the last couple of years, universities have been adding health informatics programs at an ever-increasing rate. Here is why you should consider getting a degree in health informatics if you’re looking for career options.

Job Openings

According to studies, people who graduate with degrees in health informatics are faster at finding jobs in their field after graduating. There are a few factors driving the hiring craze, but recent federal regulations are the primary driver. Hospitals are being forced to move from paper to electronic records now. You ask me, this was an overdue transition. It is expected that the job openings will grow at a rate of 22% in the next five years.

Pay

Just because there’s a hiring craze for a certain industry doesn’t always mean that the jobs pay particularly well. There are rarely moments when call centers AREN’T hiring, and call centers are hardly famous for paying their employees a great wage. Health informatics is nowhere near the telemarketing spectrum, however. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary for a health informatics professional was north of $88,000 a year.

Other Applications

The Bureau of Labor Statistics is on top of their game. According to another study conducted by them, the average millennial should anticipate on having 15-20 jobs over the course of her/his lifetime. Wow. Is this a symptom of an ADD generation? I honestly don’t know the answer to that; it’s not my field of expertise. But if you are going to have that many jobs over the course of a lifetime, it would be nice to have a degree in a discipline with multiple applications.

A health informatics degree means you have a handle on medical information/jargon AND you’re technically proficient. The latter is more of a crucial element. In our digital days, every company is looking for computer smart employees.

Health informatics may not be for everyone. If the idea of sitting at a computer for hours on end doesn’t sound like your cup of tea, then it is not at all the career for you. But if you the ability to learn code and you want a job in a field where you improve patient care, this is the job for you.

Brett Chesney is an avid proponent of fitness and questionably healthy amount of video games. Connect with Brett on his Twitter @DammitChesney
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