Public Health Informatics Careers: What Are My Options?

Public health informaticists use gathered information and modern technology to further all aspects of public health care. There are many different career opportunities to choose from within the field of public health informatics. This is a very vital field since they distribute the information discovered in the research facilities to doctors and nurses working on the front lines of the health care profession.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the official definition of public health informatics is …”the systematic application of information and computer science and technology to public health practices, research and learning.” This field helps to understand diseases and disorders that ail the population. Public health informaticists develop therapies and cures and work closely with clinicians to administer healthcare effectively.

Some of their responsibilities include:

  • Develop software for use in global information distribution
  • Use social media (Facebook, Twitter) to distribute essential information to the public
  • Work on ways to overcome cultural and language obstacles in health information distribution
  • Implement new action courses for educating the public during medical emergencies (hurricanes, nuclear leak, etc.)
  • Collect data for use in combat against pandemics

Informatics within the field of public health is a developing, evolving, and growing industry. Over the last few decades the ability and need to expand this line of work has grown directly along with out population. Looking into the future it is expected that the need for professionals in this market will keep rising. People interested in pursuing this type of career are smart to educate themselves now to take advantage of the future potential. Notice in the graph below the wide range of health informatics sub-specialties which are increasingly becoming degree programs:

Individuals interested entering this field often have worked as:

  • Nurses, Doctors and other healthcare providers
  • Information Technologies
  • Software developers
  • Research lab assistants
  • Ability to use Excel, Access and Word is beneficial

Familiarizing yourself with a few of the employment opportunities will shed help some light on this somewhat obscure area of the health care industry. Listed below are just a few of the current job titles that a degree in public health informatics will allow you to pursue.

Chief Information Officer

A Chief Information Officer oversees the information technology department in a medical facility. This person is responsible for the maintenance of all informational systems, as well as their integration into a medical setting. This position may even involve creating a partial or full clinical information system. A person in this position will also make sure that patients are being well cared for and that the informational systems are operating smoothly.

  • Head of entire technology department
  • Maximize clinical data distribution efficiency
  • Ensure operations consistently operate at a top level

Clinical Informaticist

Clinical informaticist ensure that the information collected by a researcher in the lab is distributed to the rest of the medical facility’s staff in a clear and easily accessible manner. This will allow caregivers to use that knowledge in implementing changes where necessary. This could also include research information that could lead to better treatment decisions. They also provide evidence and research centered on specific topics for staff or management meetings at medical facilities.

  • Collect and distribute data
  • Ensure caregivers have real time patient information
  • Develop ways clinics can improve information flow via modern technology

Informatics Research Assistant

An informatics research assistant works to gather information from those who are participating as part of the research pool. To accomplish this task, an informatics research assistant must possess exceptional communication skills because they will be interviewing individuals and working with various departments all on the same project. A person in this position must also understand how to use research gathering computer programs. All of the collected data must be entered into the appropriate computer programs to be evaluated by researchers.

  • Conduct interview and record data (through various medias)
  • Enter and analyze collected information
  • Some medical background is beneficial
  • Flexible hours generally required

Global Disease Informaticist

A global disease informaticist could work on either the local level or as high up as within the World Health Organization. This is an exciting position as they work to distribute and exchange gathered information, recent findings and important breakthroughs to health professionals around the world. With the ease of intercontinental travel it is vital to stay on top of the spread and mutation of diseases. Informaticists work to globally collect and partner the research of international labs to share information in to combat of:

  • AIDS
  • H1N1
  • SARS

These are some options for public health informatics careers. Each one utilizes the skills that come along with public health informatics in different ways and to different effects. One benefit of having an informatics degree is that you could easily try out different aspects of the field until finding your niche.

Public Health Informatics Programs

Degree programs in public health informatics are growing rapidly. As information technology continues to improve a variety of public health issues, jobs will continue to increase.

When researching public health informatics programs, you might want to consider the following criteria to ensure you make an informed decision:

  • Is the school and program accredited? If so, by which agencies?
  • What prerequisites are required, if any?
  • Does the school offer opportunities to participate in faculty research?
  • Are programs designed for both full time and part time students?
  • Is financial aid available?

Our list of accredited schools below provide links to various informatics programs that serve today’s considerable recruiting needs. Both online and hybrid programs are available to help you meet your academic and career goals. Health informatics is a growing field so take advantage of the exciting job opportunities available to you!

Featured Master's in Healthcare Informatics Programs

Health informatics is the study of how technology, particularly artificial intelligence, computer science, and informational science relates to the medical field. This field of study is typically applied to clinical care, nursing, public health, and biomedical research. The universities and colleges listed below offer online master's degree programs in this subject

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